Green Leaf Press Quarterly Newsletter, July, 2008
One of the major aims of Green Leaf Press is to encourage Christians to articulate their faith more effectively. We are called to be witnesses, but we must also do the digging that helps us to communicate convincingly. To that end, I am going to try to be an example in the specific instance of Proposition 8 facing us here in California in the general election in November. The issue is relatively simple: will the idea of marriage remain what it has essentially been for four millennia or will we innovate and give it a quite different meaning? I hope that you find this helpful. I would be happy to hear your response.
WHY SHOULD WE INSIST THAT MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN?
Hebrews 13:4, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous."
We all live in one country with one set of laws. One would think that those who are not Christian would have enough respect for their Christian neighbors to reject making a travesty out of the meaning of marriage! In the Roman Catholic Church marriage is one of the seven sacraments. Although it is not recognized as a sacrament by Protestants, the apostle Paul gives it sacramental or near sacramental status in Ephesians 5:21-33 where the relationship of Christ with his church is intertwined with the relationship of husband and wife. Consider Ephesians 5:31,32: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church."
One reason for people, of other beliefs, to support Proposition 8 is to preserve the integrity of the family. Only a father and a mother can produce children. And it is when raised by a father and a mother that children are most likely to receive the nurturing that will help them to become well-rounded adults. Integral to our understanding of marriage is the family that results from the union of a man and a woman and the children that become a part of that family, and beyond that the family connectedness between ancestors and their descendants. To hold that marriage can be recognized between two men or between two women is to violate all of the precedents and laws of virtually every society in the world.
It may well be true that Christians and Jews have a strong interest in this issue because of the teachings of the Bible on marriage, but this issue definitely is not limited to the Jewish or the Christian community. Virtually all peoples in all times have recognized marriage to be between a man and a woman. To claim that marriage, traditionally understood, is prejudicial is to violate basic justice which requires that laws apply to all equally in the same circumstances. People who identify themselves as homosexual can marry a person of the opposite sex if they choose to do so. The laws which regulate marriage apply equally to them.
The biblical perspective is clear: Marriage is between a man and a woman.
Gen 2:24, "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Matthew 19:3-6, "Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause? He answered, Have you not read that the he who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
I Corinthians 6:13b-20, "The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, The two shall be one flesh. But anyone united to the Lord become one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."
I Corinthians 7:2, "But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband." In I Corinthians, chapter 7, the apostle Paul makes the case for Christians to be celibate so that they can be more fully devoted to the Lord. However, the apostle expresses concern for that, (undoubtedly larger) group who may struggle with sexual temptation, and urges them to marry. The issue of sexual temptation is central in this chapter. The scriptures nowhere suggest that males and females should satisfy their sexual desires in intimacy with another of the same sex.
Eph 5:3-5, "But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."
Foster H. Shannon, President
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