In his excellent book, Defending Traditional Marriage, Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. cuts to the chase with his answer to the question: “Whose responsibility is it to defend traditional marriage?” According to Dr. Harley, “It starts with you.”
This got me to thinking about past conversations I’ve had with people who believe differently than I do on the importance of preserving and defending traditional marriage. They believe traditional marriage is outmoded, a construct of narrow-minded Christians.
We’ve all met people who believe this way, and Dr. Harley says their viewpoint is winning in the public square today.
If so, God’s people have an opportunity to turn the tide by imitating Christ’s example in Matthew 19. Jesus was approached by some Pharisees with questions about divorce. The Message Bible tells the story of what happened:
One day the Pharisees were badgering him: “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” He answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.” (v. 3-6)
I love the way these verses demonstrate God’s ideal creation—in Dr. Harley’s words: “a permanent and sexually exclusive relationship of extraordinary care between one man and one woman.” Jesus knew that the institution of marriage represented the very foundation of human social order. Righteous and just governments, the welfare of children, healthy church bodies, profitable businesses, etc., are all dependent on the health and stability of the marriage institution. He honored and glorified God by making this point clear.
This passage also illustrates the value of carrying one’s self with honesty, openness and courage. Jesus not only set the record straight about marriage and divorce, He also modeled something Christians need in today’s marriage-unfriendly culture. Defending traditional marriage will be uncomfortable and challenging in many settings. But it’s worth believing in and standing up for.
Next week I’ll offer several practical tips you and I can use at the intersection of faith and culture to defend traditional marriage. Our response to all who would seek to broaden and modernize the definition of marriage must be both truthful and full of grace. The well being of the family and nation hangs in the balance. Speaking in its defense begins with us.
If you have suggestions and tips to offer, I’d love to hear about them. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okay, that’s it. Stay awesome in Christ. Good things are coming!