(The following was broadcast over The Back to God Hour. It is here reprinted by permission. It sets forth the truth as clearly as anything I’ve read and I commend it to you for your study – Dudley Ross Spears.)
“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. ‘Mark 10:6-8
Last year was a big year for homosexual people seeking government endorsement. In Canada an Ontario court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, and a British Columbia court gave a similar ruling. The United States Supreme Court overturned all remaining laws against homosexual activity, and a Massachusetts court ruled in favor of gay marriage, saying the state constitution “for-bids the creation of second-class citizens.”
Homosexual activists rejoiced at these decisions. But what happened next? When the Ontario court gave the go-ahead to gay marriage, did throngs of homosexual people flock to the altar? Did countless same-sex couples, eagerly desiring marriage but previously prevented by “discriminatory” laws, rush out and get a marriage license? No, gays and lesbians celebrated the decision as a landmark for their political and social status, but only a few got married. Most did not.
Why not? It seems that most don’t want to get married. Most want official government support for homosexual marriage because they think it sends a message that it’s good to be gay. But in their daily living, few care to be tied down to another person. All want the aura of prestige and normality that comes with saying homosexuals are as eligible for marriage as heterosexuals, but far fewer want the monogamy and life-long commitment of traditional marriage.
A gay website expressed concern that while marriage for gays might seem to re-move discrimination, it might strengthen other forms of discrimination. Homosexual marriage might demean bisexuals who want to be free to sleep with either men or women, depending on their appetite. It would also be unfair to transgender folks who don’t want to define themselves exclusively as a man or a woman but want to regard themselves as male or female, depending on their mood. “Transgenders will be left in the dust,” complains the concerned writer. “They will need to assume a single ‘official’ gender in order to be married.” Yet another problem, he says, is that defining marriage as a union of two persons discriminates against anyone who wants more than that. “The possibility of legalized consensual polygamy,” he laments, “will be removed from lesbian-gay culture.”
Perhaps he need not worry. Polygamy, whether heterosexual or homosexual, may be the next thing to gain court approval. Already a movement is under way in the United States. A married husband and wife, joined by another woman, went as a three-some to apply for a marriage license. Their application was denied on the basis of an existing law prohibiting polygamy, but the Utah Civil Rights and Liberties Foundation filed a lawsuit in federal court on their behalf, charging that the anti-polygamy law is discriminatory and violates their rights and freedoms. If personal preference is the ruling principle in same-sex matters, it’s only logical that government also not discriminate against people who prefer polygamy.
Why shouldn’t government give marriage licenses for multiple spouses? Why shouldn’t government give marriage licenses to same-sex matings? The simplest answer is that marriage between one man and one woman is the right context for sex and childbearing and is the basic building block of a healthy culture and civilization. This is not true of polygamy or same-sex matings, so there is no good reason for government to encourage and promote these deviations. Besides, it’s impossible for government to approve same-sex marriage. There is no such thing.
The word marriage means the union of a man and a woman. There has never been such a thing as same-sex marriage, and as long as words mean anything, there never will be. The dictionary defines marriage as “the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife.”
This is not discrimination; it is definition. Would it be discrimination to say that a brother and sister are siblings and not spouses? Would it be discrimination to say that a group of first-year college students moving into a campus apartment are roommates and not newly-weds? No, that’s just an accurate use of words. The word marriage means the union of a husband and wife. It would be nonsense to apply the word marriage to a brother-sister relation-ship or a college roommate relationship, and it would be silly to demand that the government regard such relationships the way it regards marriage. Likewise, it is nonsense to apply the word marriage to a same-sex pairing and to demand that the government regard it the way it regards marriage.
The institution of marriage goes all the way back to the beginning of the human race. From the very first, marriage has been the union of a man and a woman. The book of Genesis makes this clear, and Jesus him-self, the supreme authority, declares, “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’ (Mark 10:6-8). Whatever two people of the same sex do together, their relationship is not marriage—not according to Jesus, not according to the dictionary, not according to any culture since the beginning of creation.
Some judges have misused the power of courts by ordering parliaments and legislatures to support a right to gay marriage that the judges somehow discovered in constitutions and charters that never mentioned the matter. Now the question is, How will citizens and lawmakers respond to such folly? Courts may claim power to create a new institution from nothing, they may claim power to redefine words, reinterpret constitutions, and reshape society, but marriage will always be between a man and a woman. Marriage existed long before judges and courts. Even if same-sex lovers decide to call their relationship a marriage, even if they can get a court to agree, even if a congress or parliament kowtows and changes the definition of marriage, that doesn’t make it so.
Redefining marriage to include same-sex partners won’t just change the eligibility of people to get married. It will also change the institution of marriage to mean something besides faithful monogamy. As I mentioned earlier, many homosexuals want public, official affirmation of their brand of sexuality, but few actually want marriage if it means permanent, exclusive devotion to one partner. Especially among homosexual men, the idea of “committed relationships” is far different from what traditional marriage means by commitment.
The Netherlands (homeland of my grand-parents) was the first country to legalize “marriage” for same-sex couples. A Dutch study has found that the average length of steady partnerships is about two years. And even if a so-called committed relationship lasts awhile, what does it really mean? It might mean sharing a house and perhaps a bed, but it seldom means sexual faithfulness. A study of homosexual men in committed relationships found that less than 5 percent were faithful to each other throughout the relationship. Dutch homosexuals in “committed” partnerships averaged eight sex partners per year besides the person to whom they were supposedly committed. What most heterosexuals would call cheating or adultery, many homosexual men—even those in longer-term relationships—would call a way of life.
Perhaps this explains why most Canadian homosexuals who support government approval of gay marriage are not eager to enter marriage themselves. They might consider marriage only if it could mean some-thing totally different from what it has meant historically. The editor of a Canadian gay publication said, “I’d be for marriage if I thought gay people would challenge and change the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of ‘till death do us part’ and monogamy forever.” In other words, he’d consider marriage if it didn’t involve someone of the opposite sex, if it weren’t a commitment to be sexually faithful to one person, and if it weren’t meant to last until death. If marriage had none of the things that make marriage what it is, he’d be all for it!
Some who want government-approved gay marriage argue that it will encourage more monogamy and faithfulness among homosexuals. But gay marriage won’t make homosexuals more monogamous and faithful; it will just make marriage itself less monogamous and faithful. Indeed, to under-stand the movement toward gay marriage, we need to see how it fits into the bigger picture of the sexual revolution. We would never have reached a point where gay marriage could be considered if heterosexuals had not been so busy trashing marriage. David Frum writes,
The background to the triumph of same-sex marriage in Canada is the collapse of marriage in the general population. [In just six years] the number of [unmarried] couples living [together] . . . rose by 20 percent . . . the number of married couples increased by just 3 percent. . . . The spread of cohabitation seems to have taught Canadians to think about family life in new ways. They are increasingly willing to think of family as a revolving‑door arrangement (the average cohabitation lasts only five years), in which parents move in and out of the lives of their own and other people’s children. If you . . . have become accustomed to the idea that the children in a home will often have a biological relationship with one adult but not necessarily the other, then you will not find same‑sex marriage a very exotic [unusual] idea; indeed, you will be ready to believe that prejudice and hatred are the only possible reasons that somebody might oppose same-sex marriage. (National Review, July 14, 2003) People who oppose same-sex marriage are right to do so, but we must all realize that we didn’t reach this point overnight. The sins and failings of heterosexuals—the anti-child attitudes and millions of abortions, the epidemic of single-parent situations, the view of sex as a personal, undeniable right disconnected from personal commitment or public obligation—these things provide the setting in which same-sex marriage doesn’t sound so different from what’s happening among many heterosexuals today.
It would be wrong to blame homosexuals for all of this. Gay marriage might do further damage to whatever remains of traditional respect for marriage, but most of the dam-age has already been done by heterosexuals. Society already went a long way down the wrong path before it got to this point. But now that we’re at this juncture, what should we do? Should we just plunge further ahead till we reach the point of no return? No, the demand for gay marriage should serve as a wake-up call. It should alert us to how far marriage has fallen and how urgent it is for us to turn around, repent, and go back to marriage as God designed it and as Jesus defined it. It’s time for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike to repent, seek God’s forgiveness, and live by God’s wisdom.
The Government’s Role
When it comes to government policy, many say it must be kept separate from religion. They say morality can’t be legislated. But government legislates sexual morality when it outlaws polygamy, bestiality, rape, child molestation, and child pornography. The question is not whether government should legislate morality but how much. No government can prohibit or punish every form of sin, of course. It criminalizes only those things that are considered most harmful to public order and well-being.
Still, even if a government doesn’t criminalize or punish all sins, there’s a huge difference between not punishing something and promoting it. There are three ways a behavior can be dealt with by government: it can be punished, it can be tolerated, or it can be encouraged. At one time homosexuality was punished. Now it is tolerated. The next move is to encourage it, to exalt it to the same level of value and importance as marriage. This would be a colossal blunder. It’s one thing to tolerate sins committed in private; it’s quite another to make a particular sin an honored part of the public fabric.
Have you noticed the irony of recent arguments in favor of homosexuality? In one breath, supporters say that it’s a totally private matter that government ought to stay out of. But in the next breath, they demand the government to get involved and grant official approval. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws against homosexuality, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.” A homosexual said, “Our right to privacy needs to be respected like everyone else’s.” But if privacy and being left alone are the goals, why are there public parades flaunting homosexuality? Why are there demands for public schools to teach homosexuality early and often? Why are there demands for public funds to cure deadly diseases spread by homosexual behavior? Why make demands for special government approval of homosexuality by granting a marriage license?
If homosexuality is an entirely private matter for individuals to pursue and for government to stay out of, then it is not some-thing for public schools to teach, and it is not something for government to license, regulate, and subsidize. But if it does indeed have public merit, that would negate the argument that it’s merely private conduct. Those who demand, “Keep the government out of our bedroom,” should not demand, “The government should license and support what we do in our bedroom.” Those who say, “What we’re doing is nobody else’s business,” shouldn’t say, “What we’re doing is so important to the public good and the future of society that it should have the same public and government approval as marriage.”
Many personal behaviors are morally wrong, and yet government chooses neither to punish nor promote but simply tolerate them. In our society, for example, there is no punishment for adultery but at least government does not give adultery special recognition and privileges. There is no punishment for pornography—but at least magazines like Playboy aren’t required reading in government schools. Similarly, there’s no punishment for homosexual sin, but we should not grant it official public approval and exalt it to the level of marriage.
Some people think it’s a healthy compromise to restrict the word “marriage” to the union of a man and woman but then to have the government license “civil unions” between homosexuals. But the effect would be to grant pretty much the same legal and public status as marriage without calling it that. Why single out homosexuality for special treatment and not declare other relationships to be “civil unions”? Should government declare civil unions for all students on college campuses who room together for a few years? Should government declare every close friendship a civil union? Of course not. So why license friendships in which the main difference is the additional element of sinful sex?
The simple fact is that marriage is uniquely important and strategic in raising up the next generation of citizens. That’s why good government has a special interest in supporting marriage. It is not just biblical teaching but observable fact that children flourish best in families headed by a father and mother committed to each other in lifelong marriage. Society blesses marriage because marriage blesses society. The future of society depends on the future of the family. It does not depend so directly on other types of relationships, and it certainly doesn’t depend on relation-ships that are sinful.
The Church’s Role
In the meantime, whatever the government does, the church must keep proclaiming the Word of God. Whatever lawmakers and judges do, Christians and their pastors must keep teaching and living by Jesus’ standard of celibacy in singleness and of faithfulness in marriage between a man and woman. We must keep calling sexually immoral people to repent and find salvation in the risen Lord.
The sad truth is that some apostate churches and pastors have raced ahead of government in rejecting biblical standards for marriage. The United Church of Canada officially passed a motion calling on the Canadian government to approve of same-sex marriage. The United Church has been ordaining homosexual pastors and blessing same-sex unions for years. In the U.S. the Episcopal Church consecrated as bishop a man who divorced his wife and went to live with another man, not only dealing a blow to marriage but also to the unity of the church.
Such blatant errors shocked some people, but for decades these and other denominations have supported leaders who denied the virgin birth and bodily resurrection of Jesus and who denied salvation through Jesus alone. When leaders deny the essence of Christianity, should it shock us that they also deny Christian morality? Any church that does such things is no more a church than a same-sex partnership is a marriage.
Jesus says, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Wolves in bishop’s clothing have gnawed and torn at vital biblical doctrines of God and salvation, and now they are tearing at the moral pattern of sex, marriage, and family revealed in the Bible.
Government folly in exalting homosexuality would have not have happened if churches had not led the way to perdition. It’s common to say that religion shouldn’t influence politics, but the truth is that religion always influences politics, and bad religion produces bad politics. The religions of secular humanism and apostate theological liberalism are the driving forces behind the sexual revolution and the move toward same-sex marriage.
Those who value a healthy civilization need political courage to resist the latest onslaught and to strengthen the crumbling foundations of society. But political action, though important, is not enough. Government is a product of culture, and culture is largely a product of church and family (or lack thereof). This means we don’t just need amendments or laws to defend the family. We need revival in our churches, rebirth in our relationship with God, and renewal in marriage and family life.