As I write this, a hot-button topic in America, perhaps as never before, is same-sex marriage. The larger issue of acceptance of homosexuality has bubbled to the surface of public discourse. President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to endorse gay marriage. Perhaps as a result of his leadership, a seismic shift in public opinion has occurred over the last year, with polls showing that a majority of Americans now support gay marriage.
The fire continues to be stoked. Recently Phil Robertson, patriarch of the family in the television series Duck Dynasty, made some coarse but direct statements about homosexuality. As of this writing, the network airing the program has “suspended” Robertson over the comments and the future of the show is in question.
For the Christian who accepts the entirety of God’s Word as inspired, homosexual behavior is clearly condemned. It is not really fair, though, to isolate this form of sexuality; God’s Word condemns every other form of sexual activity outside the bounds of one man – one woman marriage.
Most are aware of the of the clear prohibitions against the various forms of sexual sin that are spelled out in almost humorous detail in Leviticus in the Old Testament. There is no ambiguity in the New Testament, either. First, Jesus only supported one man – one woman marriage:
Have you not read that he [God] 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)
This devastates the argument by same-sex marriage supporters that Jesus was silent on the issue of gay marriage. He didn’t need to directly comment on any aberrant form of marriage; he affirmed the only acceptable form of biblical marriage. All else was implicitly prohibited and unsupported.
Further implicit evidence is offered by Paul in describing the qualifications of those who lead the church. Speaking of elders (or bishops) and deacons, they are to be men who are husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). Clearly, they are not husbands of another husband or wives of another wife.
Perhaps most importantly, Paul writes that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:28-33). In the context of this passage, marriage is again presented as between one man and one woman. Marriage has a deeper meaning beyond the day to day physical–or legal–relationship.
With the issue of same-sex marriage so clearly put to rest, a glaring question still remains: what about the gay people? Are they born that way? I don’t know. But frankly, that is not the issue.
We all face struggles of some kind. Is it really any different for a man to be drawn to another man than for a man to be drawn to a woman who is not his wife*? Both these men must decide if they are to follow their own physical passions or if they are to follow God. They are to decide if their own glory takes precedence over the glory of God. Jesus says,
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
We should not concern ourselves with what a celebrity thinks about our sexual lives, or more broadly, our morality. We should not care what a television network thinks, nor should we fret over the opinions of talking heads in media outlets. No, we should care what God thinks. He is sovereign, not them. He is the one whom we will see when we pass away. He is the Judge.
I urge my fellow Christians to be unafraid to state the exceptionally clear biblical truth that God only endorses one man – one woman marriage. But in that process let us not forget that the core issue is to love and glorify God. Let us live our lives, and encourage others to live theirs, so that God may be glorified.
* Interestingly, in Old Testament Israel, the punishment for both adultery and homosexuality was death (Leviticus 20:10,13). In the New Testament Paul writes that, among others, neither adulterers nor homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Sexual sin is not limited to homosexuality; there’s plenty of room for heterosexual sin as well.