Christian Marriage in a Re-defined “Marriage” Culture
If you will indulge my musings on the subject, I will gladly indulge your responses. Maybe our mutual wonderment might actually produce something helpful to the Christian church.
It seems nearly inevitable that 21-century American society will soon adopt same-sex “marriage” as legally indistinguishable from what was once known simply as marriage (one man and one woman). Even as I write this I expect both the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California state’s Proposition 8 (the amendment specifically defining marriage as between a man and a woman) to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. If not overturned, they will at least be sufficiently weakened so it will only be a matter of little time before they are effectively overturned. But whether they are overturned or not, it appears that growing public opinion (especially among younger voters) favors no distinction between what are now considered various types of marriage.
If “marriage” becomes legally redefined to bear no gender distinctions, how should the church respond? I am not asking if the church should object to this redefinition because I am assuming that such objection is too little and too late. I am asking how we should respond to a redefined marriage. Do we create a new class of “Christian marriage?” Do we accept the new “marriages” and the resultant “families” into the church?
First, do we create a new class of “Christian marriage?” In the past, Christians have found themselves sharpening their definition of what it means to be “Christian.” Some Christians have even come up with different names to make a distinction between themselves and other “Christians;” the new names include “Born-again,” “Christ-following,” “Evangelical,” “Bible-believing,” and the like. More recently some of those same Christians have sharpened their definition of when “life” begins, in response to the rapidly growing number and acceptance of abortion.
Many non-Christians still prefer church weddings or at least clergy-led weddings. Many “weddings” of homosexuals are likewise held in churches. Does the Christian church, therefore, need to sharpen its definition of marriage and create new ways to name it and celebrate it? Do we treat the marriages of non-Christian heterosexual couples differently than we treat the marriages of homosexual couples who claim to be Christians?
Secondly, how do we accept the couples and “families” of such “married” homosexuals into the church? How will the church respond to legally “married” homosexual couples who bring their adopted or biological/adopted children for religious training? How will it respond to legally “married” homosexual people, with families, who genuinely repent and are converted? Will we ask one or the other “parent” to leave the “family?” This seems similar to the dilemma missionaries have had and continue to confront in polygamous cultures. How will we “welcome” those “families” into our churches to come under the influence of God’s Word, Spirit and people while not “affirming” their lifestyle or their definition of marriage?