Facts are stubborn things,” wrote John Adams. “Whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
And so, by that measure, there’s been a lot of conjecture and spin surrounding the push to redefine the sacred institution of marriage.
But what are the facts? Where does the issue concerning same-sex marriage currently stand?
- Same-sex marriage is now legal or nearly so in 35 states.
- Of those 35 states, only 12 came about via ballot box or the state legislature. Judicial decree accounts for legalization of homosexual unions in the remaining 23.
- In a rare moment of good legal news, the 6th Circuit federal court ruled last month that marriage amendments passed by popular vote in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee were constitutional.
- That said, the Supreme Court is likely to pick up one or more of the various cases that are in conflict. If they do, many analysts believe there are enough votes on the current court to mandate the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
And so, if those are the facts, what are we, as Christians who support traditional one-man, one-woman marriage, to do?
I’m asked that question a lot by members of the media. I see these interviews as real opportunities to share about the beauty and truth of God’s design for marriage. Just prior to the election, I spoke with Jeremy Diamond of CNN about all of this. We had a good conversation which resulted in a fair article. However, the headline seemed to indicate that Christian leaders, myself included, were backing off our commitment to marriage. Jeremy didn’t write about me backing off, nor did he quote me saying any such thing, but that sentiment was captured in the headline.
Here’s a fact: Nothing could be further from the truth!
I’ve sometimes noted in these interviews that with activist judges disregarding millennia of history and tradition regarding the very nature of marriage—not to mention God’s revealed design—a marriage license from the state no longer holds the same meaning from a Christian perspective. In essence, activist judges have gutted the state’s definition of what marriage truly is.
But, you know what? Judges aren’t the only ones to blame for this assault on God’s design and definition of marriage.
We, as Christians, share a portion of the blame, too. Here’s why:
Decades of no-fault divorce have undermined the concept of lifelong commitment. Many Christians simply tire of their spouse and allow themselves to be whisked away by a fantasy, that the grass will be greener on the other side of the fence. Premarital sex and cohabitation have become commonplace among those professing to be Christian. Calls to our Counseling department reveal that Internet pornography is destroying marriages on a daily basis. And many individuals, again including younger evangelicals are simply choosing to forego the altar altogether. In fact, I saw a recent report saying that for the first time ever, more than half of U.S. adults are unmarried.
At Focus, we vigorously continue our efforts to uphold the concept of one-man, one-woman marriage, but currently the trends are not moving in our favor. So, what if the Supreme Court decrees that across our nation marriage is no longer reserved for the union of one man and one woman? Does that mean marriage ceases to have meaning for the Christian?
On the contrary, I think our witness to the beauty and goodness of true marriage becomes all the more important. It will be up to us to show a fraying culture that marriage is so much more than “just a piece of paper,” or merely an association of any two or more people who profess to love each other.
Marriage is a sacred union of a man and a woman that brings with it myriad benefits to spouses, their children, and society at large that simply cannot be replicated by any other relationship. I would go so far as to say a society cannot ultimately flourish, even long survive, without stable marriages at its core.
Above and beyond that, for Christians, is the recognition of what our marriages symbolize. In some mysterious way, the Bible tells us, the husband-wife bond is a reflection, a miniature representation, of the relationship Jesus has with His bride, the Church (Eph. 5:31-32). When we demonstrate unwavering commitment and sacrificial love to our spouse, we are mirroring to our culture the very love Christ has for His people. What an awesome responsibility and privilege!
That’s why I take every chance I get when speaking with Christian audiences to urge us to pour into our marriages. Research tells us that for those Christians who take their faith seriously, the divorce rate is notably lower, but even so it is still far too high. What kind of testimony might we have to our neighbors if our divorce rate as believers was but a fraction of the general population?
Here at Focus we are doing everything in our power to see that vision become a reality. We invest a great deal of our effort and energy into creating resources to help couples not just survive, but thrive.
Roughly one-third of our radio broadcasts are devoted especially to the topic of strengthening marriages. Our website is packed with helpful information, including in-depth answers to hundreds of the most frequent marriage-related questions we receive. I’m also very excited about our new Family Project video curriculum, a long-awaited follow-up to our Truth Project series. It details the incredible importance of God’s basic design for the family, along with its companion feature film, “Irreplaceable.”
In addition, we have a licensed professional counseling staff standing at the ready to help with marriage (and parenting) challenges and crises, all at no charge. And earlier this year, we welcomed the amazing folks at the National Institute of Marriage into our Focus family. They do great work with on-site intensives that have helped rescue thousands of marriages from the brink of divorce.
In short, whatever struggles or questions you may be facing in your marriage, we can help.
Am I concerned about the state of marriage in our nation? Certainly, but I’m not disheartened. I’m also disinclined to lay all the blame for our current circumstances at the feet of rogue judges or even those who advocate for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
It’s time for us to own up to our own sin and get our own house in order. We can educate, encourage and pray for the culture – but we cannot control it. However, we do have it within us to take our own marital commitment seriously.
However challenging the season, I’m actually excited about the opportunity ahead of us. As our culture continues to drift from the stable moorings of our past and we experience ever greater chaos and confusion as a nation, our neighbors, friends, and colleagues at work and school will be searching for answers in their own lives.
Will we be there to point them to the Gospel and to the One who can show them the Way?
One of the most powerful ways we can do that is by loving our spouse the way Christ loves His church.
I welcome your feedback and would like to hear from you. How do you see this?