Christianity and Marriage

One of the issues that arouses emotional response from many people in our culture is the subject of marriage. The gay community has brought a challenge to western culture by tying human rights to the issue of marriage, and essentially demanding that marriage be redefined so that the biblical concept is not used to define the marriage institution. The major issue that logically rises from such a decision is whether there can be any absolute definition of what marriage is. Since we live in a culture that is attempting to do away with any absolutes, it is highly likely that ultimately there will not be an absolute definition of marriage. If that is the case, then many other forms of marriage will be viewed as acceptable. Polygamy as taught by Islam and many Mormons would have to be condoned. Group marriages, polyandrous marriages (one wife, many husbands), family marriages, and any number of other things the human mind can conceive will become acceptable. There are those in our society who are willing to accept this notion as a function of human rights and say that any system a person wants to engage in should be accepted by society at large because that is a basic tenet of human rights.

What is happening in the Moslem world today is a good demonstration of why this kind of thinking will not work. Anthropologists tell us that 75% of the world's cultures practice polygamy, but Islam is the only major religion in the world that specifically sanctions polygamy. Mohammed had five wives and the Koran makes reference to this being the proper number. Osama bin Laden's father had 52 children by 16 wives. We would like to point out that not all Muslims embrace polygamy just as they do not all embrace jihad, but the Koran is very clear in its sanctioning of polygamy, and Moslem fundamentalists embrace and enforce it among populations where they have control. Mansour Al-Nogaidan, the prominent Saudi Arabian dissident describes his own experience in clear terms: "You can't have a girlfriend in this society, it is too expensive to marry. As a young man, all you are thinking about is sex, so the teachers tell us, `Don't worry, no need now, when you kill yourself you'll have plenty of girls in heaven." What does this practice do?

William Tucker writing in The American Spectator (June 2004, pages 50-52) summarized it this way.

In a society where not all men will be able to reproduce, excess males have very little social value. Therefore it is not surprising to find among this bachelor cohort three major characteristics: (1) an excess of pent-up sexual frustration, (2) an internalized sense of personal worthlessness, and (3) an extremely nihilistic--shall we say suicidal--disposition toward self-immolation and violence. Suicide bombers are easily recruited in these ranks.

Those who maintain that all religions are equal and that there should be no discussion of why one religion might be in error while another is correct need to look logically at where the teachings of various religions lead. The gay marriage issue may not produce a gender imbalance, but there are other issues that have similar consequences. The most fundamental problem is that if marriage is to be redefined in terms of everyone's personal rights, then marriage cannot exist at all without enormous negative consequences for society.

 The Christian system clearly identifies one concept of marriage--one man, one wife for life. That is the ideal and that is what God intended from the beginning. Polygamy was sanctioned in the Old Testament, but it was human modifications in God's plan that caused it, not that God wanted man to practice it. When the relationship between man and woman is described in Genesis 2:24 the Bible clearly states "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (not wives) and they shall become one flesh." In the New Testament there is a clear defining of marriage in these terms, and even commands that man and wife should not separate for any significant time to avoid burning with passion (see 1 Corinthians 7:5-9).

The logic of this system is clear. Since babies are born in roughly equal sexual numbers, there should essentially be a mate for every human. Everyone has the potential right to sexual and emotional fulfillment in marriage. This is even stated in our famous Declaration of Independence that "all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Any change in the basic design of God will bring misery and unhappiness to humans. All other options lead to disease, problems for children, abuse, and chaos for society. Humans do incredibly stupid things, and it is human weakness that cause the problems even in the Christian system. That does not cancel the validity of the system. The fact that an American does something horrible and stupid does not mean that the United States and our way of life is invalid. The Christian institution of marriage and its conduct is a great apologetic for the validity of the Christian system.

--John N. Clayton

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