The church’s dilemma with gay marriage
May 10, 2012
What a week it’s been for the topic of marriage. It seems the nation has been forced to think more critically about the topic of marriage. What actually is marriage? Who defines marriage and who writes the rules? This week North Carolinians took to the polls, voting to disallow gay marriage, and President Obama took to the media, announcing that he now supports gay marriage.
Throughout the discussions, conservatives and religious groups repeatedly pointed to the importance of cultural disconformity, arguing for the right to define and interpret marriage according to their sacred, ancient Scriptures.
But what many Christians have overlooked in this discussion is the glaring contradiction staring them in the face–many Christians vehemently fight to protect marriage from cultural (i.e. homosexual) influence without realizing that Jesus’ most basic teachings on marriage have been compromised and ignored by the church for decades. Let me provide an example. Jesus plainly teaches that divorce is not an option for a married couple. Period. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke Jesus directly forbids remarriage after divorce, teaching that such an act is sinful (e.g., Matt 5:32, Mark 10:11, Luke 16:18). Similarly, the Apostle Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching, saying, “I command the married, according to Jesus’ own teaching, that a woman must not divorce her husband, nor a man his wife. But if a divorce does occur, they must remain unmarried or be reconciled to each other” (1 Cor 7:11).
Although I’ve only provided two examples, these serve to capture the Bible’s consistent teaching on marriage and divorce. Yet, despite such clear and consistent biblical teaching, these practices are increasingly common among todays Christians. Perhaps Christians who remarry after divorce are just ignorant of the Bible. In my own discussions, however, I find that Christians simply choose to ignore, reinterpret, and make lame excuses to justify their own need to divorce and remarry. How many times does one hear a Christian say, “I know the Bible’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, but surely God is more concerned about my personal happiness. Those teachings on divorce and remarriage are outdated. They were meant for a culture very different than our own.”
Suddenly, one realizes that Christians are using the exact same excuses to justify divorce and remarriage as gays are using to justify their need to marry–personal happiness and a different culture as the end all justification and reason.
If the church has so blatantly ignored the Bible’s teaching on marriage, why should the secular culture be expected to follow biblical norms? Why do Christians picket and campaign against gay marriage, but not against remarriage after divorce? Why do pastors agree to marry a couple that has been divorced? Why is okay to uphold the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality but not on divorce? Why do Christians walk around carrying signs that say, “God hates fags”? Haven’t they read the Bible? “‘I hate divorce’ says the Lord God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16).