Home > Devotionals, Social Commentary > A Tail Is Not a Leg, so What Is It Biblically?

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:

  1. Marriage is created by God for God’s own glory (Genesis 1:27-28, Ephesians 5:32)
  2. Marriage is monogamous between a man and woman (Proverbs 5:18, Ephesians 5:31)
  3. Marriage lasts a lifetime (Romans 7:1-3)
  4. Husbands are to provide for their wives, love them sacrificially, and lead them as Christian men (Ephesians 5:25-30, 1 Timothy 5:8)
  5. 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).

  1. Billy Liu
    August 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    As Christians, we undoubtedly know that Truth is Christ! We know this as theological fact! However, I don’t think Heaney was really intending to write a theological article there, right? I’m sure his targeted audiences aren’t really Christians. So, I have no problems with his ‘philosophical’ conclusion.

    Anyway, as Christians, I really don’t think we really have all of our legs perfectly healthy and not in need of repair. Christian divorce rates aren’t really that much better than non-Christians. Yes, we Christians are still human and therefore still ‘sinners’ just like everyone else. We’re not righteous because we are really all that righteous with our works… God only see us as righteous by our faith in Him!

    So when we don’t really have a ‘leg’ to stand on as hetero-sexual Christians, why is there a need for prop 8? 1 man and 1 woman kind of marriage is really common sense. We don’t really need prop 8 to remind heterosexuals who to marry. Prop 8 also likely won’t turn or ‘repair’ homosexuals back to heterosexuals.

    Humanity is really messed up…, I think this much is self evident. So how can we repair our damaged legs? (to cut down our own divorce rates and perhaps turn homosexuals into repentance…?) All I know is that prop 8 isn’t the answer. Protecting the word ‘marriage’ thru legal means isn’t the answer. Only Jesus is the real answer.

    But Jesus is not here on earth at the moment. How can people see this Truth?

    From us!

    If we relying on Christ to strive to have loving and happy ‘marriages’, I’m sure that’s the best way to resolve this problem… to get people to want what we have!

    Plus, ‘marriage’ is only a life time deal! Jesus did say that we’ll no longer be given into marriages later on in his kingdom. Love is forever, but marriage was never meant to be forever. So I wonder is the word ‘marriage’ really worth the fight? Scripture also said that ‘love can cover a multitude of sins'(1Peter4:8). If two person are really in love with one another that much, that selflessly I’m sure it can cover up even homosexuality!

    Anyway, personally, I just don’t believe we need to protect ‘marriage’ the word. We definitely should protect our own marriages from falling apart. But is it really worth it to continue the legal battle? Must we be like King Solomon… and order the guards to simply cut this ‘baby’ in half to settle a dispute? Must we continue to be that divisive? The real loving mother would give up this ‘baby’ than to see it chopped in half.

    Remember, Jesus is not only just the Truth. He is actually full of GRACE and Truth. And let’s not forget God is love. Did Jesus himself involved in any legal battles in court systems of his days? He knows he’s right, but he didn’t force things to go his way. He yielded… all the way to the cross. What looks like a defeat is actually a victory.

    I just wonder…, even if we won the supreme court case and successfully struck down gay marriage for good. It’ll look like a victory, but what would we gain? If God really wants to rain fireballs down to kill all those married gay folks, may His will be done. But as Christians who have broken legs ourselves, who are we to condemn others of their broken legs?

    The greatest commandments are to love God and to love one another. God is basically all about love. Marriage commitment is also promoting this kind of selfless love. I say just let gay people have it if they are really in ‘love’.

    • August 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      Billy, thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I apologize for not clarifying the “leg” analogy enough. I do not imply that we Christians are sinless, but we DO have legs to stand on … sound legs called The Bible. The Bible defines marriage, as I showed in this post, as being between a man and a woman. Allowing homosexuals to marry would only FURTHER erode marriage.

      Indeed, if you read my other posts you will find that I largely agree with you; I too decry the dreadful divorce rate among professing Christians. If you take the time to read my other posts you will see that I do not pick out homosexuality as THE problem in the erosion of marriage but one problem among MANY.

      And please, Billy, do not make a false claim; you ask, “who are we to condemn others of their broken legs”? The Bible affirms that all people apart from Christ are condemned. Woe to us if we call right that which the Bible calls wrong! (And the Bible repeatedly calls homosexuality wrong in both the Old and New Testaments.)

      And God is Not basically all about love. Above all, God is holy. The angels in heaven do not cry, “Love, Love, Love,” but “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Marriage of homosexuals may promote ROMANTIC love … but it does not promote biblical love. Homosexual “love” is a sin, and we Christians must not be afraid to declare it as such.

      • Billy Liu
        August 25, 2010 at 4:22 pm

        Jordan, I’m sure it’s safe to say that nothing and nobody on earth is Holy as our God. Yes, we ought to aim for holiness too because our Father is holy, but the greatest 2 commands are to love this holy God and to love one another.

        I concur that I should not be afraid to call it a ‘tail’ even when they insist on calling it a ‘leg’. I’m not that politically correct!😉 However, I guess my point is that regardless of how we call it, the problem isn’t being solved! Passing prop 8 or declaring gay marriage illegal really won’t repair their broken ‘legs’, right?

        I’m really not trying to defend gay marriage as right, but I just think we can be devoting our resources else where than to fight this legal battle of what marriage should be. We’re all sinners and we are capable of ‘love’, right? Homosexuals are sinners too. Why is it that their ‘love’ is unacceptable? 2 men can definitely love one another. Just as Jesus can love his disciples and disciples can love Jesus! I think we can both agree that it is just ‘homosexuality’ that is wrong. Casual heterosexuality is wrong in God’s eyes too! I’m pretty sure some loveless abusive heterosexual ‘marriages’ are not very pleasing to God’s eyes either. Why is that? I believe it’s mostly because they’re done without love.

        So I tend to believe in verse 1Peter4:8? Love can cover multitude of sins. Of course I understand if you insist that homosexuality is one of the exceptional sins… we can both agree that homosexuality is a sin, but we’ll just have to agree to disagree regarding how powerful love can be. Can it cover homosexuality or not? We’ll just have to ask God about that later.😉

    • August 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm

      Billy, I agree with a ton of what you say. Rather than citing EVERYTHING that I agree with you about (and there’s a lot), I’ll focus on the one or two things where you and I differ.

      You write: “We’re all sinners and we are capable of ‘love’, right? Homosexuals are sinners too. Why is it that their ‘love’ is unacceptable?” Homosexual ‘love’ is not BIBLICAL ‘love.’ It is by nature SINFUL ‘love’ if you even want to call it that. True love is love that seeks to honor God. I believe you would agree with me that homosexuality is NOT honoring to God.

      I find your use of 1 Peter 4:8 disturbing. Perhaps, though, I misunderstood your use. You SEEM to imply that nonrepentant homosexuals can enter the kingdom of heaven, which the Bible denies. YES God’s love can cover homosexuality, but if it covers homosexuality, that homosexuality WILL be repented of. There may still be a struggle with homosexuality, but a person will not give themselves fully to homosexuality if they are truly born-again.

      The Bible says that God’s love (to save them) covers people by giving them faith and repentance necessary for eternal life.

      To determine whether we are in agreement fundamentally, please answer these two questions:
      1. Do you believe that a person can savingly believe on Jesus Christ even if they do not acknowledge him as Lord?
      2. Do you believe that a person who is unrepentant of ANY sin (homosexuality or another) will enter eternal life in the midst of their PERPETUAL and uninterrupted unrepentance?

      I believe that your answers to these questions will prove whether we are on the same page. I had thought that we were … but your use of 1 Peter 4:8 and (seeming) over-emphasis of God’s love troubles me. I pray that I am wrong about those newer suspicions, though.

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