Note: Even though this article was written two years ago in response to another SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, I believe my thoughts are even more relevant today. Hence, the repost.
As you probably know by now, the Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and has declined to uphold California Prop 8 which protected traditional marriage. These landmark decisions continue to push our country towards legal gay marriage. On the one hand, this is disturbing for Christians who are concerned about the continued redefinition of a God-given institution. On the other hand, this is an exciting time to be a Christian in this nation and believers have been given a golden opportunity.
Russell Moore has posted an outstanding response that all Christians should read. Moore rightfully suggests that the shifting views on marriage have profound implications on our gospel witness because “marriage isn’t incidental to gospel preaching.” He goes on to say,
There’s a reason why persons don’t split apart like amoebas. We were all conceived in the union between a man and a woman. Beyond the natural reality, the gospel tells us there’s a cosmic mystery (Eph. 5:32).
God designed the one-flesh union of marriage as an embedded icon of the union between Christ and his church. Marriage and sexuality, among the most powerful pulls in human existence, are designed to train humanity to recognize, in the fullness of time, what it means for Jesus to be one with his church, as a head with a body.
And here’s where our opportunity lies.
I have thought for quite some time that this cultural conversation on marriage is a golden opportunity for the gospel that has been dropped right in our laps. Sometimes it can be challenging to turn conversations with people towards the gospel, but this issue makes it about as easy as it’s ever been. Marriage is already on people’s minds, people are already talking about it, and people are very interested in it.
Sadly, I’ve seen some Christians, myself included, miss this opportunity. Sometimes we Christians merely settle for “God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” or “The state has an interest in preserving traditional marriage” and we just leave it at that. While those things may be true, is that really all we’ve got? Is that the best message we can give the world? Heaven forbid! This is our time to tell of a Cosmic love story that began before the foundation of the world as God the Father had a Bride picked out for His Son. And this Son would fight for His Bride, destroy the Dragon that savaged her, restore His Bride, clean up His Bride, and cherish her forever. Ephesians 5:22-33 reveals to us that marriage, as God designed it, is meant to be a parable of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.
And this is not just about gay marriage. Any tampering of marriage is wrong because any tampering of marriage tells lies about Jesus Christ. God detests adultery because Jesus Christ always keeps His promises and is faithful to His Bride. God hates divorce because Jesus Christ will never part ways with His Bride. Wife-beating is wrong because Jesus Christ will never abuse His Bride. Polygamy is wrong because Jesus Christ has only one Bride, the Church. You see, the institution of marriage has been assaulted long before anyone ever thought of gay marriage.
It was first assaulted in Genesis 3, when Adam refused to protect and provide for Eve as he passively stood by and let her be enticed by the serpent instead of crushing the reptile’s skull. Adam’s loveless and selfish passivity told lies about Jesus Christ who always defends His Bride and in fact, Jesus turns out to be the serpent-crushing Hero prophesied in Genesis 3:15. He won where Adam lost. And how did Jesus, in love, defend and rescue His Bride? Go back to that marriage passage in Ephesians 5 that says,
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives… (Eph 5:25-28)
Jesus “gave himself up for her” through His death on the cross which paved the way for our forgiveness and restoration. Jesus’ death and resurrection was the serpent-crushing blow that rescued His captive Bride from the reptile’s clutches. The reason we wish to uphold marriage as God intended is because we wish to uphold the gospel. And again, this “marriage moment” in our culture is a golden opportunity. Dr. Moore agrees. He says,
This gives Christian churches the opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place. Permanent, stable marriages with families with both a mother and a father may well make us seem freakish in 21st-century culture. But is there anything more “freakish” than a crucified cosmic ruler? Is there anything more “freakish” than a gospel that can forgive rebels like us and make us sons and daughters? Let’s embrace the freakishness, and crucify our illusions of a moral majority…we have the opportunity, by God’s grace, to take marriage as seriously as the gospel does, in a way that prompts the culture around us to ask why.
Amen. Let’s seize this moment. The next time you are in a conversation with someone about marriage, tell them about the ultimate purpose of marriage as a gospel reflecting parable. Some may say, “I can’t say that. They don’t even believe the Bible!” I say, “Jesus has commanded us to preach the Gospel to a world that doesn’t believe the Bible. They may or may not believe. But one thing is guaranteed, they won’t believe unless there is a preacher (Rom 10:14). Therefore, go and make disciples…”
Church, let’s not miss this opportunity!
Grace and Peace,