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).
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.