This was the question posed to me by the editors of Christianity Today recently:
If the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, what next?
Hypothetical questions are not always productive, but in this case, I was privileged to participate in the panel, which featured answers from two other individuals. The panel of three also included Elodie Ballantine Emig, instructor of Greek at Denver Seminary and Timothy Dalrymple, managing editor at Patheos.com.
You can read the entire exchange by clicking here.
Here is how I answered the question:
Should the Supreme Court discard the age-old understanding of marriage, the church will face challenges unlike any it has encountered. And yet the calling of pastors and their churches on this issue will remain largely the same as it is now.
The biblical ideal of self-sacrificing, lifelong, heterosexual marriage is already countercultural. We must still uphold and celebrate God’s wise and magnificent design in this unique, complementary, and irreplaceable relationship between a man and a woman. We must teach coming generations of its benefits and beauty. And, above all, we must model it well.
It is vital that we frame marriage as an example of God’s common grace, given for the benefit of all humanity, transcending even fundamental faith differences. We must speak about the damage to our culture of departing from this blueprint—not because “we want our way,” but because people inevitably suffer when God’s basic guidelines for human flourishing are jettisoned.
The church will be called upon once again to help its people embrace challenging times through the prism of God’s Word, and to hold out the beacon of hope that Christianity offers to the lost. If we want others to understand marriage from God’s perspective, we should strive to converse in a spirit consistent with God’s heart. We must speak truth boldly, yet with compassion, understanding, and love.
Pastors must recommit themselves to the task of teaching on the subject of marriage from a biblical perspective. We must train our children about this issue, first in the home, but also in Sunday school and teen groups.
We must also humbly confess the damage we have done to marriage by our own careless treatment of it. Though the divorce rate among committed Christians is lower than among the general populace, it remains far too high. The single greatest argument we can present to the world on this issue is to live out marriage in all its God-ordained fullness and radiant beauty.
We must approach this sacred institution with profound seriousness. We must offer—even mandate—robust premarital counseling for church members. We should raise an army of marriage mentors, experienced couples who have weathered the storms, to walk alongside and show the way to younger couples, and to serve as a lifeline to those struggling to stay afloat. Let us also lift up and celebrate those couples who have endured through decades, and make those examples known to a younger generation, many of whom have not seen marriage successfully modeled in their families of origin.
To be sure, I pray that the Supreme Court does not make this mistake. But if it does, the church will have a new opportunity to shine its light in increasing darkness. Let us pray it doesn’t come to that, but prepare as though it will.