Same-sex marriage is now legal in Arizona. A ruling today by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick will keep state officials from enforcing a law passed in 1996 and a 2008 constitutional amendment approved by voters that protected marriage as between one man and one woman. Arizona now joins nearly half of the states in the country which have had same-sex marriage imposed upon them by the judiciary and not through the will of the people.
While this news is troubling, there are at least two ways we should NOT respond, because both wrong responses reject three important truths about marriage.
1. Woe is Us!
Don’t mistake me. This is a terrible decision – throwing out 2,000 years of history recognizing marriage as between a man and a woman, disregarding the purpose and role of marriage in society, and prioritizing the sexual desires of adults over giving children the opportunity to grow up with both mom and a dad. “Redefining” marriage will hurt society.
But hand-wringing, an all-is-lost attitude, pointing fingers, blame shifting, getting angry and verbally attacking those who oppose us – these responses do nothing to build up marriage.
2. Just Throw in the Towel.
Now, more than ever, the pressure is on to give up and accept the new sexual morality. Christian organizations, churches, business people, all of us face a choice - to give up or keep standing for what we know is right, even when it’s unpopular.
There are at least three reasons that both of these responses are wrong:
1. Marriage is marriage. True marriage is between a man and a woman because the two genders coming together sexually in a lifelong commitment separates it from every other relationship. Only male-female relationships can produce children, and having parents committed to each other is best for children. A woman can be a great mom, but she can never be a dad, and a great dad can never be a mom.
Dr. Russell Moore wrote recently: “We have no authority to revise what Jesus has handed down to us. Our vision of marriage is not the equivalent of a church constitution and by-laws, adaptable by a majority vote. Marriage is not simply a cultural or legal practice, but is instead an icon of the union between Christ and his church, embedded in the creation (Eph. 5:22-31). Without a Christian vision of marriage, we have no Christian vision of the gospel.”
2. Marriage is creative, diverse, and beautiful. Marriage is a lifelong union between husband and wife. Humanity has always been, and will always be, composed of men and women. That can’t change, and that’s why the timeless institution of marriage can’t be changed by a court. Marriage celebrates humanity’s diversity, not only because of the complementary of the sexes in marriage, but because throughout history and across cultures, different races and ethnicities have always married.
Yes, the divorce rate is high. Now, more than ever, we must commit to strengthening our own marriages, affirming the value of marriage publicly, and championing the beauty of marriage in our culture.
3. This is not just about marriage. Redefining marriage policy is about more than just creating same-sex marriage – it is about deconstructing the role and nature of marriage in our society.
It’s about marginalizing the Christian sexual ethic and enforcing a new sexual morality. Those who disagree with this new morality are first marginalized, then punished. We’re already seeing this happen with the city of Houston issuing subpoenas for pastors’ communications, the ousting of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich, and attacks on Christian business people, like Rob and Cynthia Gifford of Liberty Ridge Farm, Jim and Mary O’Reilly of Wildflower Inn, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop, Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers, Blaine Adamson of Hands on Originals, Elaine and Jon Huguenin of Elane Photography, and Melissa and Aaron Klein, owners of a bakery called Sweet Cakes by Melissa.
For these people, and the many more who will risk everything for their right to live by their faith, we will continue to stand for marriage. And because we understand what marriage is, we will continue to promote the truth, value, and beauty of marriage in our culture.
Will you stand with us?
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