It looks like either through Supreme Court fiat or through state legislatures and/or propositions, “same-sex marriage” will likely be the law of the land soon. Christians and moral conservatives have spent immense time, energy, and money trying to keep this from happening, apparently to no effect. There are deep divides in culture over this issue and it’s worth asking, what’s at stake? Why does this issue matter so much?
My own take is that this is nothing less than the public battle over God.
When same-sex “marriage” is discussed generally, the arguments for it are what I would call horizontal—they have to do with relationships we have with each other, horizontally, person-to-person. From the horizontal vantage point, someone asks why I care if two males or two females gain marital status in public parlance and the legal system. This is the “consenting-adults-who-do-no-harm” argument. That is, if two, or more, adults choose to act a certain way, if it doesn’t cause demonstrable and immediate harm, why do I care what they do? Am I not just inserting my values horizontally on them? This horizontal-only view fails to recognize, or willfully ignores, the fact that there is a vertical dimension to this issue as well.
The biblical account of human origin says that God created us in His own image (1). Further, the biblical account explains that both male and female, together, make up this image. Adam might be called “man,” but his completion was brought about through Eve, his essential counterpart. Adam and Eve, male and female, represented the image of God corporately. Adam bore God’s image individually, but it was not until Eve was on the scene that God said of His image on Earth that it was “very good.”
It is ultimately both male and female corporately that represent God’s image in our humanity. To attempt to reduce the image of God to all male or all female, as in same-sex “marriage,” is in fact to attempt to redefine God, or at least our public articulation of Him. We attempt to remake God when we remake His image as it’s reflected in marriage. We attempt to redefine God when we attempt to redefine marriage. (None of this is to say that God in fact changes, any more than applying makeup to a mirror changes the features of the person holding that mirror.)
Moral relativists wonder why Christians should care so much whether same-sex “marriage” is legal and the law of the land or not. What relativists fail to grasp, or refuse to admit, is that the elevation of same-sex “marriage” to accepted legal/cultural status is not just the elevation of another point of view, but the elevation of another worldview, another philosophy of life, another religion, and another god.
The new god being advanced through same-sex “marriage” may be no god—atheism—or a maybe god—agnosticism. Or it may be any/many gods—pantheism. From whatever background the argument is made for same-sex “marriage,” there is a common thread, and it is this: the god of the nation that recognizes same-sex “marriage” is not the God of the Bible, or the God this nation has pledged allegiance to, or the God worshipped and prayed to by our founders and subsequent generations. Same-sex “marriage” is a watershed issue because it so clearly requires choosing our corporate/national god.
The divide over this issue can be no less tearing and disruptive than the divides in ancient Israel over the same issue—which god was God? Israel was forever being challenged as to whom they would serve; to which god would they bow? Their choices were many, as the surrounding nations gave evidence: their options included multitudes of gods from Egypt, also Chemosh, Baal, and Milcom among others. The worship of these alternative gods included late night reveling, drunkenness, immorality in heterosexual and homosexual trysts, and the sacrifice of their own children. Sound familiar? It’s important to note that the alternative gods to YHWH always reflected the worst of our fallen humanity—capriciousness, blood lust, pettiness, and faithlessness.
Israel’s great post-Exodus leader Joshua told the nation in his waning days to choose which or what god(s) they would follow, but that he and his household would follow the Lord/YHWH (2). We find ourselves in a very similar situation today. Which or what god/God will the United States follow? Who or what will be our national god?
The stakes are high—I would argue, incalculable. For while the nation whose God is the Lord is blessed (3), as the United States certainly has been, the nation that rejects the God in whose image we are made should count on no such blessing.
1. Genesis 1-2
2. Joshua 24
3. Psalm 33:12
For other thoughts on this issue see Al Mohler’s blog (http://www.albertmohler.com ).