Had the phrase “marriage equality” been coined in the 1970s, it may have had reference to an equality of shared responsibilities in the home between a man and a woman. It would have been a phrase that could have given birth to the 1983 box office hit, Mr. Mom.
“Marriage equality,” however, is a more recent addition to the ever-changing vocabulary associated with the LGBT community. “Marriage equality” is the term that will be forever remembered as the rallying cry for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, which by the way seems to be inevitable.
Proponents of “marriage equality” and LGBT rights have long argued that denying marriage and other rights to LGBT individuals is akin to the narrow-minded views that denied people of color rights and privileges in this nation for far too long. Those who have opposed positions the LGBT community have advanced have been labeled bigots, intolerant, narrow-minded, and hateful.
From a sociological/secular perspective, the issue of “marriage equality” on the face seems to be an open and shut case. If governments are willing to offer all of the rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples, why should they be denied the label of marriage? Should the fact that same-sex couples cannot procreate keep them from marriage (this seemed to be the main argument from Charles Cooper before the United States Supreme Court yesterday)? If that is the case, then infertile couples should not be afforded marriage. Perhaps fertility screening should be administered before marriage licenses are issued. If procreation is the only reason why the state has a vested interest in keeping marriage between opposite-sex couples, the reason seems to be removed when the state allows same-sex couples the right to adopt. Sociologically there seems to be no rationale for denying the label of marriage to one man and one woman. Marriage equality, as it has been termed, seems an eminent reality in the United States.
Marriage, however, means something more to me as a follower of Jesus Christ. I understand the secular reasoning for same-sex marriage, but I cannot equate same-sex marriage with what I know and believe marriage to be as a follower of Jesus Christ. As a pastor, I cannot even affirm that a majority of legalized heterosexual marriages in the United State are equal to what the Bible reveals marriage to be.
Biblical marriage is meant to be first and foremost a picture of Jesus and His Bride (the Church). It is a covenant between man and woman to love one another, reflecting the covenant of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Marriage is a union where husband and wife submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (see Ephesians 5:21). Marriage is designed by God to bring about a greater devotion to God in the life of both the husband and wife (see Ephesians 5:26-27). Marriage is designed to be a picture of grace and forgiveness as husbands and wives demonstrate the love of God to one another.
Needless to say, heterosexual couples have done much to undo the meaning of biblical marriage (no-fault divorce, faithlessness to one another, etc.). Marriage equality will only further distance state marriage from biblical marriage. The state, however, does not maintain nor practice biblical marriage; there is a separation of church and state in our nation. It is my sincere hope that the church will distance itself from state marriage in the future, and seek to maintain the purity of biblical marriage. I’m not certain of all the implications, but I am certain that the church has the duty and obligation to keep this covenant sacred.
For those who are followers of Jesus, and defenders of biblical marriage, this changing cultural tide should cause you to examine your beliefs and convictions of marriage. Does your marriage have a greater meaning than found in a certificate issued by the state? The United States is about to embark into what Justice Kennedy today called “uncharted waters,” and only genuine revival will bring the kind of change Christians desire.