This month’s issue of First Things magazine features a powerful argument for upholding and proclaiming the truth and beauty of God’s design for marriage.
“The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage” is a product of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, a group founded 20 years ago by one of my heroes, the late Chuck Colson, and another highly regarded statesman of the faith, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus.
Several prominent Evangelical and Catholic leaders have endorsed the statement.
Given the cultural redefinition of marriage taking place before our eyes, and the accompanying attempt to eradicate the God-instilled differences between the two genders, it’s an important and timely message.
And it’s aimed directly at Christian believers, to help us take stock of exactly what we have in God’s good gift of marriage, and what is at stake if our culture continues on the path of jettisoning this institution that goes back to the very first man and woman. It is written with eloquence and in a spirit of grace, but it does not flinch from offering a sober assessment of the cultural challenges facing us.
I will share a couple of key excerpts below, but I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it for yourself. It’s worth your time.
The statement begins with Jesus’ declaration that “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” The authors go on to note many instances where this most fundamental reality is being flipped on its head.
For instance, some jurisdictions, like California, have replaced “mother” and “father” on certain birth certificates with simply “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” (and even “Parent 3” and “Parent 4”). In many places, marriage licenses now simply refer to “Spouse 1” and “Spouse 2,” replacing “husband” and “wife.”
The authors write: “When society systematically denies the difference between male and female in law and custom, our fundamental dignity is diminished, the image of God within us is obscured, unreality becomes legally established, and those who refuse to conform are regarded as irrational bigots.”
As I’ve noted numerous times in this space, we’re already seeing this happen. I wrote just a few days ago about the Michigan woman who had her fitness center membership revoked because she expressed concerns about men being allowed to change with her in the women’s locker room. Numerous florists, bakers, photographers and other professionals have been punished by government authorities for refusing to participate in a same-sex “weddings.”
These are strange and even unsettling times, but they’re also times for us to let our light shine brighter as the darkness descends. Along those lines, the writers of this statement close with an extended exhortation that should be a charge to all of us as followers of Christ in this mixed-up culture.
“All Christians and men and women of good will must work to rebuild the culture of marriage and live lives that attest to the joy and beauty of marriage…. Keeping in mind the obligation to speak the truth in love, we must find ways to distinguish true marriage from its distortion, and we must do so without abandoning the public square. We owe our fellow citizens a socially engaged witness to the truth about marriage, which, with the family, is the unalterable foundation of a healthy, humane society.”
“The time is approaching—indeed, in some instances it has already arrived—when Christians in this country will suffer abuse for upholding the truth about marriage. We encourage our fellow Christians to stand firm in obedience to Christ, for that obedience is the most compassionate service we can offer society. In doing so, we must strive to heal the wounds of a confused and broken culture, to foster human flourishing, and to honor the God who created human beings in His own image, male and female. For Christ said, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10).”
After you’ve had opportunity to read the full statement, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.