In the more than four decades this journal has been in existence, we have had numerous articles about marriage and numerous articles about homosexuality. Our primary point about marriage has been that it is a beautiful and fulfilling relationship that brings two people into a oneness that meets the needs of both and provides a foundation for raising children and meeting the needs of the struggling civilization in which we live. Our primary point about homosexuality is that it is a destructive lifestyle. This is supported by data that shows shorter life expectancies, higher disease rates, and evidence of causes rooted in abuse and possible environmental factors. The role of genetics in homosexuality is not well supported, and even if it were true it would only indicate predisposition. None of us is robotically programmed to be alcoholics or type A personalities or homosexuals, but we may have genetic factors that increase our vulnerabilities to these things.
Let us emphasize that there is a number of issues we do not want to talk about in this discussion. While same-sex marriage issues have been the prime topic of the media there are many other forms of marriage to be concerned about — polygamy, polyandry, group marriages, etc. This discussion is also no “call to arms” for the church to become involved in political issues. Our teaching and our vote may be individually affected by our religious views, but the church must not become a political organization. There are just two points that need to emphasized.
1. MONOGAMY HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOD’S WAY
Marriage began in God’s simple statement, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). God created woman to be a unique companion to man. Adam’s observation is “she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Man’s most fundamental need which is addressed in marriage is not a sexual need but a companionship need. A marriage based entirely on sex is going to struggle. The second chapter of Genesis was written to uniquely frame the relationship of man and woman. “Therefore (in other words, here is the point of this chapter) shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
The Old Testament is a long and tedious account of mankind not doing or observing what God called mankind to do. In Deuteronomy 11:1– 28 God warns that if we do as God says, the result will be a high standard of living and success, and if we do not follow God’s commands the result will be catastrophic.
Man’s first violation of God’s marriage plan is polygamy. It is Lamech (Genesis 4:19) who takes additional wives first. Abraham’s wife Sarah became impatient with God’s slow fulfilling of promises and brought him Hagar to do what God told Abraham would happen. The result of this violation of marriage and also of divorce is painful for everyone involved. Jesus indicated God overlooked this due to the hardness of man’s heart, but adds “but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8).
There is good reason for the opposition of the Bible to all sexual conduct other than a committed one man-one woman relationship. Christ taught against any violent or force-directed response to any violation of God’s commands, but his commitment to the plan instituted in Genesis is clear.
2. DEVIATION FROM GOD’S PLAN PRODUCES BAD RESULTS
The last time I wrote an article on marriage in which I stated that polygamy was a destructive lifestyle, I got a very long letter from a Mormon living in a polygamous household. In his letter he described how happy everyone in the household was and how God had blessed everything they had done. I would contest the likelihood of that evaluation in terms of what everyone in the household could experience, but it would be speculation. Let it be said that humans are adaptable and can make things work that might seem unlikely. When my wife, Phyllis, and I lived in South Bend a gay couple moved in next door to us. We got along fine and they were good neighbors. On the other hand when you look at the divorce rate among heterosexuals in monogamous relationships you might question whether God’s plan works for anyone.
One factor that nearly everyone in the marriage debate agrees on is that promiscuity and infidelity jeopardize future stable relationships. One reason for that we have already discussed — that marriage was based on “It is not good for man to be alone.” A casual sexual relationship still leaves both partners very much alone in most cases. The concept of “becoming one flesh” that Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:4 – 5 talk about involves a fusing of two individuals into one unit that brings a whole new sense of companionship and security. Having lost my wife of 49 years and having that relationship broken was traumatic for me. I remember a good Christian friend who had remarried tell me, when he heard I was engaged to be married again, that I was in for a tough battle with myself. “You’re going to feel as though you are betraying your first wife,” he said. He was right. God condemned adultery and fornication because he knew what violation of the oneness of man and woman would do. For the same reason he sanctioned divorce for the cause of adultery.
The destructive nature of polygamy should be obvious. Males and females are roughly equal in numbers under normal conditions. If one man has 25 wives there will be 24 men with no wives. The oneness God intended for man cannot exist in such a relationship. In addition, disease will be an issue because if one person contracts an STD it will spread quickly through the population.
Similar problems come about in every alteration man makes in God’s plan for marriage — including adultery and fornication. Christians need to educate and inform all of mankind about what God’s plan for marriage is and why alternatives that are labeled marriage will not work. If governments wish to provide financial advantages to people who choose to live together, that is a political choice. I am reminded of a question asked of a presidential candidate in the last election, “When in the conception and birth of a human is the fetus a human?” Our president’s response was that he did not know. When decisions are made without critical information the result can be disastrous. Let us show the world what marriage is and that it works.
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