SCOTUS will hear arguments regarding gay marriage later this month (March 2013), and it represents the conclusion of a highly publicized controversy that has been raging for years. Even President Obama has weighed in on the issue in the last day or two. To be sure, the pending proceedings have generated a significant amount of journalistic content in the last few days. Both sides of the debate have engaged in extended legal, political and cultural wrangling and have understood that ultimately the issue would be decided in this fashion. DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as limited to one man and one woman) has been approved in well over 30 states. Yet, homosexual activists and pundits have relentlessly pursued legal recognition of gay marriage under the guise of equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment. The court will likely render its verdict in June.
Marriage as a traditional institution
Marriage as a social institution has been universally understood to be a covenant union between one man and one woman for virtually all of recorded history in every culture almost without exception. Despite erroneous and downright silly protestations of those who favor gay marriage that it is only a recent institution (you should read some of the emails in the author's inbox!), the fact is that one man-one woman marriage has been with us for a long long, time. Unfortunately, there is little question that as a patriarchal institution, people in our society have not always handled marriage as God intended. The high divorce rate attests to that unfortunate truth in a very uncomplimentary way.
Why not gay marriage?
Christian conservative objections to gay marriage have typically come from Biblical standards. The usual reasons are:
- Marriage is defined to be one man and one woman for life.
- Physical intimacy is reserved for the marriage bed.
- Homosexuality is clearly defined to be sinful.
- Whenever homosexuality is mentioned in the Word, it is always referred to in the negative. Homosexuality is never promoted. It seems evident that if God would have approved of homosexuality in any way, He certainly would have said so.
Thus, we have clear Biblical support that homosexual marriage is not as God intended, and homosexual unions are a violation of God’s will. Yet, we have a strong Biblical argument that is rarely, if ever, mentioned. This larger argument has to do with the line of authority in marriage, and it’s extremely significant!
Spiritual authority: the bigger argument
In Genesis 2:18-25, we are told that Adam needs a helper, although Adam seems to be blissfully unaware that he needs someone. This is God’s idea, not Adam’s. In v.19, it is reported that Adam was given the responsibility for naming the “beasts of the field and the birds”. Now, how Adam knew what to name them (a significant cultural question) and what language he spoke are indeed ponderous questions (that’s another Oprah show...). In vs.21-23, Adam takes a serious nap, and wakes up with a sore side after surgery and finds a new creature - a woman! Wasting no time, Adam quickly proposes and the woman (she has not yet been named Eve – a major problem later on!) seeing that she better grab this guy before she has competition, accepts. A brief wedding ceremony takes place and voila – we have husband and wife! In v.23, Adam names her a woman and specifies what she is(similar to what he did with the animals) but does not name her Eve. Consummation ensues on what seems to be an immediate honeymoon (v.25), and we now have a valid and legal marriage.
Now, what has transpired in these verses demonstrates how God wants the line of authority in marriage established. God is showing us that spiritual authority is established thusly:
Spiritual authority is established by the name-giver and seed-sower. The man gives the name and obviously, plants the seed. He initiates the offer via the proposal; he does not force the offer upon her. In Gen. 1:26, God had dictated that Man would have authority over these creatures. Thus, in Gen. 2:19-20, God allows Adam to name the creatures. Thus, we see that the process of naming indicates who has spiritual authority.
Spiritual submission is established by the name receiver and the seed receiver. Again, she almost always takes the name, and obviously, receives the seed. She willingly accepts the groom’s offer, and in so doing, accepts the new name. The action of taking the groom's name in no way indicates a rejection of her identity in toto as some would argue (quite incorrectly). Instead, it indicates the creation of a brand new spiritual entity that both take on together in union with one another. Individually, she is now Mary, wife of John. Individually, John is now the husband of Mary. Taken together, they are two individuals who comprise a spiritual unity that is newly created. Taken together, they are now something entirely different in the spiritual arena. They are still different people in addition to being a newly created spiritual entity.
Although it is not mentioned in this passage, it is presumed that God’s blessing is necessary and required. Marriages typically require some sort of a blessing. Finally, consummation occurs (Webster’s: to complete the marriage or bring to perfection) and the union is complete.
Scripture makes it plain that the husband is the spiritual authority in the marriage. Eph 5:21 states this clearly as does 1 Peter 3:1. It’s critical to understand that God, in His Word, is telling us that the husband is the spiritual authority according to the points listed above.
Spiritual authority and Godly submission
A crucial distinction that is often misunderstood is that husbands are spiritual leaders expressing spiritual authority in a spiritual way - not in any physical or natural way. Eve was Adam’s complement and co-equal in every way in the union. The husband is to submit to his wife’s needs and the wife is to submit to her husband’s. (Eph 5:21). Eve is never someone to be dominated or controlled or abused. It is interesting to note that Ephesians only commands the husband to love his wife – the wife is not commanded anywhere in the New Testament to love her husband. Together, along with God at the center, they form a holy union via the marriage covenant. It is the physical and natural expression of the Trinity; indeed, it is our replicate of the Trinity such that we can experience a taste of what it will be like to be the Bride of Christ!
Who is the husband and who is the wife? Who is the Spiritual Authority?
Thus, the overwhelming problem becomes obvious in a “marriage” of two of the same gender. Who is the husband? Who is the wife? Who is the name-giver? Who is the name-receiver? Who is the seed sower? Who is the seed receiver? Nowhere in scripture does God ever allow us to designate or delegate authority like this! God’s model for marriage cannot somehow be manipulated or altered. We cannot simply pick and choose based on whim. The vital elements of a union that God blesses will not be satisfied. Thus, God will never participate in or bless such a union. The gay couple who elects to participate in such a union should not expect that they will be blessed by God. Ungodly choices have ungodly consequences.
Authority and loving submission vs. power and control
We need to address the why of the God-blessed, authority-submission relationship. Authority is an interesting word. The word “author” comes from the old French word auctor (“father”; c. 1300) which means “founder or enlarger”. It literally means “one who causes to grow” The suffix “-ity” means “the constant state of”. In other words, the true meaning of authority is to consistently create the conditions for growth. To submit to each other in a Godly covenant context that is blessed by Him means a willing mutual submission to God’s purpose plan and will by both participants who complement each other physically, emotionally and spiritually. Because we are all sinners, this pairing in the flesh will never be perfect – which is why we we have an overwhelming need for God!
Power is the opposite of authority. Power in our context here means to rule by force, manipulation, coercion, or intimidation. It means to seize control and express that control of others by virtually any means. It is most sinful to express power in a marriage by either party, when mutual submission is clearly God’s will! It is both sad and tragic that many mistake power for authority, especially in the marriage relationship.
Homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else!
We must not forget that the homosexual community has the same very important rights as anyone else in our country. God loves everyone equally; there is no prejudice in God's mind. They have every right and the freedom of choice to pursue the lifestyle they wish. The Constitution of our great country guarantees them the right to avenues to advocate what they feel is right. It is important that we defend those rights, despite our deep disagreement over what constitutes marriage. In their zeal to legitimize gay marriage, they are expressing their choice to gain recognition by our system of laws.
A legal win in no way makes it right
Should they win at the SCOTUS, the notion of gay marriage will have to be accepted. One homosexual activist admonished me to "get over it and deal with it" as an objection to an earlier article. Having said that, it is clear that even if gay marriage is declared legal, it does not make it correct in God's mind and it certainly does not fit with the Bible.
In the opinion of this author, homosexuals will likely win. In that instance, the very likely and unfortunate descent down the slippery slope of marriage being recognized as whatever anyone wants it to be will be initialized. The grave implication is that marriage as we know it will be forever changed. How very tragic! But take heart, for “He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20)
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Mr. Marica contributes incisive and contemporary Christian commentary for Examiner.com on a regular basis. He holds an MA from Liberty University, and he is the Director of Godly Training Ministries. You can contact Mr. Marica at email@example.com.
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