“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))
Last week the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted on an amendment to change the definition of marriage from “one man and one woman” to “to persons,” a move that would allow ministers in the PC(USA) to perform same-gender marriage. Surprisingly to everyone, the vote failed – but only barely. The vote was 308 for and 338 against. Many in the church today give thanks to God for this act of preserving grace, but are all too aware that the issue will be before the GA again in 2014.
Interestingly, the GA did pass a recommendation for churches and presbyteries to commit to two years of “serious study and discernment” regarding Christian marriage. It is hard to say what will become of this study, other than to further entrench positions on either side of the aisle. I have a difficult time believing that the Rainbow Stole wearing delegates will be convinced, nor are open to persuasion, that they have been mistaken in their argument for “redefining marriage,” nor do I consider that I could ever be convinced to change my understanding of what I believe the Bible clearly states is God’s intention for marriage. In a post-modern society where every individual is the final authority on what is real and what is right, is there anyone listening to the forsaken prophet, crying in the wilderness, “Thus sayeth the Lord…”?
Still, having an opportunity to study the meaning of Christian marriage is never a bad thing, and I encourage you to take any opportunity to do so. I am sure that there will be studies forthcoming from a General Assembly task force, and from para-church organizations – some in favor of the traditional teaching on marriage, some not. But don’t depend on those sources, study this for yourself.
Try this – starting in Genesis 2, see how marriage was giving as a blessed union between a man and a woman, then look forward through scriptures to see examples of how marriage works. Sometimes it is broken and dysfunctional – there are patriarchs with multiple wives and concubines, who have adulterous affairs, there are women who are unfaithful to their husbands – all because of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. But notice also the faithful and committed husbands and wives who demonstrate what marriage ought to be. Look at what Jesus taught about marriage, notice also how Paul saw marriage as a parable for our relationship as the church with Christ. Let us develop and Biblical understanding of marriage, then let us allow that understanding to shape and heal our own marriages.
Next, here’s some suggested reading:
The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller – I’ve only just started this myself, but I highly recommend it.
The Pittsburgh Declaration on Marriage – read through this and consider signing it yourself.
Theology Matters – May/June edition – One of the best briefs on marriage, considering the arguments for revision, and then presenting a solid argument for the Biblical understanding of marriage.
Foundations for a Curriculum on Marriage, Part I – Mary Naegeli is the Director of the Presbyterian Coalition and writes a great article on the differences of perspective as we enter this season of discussion.