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Editorial: Same-sex marriage and gender questions

‘As the culture around us shifts, we remain committed to the spiritual design of marriage.’

Christians face pressure to reconsider our view of sexuality and marriage. The pressure comes not just from hostile voices outside Christianity. It also comes from sincere voices among us. The hostile voices have long viewed the church as irrelevant and out of touch. The sincere voices hope the church finds relevance in a changing world. 

If marriage and sexuality were merely social arrangements, the issue would be of little concern to followers of Jesus. But Jesus and Scripture have always viewed marriage as much more.

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Like the church today, Jesus faced pressure to succumb to political and cultural tension. He was certainly aware of the conflict within the Jewish community. Knowing what happened to John the Baptist for his refusal to compromise the boundaries of marriage, the Pharisees wanted Jesus on record in hopes of serving his head on a platter. 

Yet Jesus remained consistent with the same definition and spiritual framework of marriage recognized “from the beginning.”

Challenged by Pharisees on his view of marriage and divorce, Jesus pointed to Genesis and the story of creation as the standard (Matthew 19). Creation reveals the intentional design of our male-female identities and the intimate oneness reserved for marriage. Jesus was clear: God alone “joins together,” and neither the Pharisees nor culture had the right to redraw the lines. As a result, adultery and fornication violate the deepest trust and intimacy reserved exclusively between a man and woman in marriage. 

As the story of Jesus spread across the Roman world, the church carried his view of marriage and sexuality with it. Paul warned the Corinthians not to adopt the sexual ethics of surrounding cultures and called the church to a higher standard. Peter noted the surprise of outsiders who viewed the Christian way of life as strange. Any life modeled after the self-denial of Jesus will invariably result in conflict with a culture driven by self-discovery and self-satisfaction. 

Without this spiritual framework, the Christian view of marriage and sexuality makes little sense to nonbelievers. Who could possibly oppose two loving and committed individuals devoted to each other, regardless of gender? Who are we to question anyone’s passions and desires? 

But the choice between doctrinal conviction and love is always a false one. Jesus made his views clear, but he did not mock or abuse the woman caught in adultery. He simply said, “Go your way, and sin no more.”

It is also easy to understand the pressure faced by sincere Christians. 

Isn’t Christianity defined by love of neighbor and ministry to outcasts?  How can we possibly stand in the way of love or be the ones casting out? And what if my closest family and friends see things differently? 

But the choice between doctrinal conviction and love is always a false one. Jesus made his views clear, but he did not mock or abuse the woman caught in adultery. He simply said, “Go your way, and sin no more.”

Neither did he refuse to engage the Samaritan woman, fully aware of her complicated past. Instead, he offered living water. In neither case did Jesus overlook their sin or their dignity. His kindness toward the Samaritan did not mean approval. His mercy for the adulteress did not signal compromise.

Never was Jesus’ love and desire to minister contingent on anyone’s agreement with his views. But neither was he afraid to label sin as sin. 

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Still, Jesus was a “friend of sinners.” He sincerely loved people, even those with whom he disagreed. Jesus’ harshest words were aimed not at people honestly struggling with temptation or sin but with leaders who used Scripture to justify themselves and distort God’s purpose.

If we ever hold doctrinal convictions in ways that give anyone reason to doubt our love and willingness to minister, we are doing it wrong. And if we ever compromise our convictions to be accepted, then we have failed just the same. 

God created us male and female. He designed marriage as the place for men and women to help each other reflect his image throughout creation in a unique and special way. 

Salvation rests in the mystery of oneness reflected in every godly marriage: the oneness of Christ with his church, and the ultimate union between heaven and earth. As culture shifts around us, we remain committed to the design of marriage “from the beginning” and the story it continues to tell. — Jeremie Beller, for the Editorial Board

WANT TO RESPOND to this editorial? Email [email protected]. Be sure to include your full name and home city and state. Watch The Christian Chronicle’s live discussion of this editorial and related news coverage at 4 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Central on Monday, Aug. 2.

Filed under: biblical vision for sexuality culture Editorial gender Marriage Opinion same-sex marriage society Top Stories

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