Friday, June 13, 2014

The Destruction of Marriage

Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them. Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” “What did Moses command you?” he replied. They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:1-10).

Christian advocates for the protection of marriage (marriage between a man and a woman – what the media has dubbed “traditional” marriage) have said for years that the true purpose of the fight for gay marriage was the destruction of the institution of marriage itself. People holding this opinion were, and continue to be, derided as sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, and reactionary. Over the last several years, however, in the wake of unprecedented success in the battle to legalize gay marriage, leaders and militant activists associated with the movement have begun to speak more candidly regarding the marriage fight. It turns out, the sexist, misogynistic, reactionary homophobes on the lunatic right fringe (read “Christians”) may have been right all along, regarding the motives of those fighting for “marriage equality”.

Gay rights activists (or should it be “marriage equality activists”) are fond of saying that they aren’t the ones who are destroying the institution of marriage, but rather straight people are. They cite the 50% divorce rate statistic which is thrown about with reckless abandon by experts. They point to prostitution, rampant infidelity among married couples, spousal abuse, and “loveless” marriages.

While the average supporter of the marriage equality movement may believe they are fighting for the civil rights of homosexuals to marry, those who organize and shape the direction of this movement have been exposing their true agenda as of late. This agenda, surprisingly enough, is the disillusion of marriage as an institution. These radical leftists view marriage as a misogynistic institution developed to oppress women and to facilitate the transfer of property from one male to another. Carina Kolodny, writing for the Huffington Post in February 2014 wrote proudly of the duplicity, and shamed advocates of traditional marriage as the real liars:

I definitely never lied. I am much smarter than that. I didn't perpetuate a fallacy; I just continually failed to correct it. When your chest inflated and your eyes grew wider and you declared that "gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage," I let somebody else tell you that you were wrong. And when that somebody else -- exhausted from having to defend their very personhood, tired from battling for their constitutional right to equality, drained from being persecuted by small men inflating their arrogant chests -- said to you, "No, marriage equality will not change traditional marriage," I didn't have the heart to correct them. For years and years I've strategically bit my tongue (Kolodny).

She goes on to make the case that, because of same-sex marriage, everyone will be forced to re-imagine the tenets of traditional marriage. This will lead to freedom for women, who are oppressed by men through marriage:

As questions continually arise, heterosexual couples will take notice – and be forced to address how much “traditional marriage” is built on gender roles and perpetuates a nauseating inequality that has no place in 2014…I believe that marriage equality will stomp out the remaining misogyny that you call “tradition.” That’s a win, not just for the LGBTQ community but for heterosexual women and the heterosexual men who see them as equals (Kolodny).

I must say, they do have a point. Certainly not about the tired radical feminist rhetoric that has been vomited by those on the left since the beginning of the sexual revolution. I suppose, however, it is not surprising that Ms. Kolodny wouldn’t take us Christians at our word when we support marriage as instituted by God, and deny that it is our intention to use marriage to enslave womyn. I guess if they’re willing to lie about what they believe, they probably figure we are as well.

They are right that the proponents of “traditional marriage” are responsible for the erosion of marriage as an institution. We should take just as much blame for what has happened to the institution of marriage as the leftist social activists, because we are just as human as they are. While Christians are certainly correct to worry about the erosion of marriage as a social institution, the worrying should be applied retroactively by a period of at least 45 years. And, considering that prostitution has been dubbed the world’s oldest profession, perhaps we should dial that back even a little further.

1969, however, is when California became the first state to enact no-fault divorce. It was at this point, at the height of the sexual revolution, it seems to me, that the Christian church began to seriously flirt with the idea of conforming more closely to the secular world’s view of marriage and sexuality, so as to be more tolerant and loving. Certainly, the other eroding factors mentioned above existed long before liberal wack-a-doo legislators on the left-coast decided that it was ok to dissolve a marriage for any reason, without having to prove wrong-doing on the part of the spouse. I seem to recall a story about an English king and a parade of headless ex-wives. The difference between good ol’ Henry VIII and the 40-year sonic dive into nationwide same-sex marriage in which our society is currently involved, is really one of acceptance of attitude.

Christian society, relying on God’s Law as a curb, refused to accept those things such as infidelity and divorce, even though sinful human beings engaged in those behaviors. What I’m getting at is the difference between living and sinning, and “living in sin”. Or, to put it in the words of St. Paul, it is the difference between walking according to the flesh, and walking according to the spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8: 5-14).

People get all hacked-off when Christians call homosexual behavior sin. Even Christians feel uncomfortable affirming this biblical teaching. This is because, for at least a generation, it has been taught as undeniable truth that sexual orientation is determined by genitics and homosexuals simply "are what they are". Science is even confident, the media tells us, that they have identified a strong genetic component to homosexuality[1]. This argument is somehow supposed to shame the Christian into silence by painting him as a bigot and a bully for picking on a group of people who can't help what they are.

Well, science also says that alcoholism is genetically determined, and alcoholics also can't help what they are[2]. Yet, society recognizes that alcoholism is unnatural and destructive, and supports groups with tax money and tax breaks which council them not to engage in such behavior. Is this cruel and bigoted? Hardly. What the secular world cannot acknowledge is that all of humanity is predisposed toward sinful behaviors. This is because we are all sinners, with a broken and corrupt nature. It doesn't matter in what form your sin manifests - gluttony, greed, sexual immorality, lying, covetousness etc - take your pick. All sin condemns and separates us from God.

The answer to sin is not acceptance, but repentance. If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But, if we confess our sin God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness[3]. There is forgiveness for the world in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Law and Gospel faithfully proclaimed, the waters of Holy Baptism, and the body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and wine of the supper, coupled with God’s promises of redemption, create and sustain faith in us. They kill our corrupt sinful nature – our Old Adam – and make of us a new creation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

All of the sinful sexual perversion (along with the dissolution of marriage) that we deal with today was dealt with in ancient times as well; It isn’t as though human beings have changed since the Fall. Israelite husbands were divorcing their wives during the leadership of Moses long before Henry VIII got axe-happy. Jesus tells us, however, that this wasn’t meant to be. He teaches that divorce was only given to the people by Moses because of their stubbornness[4]. To put it another way, they allowed the dissolution of marriage because of sin – their sin. Because our nature is corrupt and sinful, we human beings sin. That doesn’t mean, however, we should accept it and live according to it.

…Jesus allows divorce for one reason only – “immorality,” or illicit sexual intercourse. His thought is plainly that a person dissolves his marriage by creating a sexual union with someone other than the marriage partner…the decree of divorce simply reflects that the marriage has already been broken (Packer and Tenney).

Just because people are sinful doesn’t mean society in general, but the Christian church in particular, should accept and celebrate sinful behavior. That isn’t being inclusive or loving. To hold that attitude is to reject Christ and embrace the world. It is truly loving to tell your neighbor the good news that, while they were dead in trespass and sin, God sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross in payment for that sin – whatever particular perversion they may struggle with (or, as is more often the case, be fond of) – and to call them to repent and to believe that this is most certainly true. All of the things St. Paul describes as works of the flesh that we commit are the sins for which Christ died as the atoning sacrifice. And, though Christians will inevitably fall into sin, that does not mean they should give in and gratify the desires of their sinful nature and flesh on purpose – that would be to make sin their way of life. In short, simply because some people will divorce, commit acts of infidelity, or are same-sex attracted does not mean that we should accept those things as a normal, healthy part of human behavior. Having a standard and failing to live up to it is quite a different thing than living as if there was no standard at all.

So, ultimately, the issue regarding the deterioration of marriage and sexuality has nothing to do with marriage equality being a civil right or whether or not “being gay” equates to a separate gender and needs to be a federally-protected group. It is even irrelevant to the discussion whether or not homosexuality is genetic, because all mankind is already predisposed toward evil and away from God. It’s not same-sex marriage that is destroying marriage; it isn’t divorce, or infidelity that is destroying marriage. The sinfulness of mankind is at the root of the deterioration of marriage. All of these things – homosexuality, adultery, divorce etc – are different manifestations of sin. The issue is, as always, Christ and him crucified. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. The Father gave the Son to ransom mankind from sin – all sin. Repent, and believe the Gospel. Marriage will then take care of itself.

Works Cited

Davis, Jeanie Lerche. "Alcohol Addiction, High Anxiety Linked to Same Gene." 26 05 2004. WebMD. 12 06 2014. <>.

Knapton, Sarah. "Being homosexual is only partly due to gay gene, research finds." 13 02 2014. The Telegraph. 12 06 2014. <>.

Kolodny, Carina. "Marriage Equality Is Destroying 'Traditional Marriage,' and Why That's a Good Thing (An Open Letter)." 20 02 2014. The Huffington Post. 12 06 2014. <>.

Packer, J. I. and M. C. Tenney, Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980.

End Notes

[1] A study found that, while gay men shared similar genetic make-up, it only accounted for 40 per cent of the chance of a man being homosexual. But scientists say it could still be possible to develop a test to find out if a baby was more likely to be gay (Knapton).

[2] Both the CREB gene and the central amygdala have been linked with withdrawal and anxiety. When there is less CREB in the central amygdala, rats show increased anxiety-like behaviors and preference for alcohol. Pandey's newest study puts it all together: It is "the first direct evidence that a deficiency in the CREB gene is associated with anxiety and alcohol-drinking behavior," Pandey writes (Davis).

[3] 1 John 1: 8-10

[4] Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-10