The Francis Asbury Society

Marriage Matters

By Stan Key

For 2,000 years there has been virtually unanimous consent in the western world. Marriage is the state of being man and wife. One man. One woman. In a holy covenant of love that excludes all rivals. For life.

But today that definition is being challenged. Voices are arising from various quarters claiming that lesbian and homosexual relationships should also be included. These people know that if you are going to change society you have to change the dictionary. And so legislation is being pushed that would legitimize, normalize and legalize “gay marriages.”

This is no minor skirmish. The foundations of civilization are being assaulted and the future of our culture is at stake. Proponents of “gay marriage” are seeking to normalize something that God has condemned. How we define marriage determines how we understand gender, human sexuality, and what it means to be a family. And if the family is destroyed, our civilization cannot long endure. The church of Jesus Christ dare not be silent. Words attributed to Martin Luther come to mind:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Much confusion and misinformation exists today when it comes to addressing this issue of “gay marriage.” Before we can think clearly, we must first clear away the myths.

Myth #1—It Doesn’t Matter

Many today are saying, “What’s the big deal? Don’t get so worked up. These people aren’t hurting anyone. Let them have what they want. After all, it is a private matter.”

But that is just the point. Marriage is not private. It is a public ceremony (with required witnesses) whose intent is to normalize and legalize a human relationship. This is an issue that goes to the very heart of how a culture understands sexuality, gender, and family.

Others would intimidate us into silence by claiming government should not “legislate morality.” But the very nature of a “law” is to define what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable and what will not be tolerated. The government tells us how fast we can drive, what to do with our garbage, that shoplifting is a crime, and that I can’t marry my sister. If governments don’t legislate morality, what do they legislate?

Myth #2—This Is Hate Speech

Promoters of “gay marriage” are quick to accuse anyone who dares to speak out against them as being vicious, hateful bigots.

Unfortunately, hateful bigots do exist. In fact, they can be found on both sides of this issue. It is not my intent to defend or excuse anyone who is mean spirited in this debate. But I refuse to be silenced by the myth that claims anyone who is opposed to “gay marriage” is guilty of “hate speech.” In fact, many throughout human history would consider such talk an expression of true love, not hate.

Jesus taught us how to speak the truth in love. Perhaps the most famous illustration was when he dealt with woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1–11). Her accusers used “hate speech” and were ready to stone her for her sexual misconduct. But Jesus responded differently:

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

It is indeed possible to love sinners and at the same time hate their sin.

Myth #3—This Is about Genetics

For years scientists have been searching for the hypothetical “gay gene.” Supposedly such a gene would explain homosexuality. “Hey. I’m born that way.”

Some people are born with a genetic predisposition for basketball. They’re tall. At 5’9” I’d like to blame my lack of ability on the basketball court on my genes. However, I know some people who are shorter than I am who are superb ball players. And I know some who are 6’6” who are terrible. The point is this: genetics tell only part of the story. We are all predisposed to make wrong choices—that’s the “sin gene.” To say that we are not responsible for our actions because of genetics is to reduce us to the level of animal behavior where we become controlled by our instincts. The search for the mythical “gay gene” may result in the dehumanization of us all!

Myth #4—This Is about Civil Rights

Proponents of “gay marriage” would have us believe that ethnicity and sexual orientation are somehow synonymous realities. As our culture once discriminated against certain groups of people based on their ethnicity so we now are guilty of depriving certain rights (such as marriage) to groups of people based on their sexual orientation.

But think again. Ethnicity is a matter of some unchangeable physical characteristic, such as skin color or ethnic heritage. Homosexual behavior does not fit this definition. A person cannot control the color of his skin. But how he chooses to express his sexuality is another matter.

Myth #5—To Repress Human Desires Is Psychologically Unhealthy

Really? I don’t think our culture is ready to make such a statement about those who have desires to use cocaine or to molest children. Think about this: our culture goes to great lengths to restrict the rights of those who desire to hunt, gamble, or use tobacco. Since when did we begin to believe that having a strong desire for something (even a genetic predisposition) gives someone the right to do whatever they want to do? The Gospel of Jesus Christ has a great deal to say about crucifying our rights, and this is true not only for those with same-sex attractions but for everyone! “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24).

Myth #6—The Bible Doesn’t Condemn Homosexuality

Any unbiased reader of the Bible will easily understand that God’s Word condemns homosexual practice. And yet surprising numbers of clergy and even some denominations claim that the Bible does not say what it patently says. Normally, this is done by saying, “The Bible is old-fashioned and culturally bound. Therefore, it cannot be trusted to speak to the issues of our day.” Such an approach to Scripture creates a smorgasbord Bible where readers are free to pick and choose which parts they consider normative and which parts they reject. The result is theological chaos… indeed what we find in many churches today.

What does the Bible say about homosexual behavior? Let’s take a quick walk through some of the most important passages that speak about this subject.

Genesis 1:26–28

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness….So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it….”

God, not the government, is the author of marriage. Therefore, only God has the ultimate right of defining what it is. He does so here at the dawn of creation. One man. One woman. In a holy covenant of love that excludes all rivals. For life.

Notice especially the first command given in human history: Be fruitful and increase in number. This is the very thing “same-sex marriage” cannot do! By definition, such unions are sterile, barren, non-creative.

Leviticus 18

This chapter could be titled, “God’s Dictionary of Sexual Aberrations.” Every society must define the limits of appropriate sexual expression. Without such definition, they will inevitably drift into moral depravity and ethical chaos. Leviticus 18 is God’s list of limits. More to the point, God speaks clearly about his attitude toward homosexuality: Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable (Lev. 19:22). It is hard to get clearer than that.

Romans 1:18–32

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Rom. 1:26–27).

Like a selfish child demanding to play with a razor-sharp knife, so these depraved sinners demanded their sexual freedom. Eventually, God reached a point when he gave in and let the rebels have what they so desperately craved. This is a picture of divine wrath. The judgment that falls on such sinners is really self-inflicted.

I Corinthians 6:9–11

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (I Cor. 6:9–11).

Corinth was a city famous for its immorality. It was to the Roman Empire something of what Las Vegas or San Francisco is to America. Those in Corinth who converted to Jesus Christ discovered the power of the Gospel to set them free from the chains of sin and depraved practices. And that is what some of you were (past tense). The Gospel of Christ had saved them, cleansed them and empowered them to live a new life of righteousness and holiness. You were washed… sanctified… justified…

Those today who claim that homosexuality is a permanent condition and that those who practice such behaviors can never change make it evident that they do not believe in the power of the Gospel: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

So What Can We Do?

1. Promote God’s model for the family. Our first order of business is to look at our own families. If we are honest, we’ve not done a good job of modeling family as God intended. Husbands have not loved their wives and laid down their lives for them. Wives have not respected their husbands. Parents have not given moral guidance to their children and have abdicated the call to be priests and spiritual guides.

Homosexuals do not have a monopoly on sin. There is enough immorality, promiscuity, and permissiveness among the people of God to keep us on our knees in repentance for a long, long time. Before we take on the dragon of evil in our culture, we must make sure our own homes have experienced God’s forgiving and transforming grace. Our first call to action is repentance (II Chr. 7:14)!

2. Get involved. We live in a country where the laws are still made by the “consent of the governed.” Let your elected representatives know how you feel about these issues. Many law-makers only hear the noisy voices of those advocating for “gay marriage.” So let your elected representatives know what you think. Edmund Burke famously said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

3. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). This is no call to form vigilante committees and call out the cultural Taliban to impose morality with threats and force. May God deliver us. As followers of Jesus, we are called to love sinners and hate sin. This is not easy. Jesus was full of grace and truth. We must be too. To win the battle for marriage will require both.

4. Preach the Gospel. The battle for marriage will ultimately not be won at the ballot box. Christ is the answer, not politics. The Gospel announces freedom from all sin and power to live a new life. It is not just those who struggle with same-sex attraction who need the Gospel. The “sin gene” infects us all.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).


(Published in The High Calling, May-Aug 2014 issue.)

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