A Tail Is Not a Leg, so What Is It Biblically?
I don’t know how many of you have kept up with this month’s news about Proposition 8, but it was struck down by a federal appeals judge (who was, incidentally, nominated by former Gov.-then-Pres. Ronald Reagan) as unconstitutional earlier this month. Is this a tragedy? Yes. The judge’s logic for declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional is even more tragic. I will not go into details here because many other more able Christian writers have given us a clear look into the judge’s flawed and fallen reasoning.
Just when I thought all this talk about Prop 8 had gone to sleep, though, it rose to the surface again. On Monday, Justin Taylor quoted and linked to an online article by Stephen J. Heaney. The quote that Justin Taylor included on his own blog intrigued me, and so I read Professor Heaney’s full article. To get to the point, Mr. Taylor’s quote was better than Professor Heaney’s article.
Professor Heaney makes some valid points in his article, but his tone is largely philosophical, rather than biblical. Consider:
As deeply social beings, we remain connected to each other across generations. Even adults with children of their own need the wisdom and guidance of their fathers and mothers. It is easier for those who enter this project that they have affection for each other, and that they form a self-giving friendship. To perform these actions lovingly is the properly human way.
… because it leads to children, sexual intercourse has extraordinary public consequences. It is not, as we might like to think, a purely private act. It matters a lot to the community who is doing it, and under what circumstances. So the community endorses certain sexual arrangements; others, which fail to abide by the fullness of truth of human sexuality, the community rejects as unfitting for human beings. To support those that are fitting, it offers the institution of marriage. In marriage, the couple promises before the community to fulfill this project through vows of fidelity and permanence, joining their bodies and their lives to make the project work.
Are those statements true? Yes. But do they present everything that the Bible teaches us about marriage? No. Consider also his conclusion:
Today, marriages crumble, families are torn, society flounders. Why? We are not living in the truth. We accept a bad definition of marriage, acquiesce to almost any sexual arrangement, glorify the quest for sexual pleasure, treat children as a means to fulfill our desires. Overwhelmingly, research shows that rearing children in any other environment than with both their natural parents is damaging. Sometimes that damage is unavoidable, as when a parent dies, but we shouldn’t seek it. And it certainly won’t help to say the impossible is real.
We need the truth. We need to fix the legs. Calling a tail a leg only makes matters worse.
Now, that is a wonderful conclusion. But it left me wanting more. Professor Heaney admits that “marriages crumble, families are torn, [and] society flounders” because we “are not living in the truth,” but he does not explicate what this “truth” is. And indeed, philosophically, he cannot. Truth is philosophical in part, but not in whole. Ultimately, God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17). So for us to see the entirety of not only why homosexual marriage is wrong but also (and more so) what God desires for marriage, we must look to the Bible. We will look at all of these passages in more detail in my upcoming blog series, but I present them to you now for you to see from Scripture what God intends for marriage:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28)
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18)
Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. (Romans 7:1-3)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
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 as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)
… train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:4-5)
These passages (and many others) in Scripture reveal to us God’s plan for marriage. To counter the five philosophical aspects of marriage, I will now present five biblical aspects of marriage, from the above passages:
- Marriage is created by God for God’s own glory (Genesis 1:27-28, Ephesians 5:32)
- Marriage is monogamous between a man and woman (Proverbs 5:18, Ephesians 5:31)
- Marriage lasts a lifetime (Romans 7:1-3)
- Husbands are to provide for their wives, love them sacrificially, and lead them as Christian men (Ephesians 5:25-30, 1 Timothy 5:8)
- Wives are to lovingly submit to their husbands, “to love their … children, be self-controlled, pure, working at home, [and] kind” (Ephesians 5:22-24, Titus 2:4-5)
Whereas Professor Heaney refers to marriage philosophically as “1) two people 2) who love each other 3) want to perform sexual acts together, so 4) they consent to combine their lives sexually, materially, economically 5) with the endorsement of the community.” I refer to marriage biblically (which does not exclude the previous list but adds to and clarifies it) as a lifelong covenantal relationship created by God for God’s glory between a man and woman in which the man lovingly and sacrificially leads and provides for his wife, whom lovingly submits to him in the marriage relationship.
I will not leave you with application, however; I will rather remind you of the gospel. For it is the power of God to those who believe. It is in humble reliance upon the sufficiency of Christ and the promised empowering of the Holy Spirit that we Christians will do a better job of discipling teens. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, but through Him we can do all things (John 15:5 and Philippians 4:13).
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