The trend is clear. Surveys have shown a steady and growing acceptance of homosexual marriage. In 1996 (when nationwide polls began), it was opposed by more than two to one. It is now favored 50–48%. So in 16 years there has been a significant swing in the perception of homosexual marriage (not to mention homosexuality itself). Fifty years ago, no one would have imagined that this new thinking would become commonplace. This “new normal” is the consequence of a false worldview, and it ought to concern anyone who values true Lutheran teaching and the good of society. Why?
As Christians we confess the following regarding marriage and the current controversy:
- There is one and only one definition of marriage that God instituted and intended for all people of all time: “The lifelong union of one man and one woman into one flesh, entered into by mutual consent and promise” (Evangelical Lutheran Synod Catechism).
- This universal understanding of marriage is clearly attested to in Scripture (Genesis 1:27–28,2:24; Matthew 19:4–6; 1 Corinthians 7:2–3; Ephesians 5:31).
- This understanding of marriage is also confirmed throughout history, where no government has ever given clear legal sanction to homosexual marriage until the last eleven years in which twelve countries and nine states are now engaging in such an experiment.
- The purpose of the God-ordained marriage is for establishing the most unique loving companionship and the raising of godly children by a father and a mother. Families injured or broken by death and divorce ought to receive the compassion and help of Christians.
- God also intended such marriages to be the foundation of civil society; where such marriages break down, are dishonored, or redefined, civil society is endangered.
- Cultural trends cannot trump the revealed will of God; and, therefore, Christians are to stand firm on the timeless truths of God’s Word rather than allow popular trends to frame their beliefs.
- Christians, like Christ, love sinners. In fact, we are sinners. We come to church because we seek, find, and receive full and free forgiveness in Christ who offers to us what He so painfully bought on the cross. For that reason, we invite to our worship services anyone—the selfish, proud, greedy, idolater, thief, adulterer, homosexual, murderer—who wishes to find real forgiveness and help in a world that can be so burdensome, painful, and hopeless. We can offer no greater love.
But this Christian and biblical approach to marriage has been pushed aside in favor of the postmodern worldview that has quickly and effectively altered the way people, even Christians, view divine matters, often with no critical thought—they just absorb it because it is popular.
Postmodernism teaches that there are no timeless truths that apply to all people of all time; there are only humanly constructed “truths” developed by certain cultures or groups over time, which they then hope to impose on the rest of culture. Therefore, one man–one woman marriage, the postmodernist believes, is not really something from God, but a humanly-constructed concept that one group naively believes is really true and wishes to force upon culture at large. A (postmodern) pastor recently argued this way in a letter to a local paper. He essentially said that his church holds to one teaching on marriage, another church has a different version of marriage; government, therefore, must not impose one church’s version or “truth” on everyone. If marriage is merely a matter of personal or church preference, as this pastor believes, then the door is wide open to allow for any and all definitions. If we cannot limit marriage to one man and one woman, we cannot limit it at all.
The truth is: our understanding of marriage does not originate from behind our church’s doors. It transcends from the very mind of God. It is one of those inalienable truths given to all mankind, based in nature, attested to throughout history, and clearly taught in Scripture. Here we and our children must stand.
Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word;
Curb those who fain by craft and sword
Would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son
And set at naught all He hath done.
David Thompson is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Audubon, Minnesota.