The Evolving Love Of Marriage

Proponents of gay marriage declare that they support love. If two people love each other, then why should there be laws against them getting married? Simple and sentimental, such a challenge to the culture at large reveals that the fundamental understanding of what marriage is and where it comes from has changed dramatically.

As an institution of the Christian West, marriage was understood as having come from God, been ordained by God, and defined by God. The record of this is found in Genesis, where it is written,

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27 ESV).

And

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24 ESV).

When asked about divorce, Christ reminded his listeners about these passages, saying,

Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:4-6 ESV).

Did the proponents of love-based marriages simply decided to ignore history and do things their own way? Yes, it could be said they did, but in today’s secular world, the departure from traditional marriage is not a break from historical precedent, but a mere changing of ideas.

The reason is that the history from which they are building their identity is not the same history as found in scripture. With evolutionary history now established as factual, the biblical history has been supplanted. No longer are the records in Genesis held as factual history (or at the very least divinely given), but merely as cultural phenomenon and philosophical musings, writings from ancient peoples with primitive ideas on sexuality. It is not a small leap to conclude that the ideas of the past are open to scrutiny and alteration, being that they are the product of human thought and not divine decree.

Christians point to the words of Jesus in Matthew as the final authority on marriage, but his declarations were based on the assumption that God ordained marriage as recorded in Genesis. If that record is now mythical or merely cultural, then the basis of Jesus’ argument falls through. Jesus did not say, “You have heard it said that God joined them together, but I say to you,” as if he were introducing something new or challenging cultural expectations. Rather Jesus based his authority on the authority of Genesis.

Since what is written in scripture is no longer allowed to transcend its cultural trappings, it is perpetually relegated to the dusty backrooms of history. That includes the important writings describing God bringing man into existence and ordaining marriage for them. Forever imprisoned in the ancient world are those ideas on marriage.

Without a solid and concrete basis for establishing marriage as one man and one woman for life, society is now free to base it on the most powerful force among people, emotion. Images of romance and “happily ever after” have given young men and women idealized worlds where truth is directly related to how one feels. If a couple is in love, then their relationship must be true in every concrete sense. The high rates of divorce and unstable relationships are facts conveniently forgotten.

There is simply nothing left for the definition of marriage other than feelings of love. Since these are abstract and fleeting, there is now an attempt to make them concrete by enshrining them in law. However, laws based on shifting emotions will inevitably empower one group of people to oppress another in order to avoid having their feelings hurt or their sensibilities offended.

Advertisements

The Phenomenon Of Self-Loathing Christians

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.

These words, spoken by Brennan Manning, have been a staple of criticism leveled against Christianity by Christians. The lifestyle he speaks of, that is the supposed cause atheism, is a lifestyle that is judgmental and without compassion. It is a lack of Christians being good people that is said to drive the modern surge of atheism.

This reveals that Christians are defining themselves not by an objective standard given by God, but by the expectations of an unbelieving culture. Being Christian is not about what a man professes, but how good or kind or noble he is. C.S. Lewis, in his introduction to Mere Christianity, rejects this use of the word “Christian.”

Now if once we allow people to start spiritualising and refining, or as they might say “deepening,” the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word. … As for the unbelievers, they will no doubt cheerfully use the word in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths simply a term of praise. In calling anyone a Christian they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrichment of the language, for we already have the word good.

When the secular culture uses the term “Christian,” it is referring to someone who is approachable, caring, kind, and charitable. The problem is that a man does not need to be a “Christian” to display these traits. Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists all act in this way in some fashion or other and philanthropy is found among skeptics, agnostics, and pagans.

In this frame, “Christian” has nothing to do with objective truth and reality or professing the atoning sacrifice and bodily resurrection of Jesus. It has everything to do with adhering to a certain pattern of speech and behavior meant to satisfy secular humanist expectations of civility.

Manning’s statement, in this sense, contradicts itself. If Christians acknowledged Jesus with their lips and with their lifestyle to the satisfaction of atheists, what motivation would an atheist have to become a “Christian”? It is the standards of atheism and not Christianity that have set the tone of the culture and made atheism the preferred belief system, since its standards emphasize a common humanity worthy of compassion.

Even if Christians were to live the pious life of charity that is said to be the priority of the faith, there still remains Christian belief in ideas like the authority of scripture, the resurrection of Christ, and marriage as ordained by God. These ideas openly challenge the purely material focus that is the foundation of atheist philosophy.

Also, it is impossible for an atheist to lay claim to the title of Christian. The title “Christian” is based off of the word “Christ,” which essentially means “Son of God” or “anointed.” It is the idea that Jesus was sent from God, or anointed by God, or at very least touched by someone beyond the natural. There is a blatant contradiction in a man denying the existence of God and then claiming to be loyal to a God-sent messiah.

And judging the truth claims of a belief system by the behavior of its adherents is a sure way to believe the wrong things. If a group believes that drinking lemon juice makes people immune to the effects of gravity, being the nicest and most charitable lemon juice drinkers around does not make their belief any more tangible. Christians may not always behave according to some standard of civility, but that does not mean that Christianity should be automatically dismissed as a lie.

The leading cause of atheism is atheism. Using the behavior of Christians, measured by secular standards, is merely an excuse, and a means of manipulation. Guilt has proven to be a powerful tool to convince Christians to lay down or at least pacify their fundamental beliefs until Christianity looks more like a religion conjured from the imagination of man than the truth as revealed from God.