Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Is Marriage? Why Defend It?

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As marriage is being dragged to the altar of sacrifice by Governor Gregoire, Senator Ed Murray and other homosexual activists who seek to redefine it, it is essential for those of us who defend it, to understand why we do what we do. And what it is that we are defending.

I will be sharing several columns over the next few weeks, intended to help us understand what marriage actually is and what it is not. I will be referencing some of the most brilliant Christian biblical scholars in the world.

Our understanding of Scripture is at the heart of understanding marriage. Marriage pre-dates civil governments. Civil governments have sought to encourage natural marriage because of its inherent value to society. Marriage is not an institution created by government. Nor is it an institution that government has the right to re-define or use for social experimentation.

There are 4 main biblical references which refer to homosexuality. All are negative.

1. The story of Sodom-Genesis 19: 1-13 and a related reference to Gibeah in Judges 19.

2. The Levitical texts-Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

3. Paul's definition of a depraved pagan culture in Romans 1: 18-32.

4. Paul's two lists of sinners in I Corinthians 6: 9-10 and I Timothy 1: 8-11.

Homosexual activists, including some pastors within the church, have redefined and attempted to marginalize these passages of Scripture as relating to something other than homosexual behavior, while working to advance an agenda based of "loving long term relationships" and "fairness and equality."

President Obama has referred to the passages of Scripture in Romans as "obscure."

Activists and some church leaders are teaching that Sodom and Gibeah was related to violations of hospitality, Leviticus is about cultural taboos, Romans is about shameless sexual orgies and I Corinthians and I Timothy is about male prostitution or the corruption of the young.

This is false teaching.

Their conclusion is that the Bible does not condemn loving long term, committed relations between homosexuals, therefore, marriage must be redefined in the name of social justice, civil rights, equality and fairness. And this is essentially the message that Gregoire, some pastors and other heterosexuals are putting forward on behalf of homosexual activists.

However, the Christian rejection of homosexual behavior and so-called homosexual "marriage" does not rest on these Scriptures alone, but on a much broader understanding and the positive teaching in Genesis 1 and 2 about human sexuality and heterosexual marriage.

The late Dr. John Stott, an evangelical pastor and professor who helped shape the biblical understanding of evangelical Christianity worldwide, has addressed this very subject in a very concise, easy to understand statement.

The following excerpt from his book, "Issues Facing Christians Today," specifically speaks to Heterosexual Gender, Heterosexual Marriage and Heterosexual Fidelity.

As a biblical Christian ready to stand for marriage in Washington State or elsewhere, please take a moment and be informed. Also, please forward this to friends, family and those with whom you attend church.

Dr. John Stott
The following is an excerpt from his book, "Issues Facing Christians Today".

Personal note: Dr. Stott passed away this past summer. He was 90 years old.

"Heterosexual Gender: A Divine Creation
Firstly, the human need for companionship. 'It is not good for the man to be alone' (Genesis 2:18). True, this assertion was later qualified when the apostle Paul (surely echoing Genesis) wrote: 'It is good for a man not to marry' (1 Corinthians 7:1). That is to say, although marriage is the good institution of God, the call of God, the call to singleness is also the good vocation of some. Nevertheless, as a general rule, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.' God has created us social beings. Since he is love, and has made us in his own likeness, he has given us a capacity to love and be loved. He intends us to live in community, not in solitude. In particular, God continued, 'I will make a helper suitable for him.' Moreover, this 'helper,' or companion, whom God pronounced 'suitable for him,' was also to be his sexual partner, with whom he has to become 'one flesh,' so that they might thereby both consummate their love and procreate their children.

Heterosexual Marriage: A Divine Institution
Having affirmed Adam’s need for a partner, the search for a suitable one began. The animals not being suitable as equal partners, a special work of divine creation took place. The sexes became differentiated. Out of the undifferentiated humanity of Adam, male and female emerged. Adam found a reflection of himself, a complement to himself, a very part of himself. Having created the woman out of the man, God brought her to him, much as today the bride’s father gives her away. And Adam broke spontaneously into history’s first love poem, saying that now at last there stood before him a creature of such beauty in herself and similarity to him that she appeared to be (as indeed she was) 'made for him':
This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman',
for she was taken out of man.
-Genesis 2:23

There can be no doubting the emphasis of this story. According to Genesis 1, Eve, like Adam, was created in the image of God. But as to the manner of her creation, according to Genesis 2, she was made neither out of nothing (like the universe), nor out of 'the dust of the ground' (like Adam, v. 7) but out of Adam.

Heterosexual Fidelity: The Divine Intention
The third great truth of Genesis 2 concerns the resulting institution of marriage. Adams’ love poem is recorded in verse 23. … Even the inattentive reader will be struck by the three references to 'flesh': 'This is… flesh of my flesh… they will become one flesh'. We may be certain that this is deliberate, not accidental. It teaches that heterosexual intercourse in marriage is more than a union; it is a kind of reunion…. It is the union of two persons who originally were one, were then separated from each other, and now in the sexual encounter of marriage come together again…

It is of the utmost importance to note that Jesus himself later endorsed this Old Testament definition of marriage. In doing so, he both introduced it with words from Genesis 1:27 (that the Creator ‘made them male and female') and concluded it with his own comment ('so they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate' , Matthew 19:6) Here, then, are three truths which Jesus affirmed: (1) heterosexual gender is a divine creation; (2) heterosexual marriage is a divine institution; and (3) heterosexual fidelity is the divine intention. A homosexual liaison is a breach of all three of these divine purposes."

Be Vigilant. Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.

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Dr. John Stott was Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place in London. He founded John Stott Ministries, the US branch of Langham Partnership International, providing scholars with the materials and opportunities to learn and teach the Bible.