Obama, the Bible, and Same Sex Marriage

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Christians and Culture
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It is impossible to turn on the news today or go to the internet without being confronted by the news of President Obama’s statement that he supports the right of same-sex couples to get married. While I can certainly appreciate his compassionate heart for people who feel they are unfairly being denied the possibility of a marriage to their same-sex partner, and I can even affirm that I believe the President to be my brother in Christ, I have to disagree with his position on clear biblical grounds.

At the heart of the issue is this, who determines what a marriage is and who can get married and who cannot? In the last 200 years or so, governments have played an increasingly large role in that decision and the religious community has played a smaller and smaller role. But for the entire period of human history prior, that was not the case. Prior to that time, certainly in western civilization, it has been the church, and I mean that in the broadest terms, that has defined marriage and informed the government on what is and is not a marriage. Clearly the tables have been turned. Now instead of the faith communities informing society and the government on what is and is not marriage, it is western philosophical, post-enlightenment philosophy that shapes the our understanding of marriage. We have gone from marriage being a sacred union between man and woman, to being a contractually based relationship between two people who want certain benefits of accorded such couples by the government and society. That is founded on faith in philosophy not faith in God.

But where does the church get its understanding of marriage? On what basis does it take a stand. Let me be clear about one thing. This is not a blog dealing primarily with homosexuality. That is only secondarily the issue here. What I am talking about is marriage and its roots. In the Christian community we look to the Bible as our revealed source of God’s truth. That is a given. You can debate the wisdom of that all you want but the fact is, the Bible is what Christians hold to as their depository of God’s will and wisdom. I say that as strongly as I do, so that it becomes clear, if you want to affirm same-sex marriage you are doing so with full knowledge that the Bible teaches otherwise. That may not matter to you, but it matters to millions of Christians in America and a billion world-wide. First let’s be clear on what the Bible does not say. The Bible does not say “same-sex marriages are sinful”. You won’t find those words. Why? Because rather than take a negative approach full of “thou shalt nots”, the Bible takes a positive approach and holds up the ideal that we are to strive for. The positive teaching of the Bible on marriage is that it is designed by God to be between a man and a woman. That teaching is so clear and so taken for granted that there were no same-sex marriages and thus no need to say anything against them. That doesn’t mean there was no homosexual behavior. There was. But same-sex marriage was unheard of so there was no need to speak against it. Rather the Bible says what marriage is, why it is and who is eligible for marriage.

To understand what the Bible teaches, we have to start with Genesis 2 and the account of the creation of man and woman.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:18-24

It doesn’t matter whether you think this actually happened as a literal event or that it is somehow a myth handed down to make a point. For Christians, and incidentally, Jews AND Muslims, this is something revealed to us by God to teach us about our origins, purpose, and destiny. As it speaks about marriage it is crystal clear that God made it to be a union between a man and a woman and that it has spiritual significance. They are somehow joined together as one. They are not just two people signing a contract detailing how they will share property rights or designating who can visit them in the hospital or any other such important issues. Those are the issues of the contractual understanding of marriage in the post-enlightenment west. The Bible is saying there is more, there is a binding together of man and woman in marriage that is instituted and blessed by God.

Some will say that the Genesis passage is Old Testament and therefore culturally irrelevant. For that reason it also needs to be recognized that Jesus affirmed this teaching in the clearest possible ways.  In Matthew 19 he repeats and expands on the teaching from Genesis 2 as a way of affirming the sanctity of marriage and the exclusive nature of the relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus does not deal with this as a cultural issue but rather as an issue of theological truth that is founded in the very character of God. When Paul writes to the Corinthians he also affirms that there is a spiritual component to the physical relationship that is supposed to be reserved for husband and wife. A biblical understanding of marriage must include the recognition that it is more than two people agreeing to live together and be partners in some domestic limited partnership. There is a third-party involved. The Bible says that God joins together a man and woman in marriage. That is why it is primarily a spiritual and not a civil matter.

In making any decisions about our view of marriage we must, or at least confessing Christians must, look to what the Bible says about marriage and seek to understand it and implement it as best we can. Some people may come to a different interpretation of what the BIble teaches. I understand that and can work with that. At least from there we can discuss the meaning of the passage and its application based on mutually agreed methods of literary interpretation. What we cannot do is simply ignore what the Bible says because we are trying to be compassionate, modern, or even fair.

What are the concerns in all this? Some who support same-sex marriage might simply say, “why don’t you just live your way and let them live their way?” That sounds so nice and reasonable and fair. But here is the problem. Because government now has the primary role in determining who can get married and what a legitimate marriage is, they also have the power to determine who can perform such marriages and who cannot. Given the nature of government to spread its power and authority rather than limit it, as an evangelical pastor I have a legitimate concern that the day may soon come when the government says, in order to have the authority to perform any wedding, I must be willing to perform all weddings, same-sex or not. You think that is far-fetched? Think the government would never do such a thing? Look at recent history. Religious hospitals are being faced with regulations requiring them to perform medical procedures they find to be immoral. Religious schools and other institutions are being faced with the possibility of being required to provide insurance coverage for those same procedures. Clearly the government has shown a willingness to ignore the conscience of people of faith and require them to do things that violate their religious beliefs. How ironic is that, when one of the foundational principles of our culture today is to respect the beliefs of others and not force anyone to adhere to your beliefs. It seems that only flows one way.

Let me make one final point. I place the blame for where we are, squarely on the shoulders of Christians and the Church, though probably not for the reasons you may think. It is not because we have failed to oppose such culture shifts vehemently enough with protests and indignation. Rather, it is because we have failed to teach and uphold the positive Biblical ideals on marriage, sex, and human relationships. Far too much of our teaching and preaching is moralistic do’s and dont’s without any solid foundation based on the character of God. Such moralism quickly gives way to what is expedient, easiest, or “most reasonable”. In other cases our teaching too closely represents the latest self-help steps to a better marriage or relationship. It is teaching, full of practical tips, void of Biblical power. We need to get back to a Biblical understand of the purpose of marriage, the oneness between man, woman, and God that is the glue that holds the marriage together. We need to be captured by the holy mystery of man and woman becoming one, and that being more than sexual intimacy but a binding of soul on soul that is for the benefit of society and the glory of God. Let’s live out the glory of a Biblical marriage that makes it so attractive and compelling that people would yearn for that ideal and accept no substitute for the blessings God has for them.

 

Comments
  1. adamlovepi says:

    It is scary to think that government could attempt to regulate the sacred rite of marriage in a church, but you make a good point, and that is exactly what could happen. Sadly, self-interest is becoming the only sacred thing, and it is winning in government. It is a religion in itself.

    I agree and am challenged to consider the wonder of marriage and how God himself reveres the relationship between man and woman in marriage. Not only is it a metaphor for God’s relationship with us, it is a beautiful thing unto itself, full of challenges and opportunities.

    More awe, that is what is needed.

    I also wonder whether the Church will need to one day recognize marriage separately from the government institution, in order to make a distinction between what is sacred and what is IRS-friendly (heehee). I see the distinction as a possible solution to the dilution of what marriage is becoming in the U.S.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Dan Lacich says:

    Adam, your point about the church eventually recognizing marriage separately from the government is not far fetched. In some cases it exists now. For instance, in the Roman Catholic Church there are cases in which the government says a person is divorced and yet the church says, no, we do not recognize the right of the government to declare that marriage ended. It still exists in the eyes of the church. Granted this has caused no small amount of pain and hardship for people but the principle you state does exist in a certain form already.

  3. adamlovepi says:

    Yes, I think that tradition in the Catholic Church dates back to Henry VIII. : )

  4. Dan Lacich says:

    Adam, it actually goes back much further but Henry certainly brought it into the limelight. The Roman Catholics are not the only ones to hold such a postion. The Amish do not recognize divorce on any level so I suspect that no matter what the state might say, the would consider a person married.

  5. Debby Wood says:

    Amen. Marriage is an institute sanctified by God Himself between a man and a woman. If 2 people of the same sex want to have some kind of union..fill their boots..free country.but you can’t call it marriage because it isn’t how marriage is defined according to the One who invented it. I wouldn’t want the government making a law that Americans can’t marry Canadians either…!

  6. AMB says:

    In The Netherlands (and I am sure other countries), the government can ALREADY tell you who can and can’t perform weddings. They can also tell you WHERE you can hold a wedding. — it’s not long in coming to America

  7. I was hoping you would tackle this one, and you didn’t disappoint!

  8. Kyle Mattingly says:

    Topics like this require conversations and it’s hard to sum up the nuances of belief and how to live life in a soundbite…but let me try. 🙂

    First, I believe marriage to be an earthly representation between a man and woman of our relationship with God, a mystical union far exceeding what we can humanly describe. Furthermore, I think that this is a biblical definition and the church should never stray from this idea. However, I believe our government views marriage as an amoral contractual agreement between people affording them certain rights. It makes sense to me that if our country was founded on equality and the freedom of religion (not on the law of our God), then all people should be afforded equal rights. Our country’s origins were highly influenced by Christian beliefs and I think that’s why many of us get tempted into thinking that our government should maintain those beliefs because they are dear to us. I don’t think so. Our government exists to maintain justice, liberty and provide for the common defense. We as Christians are the ones who should hold high the moral standards of God’s word – in love.

    So I think it’s time for the government to do what it needs to do and for Christians to truly maintain the sanctity of marriage, perhaps primarily by creating beautiful examples of marriages that resemble God. It’s true that this is a slippery slope which might lead to the government trying to tell the church what it can or can’t do in regards to marriage. But really, in all of history, when has the Christian faith ever suffered by being different from the government? If we have to take a stand for our beliefs, that might even be a good thing. Furthermore, I think we should stop being scared of what the government can do and realize that we hold truth. Regardless of what the government does, we can always provide people with examples of Gods love in marriage. I don’t care who you are – straight, gay, whatever – people want and need that love. Let’s spend some more time giving people God’s love!

  9. transparentfire says:

    So, you do a William Wallace (Braveheart) style wedding with some close family members, and then if you want the tax benefits and other aspects that marriage grants in a society, you go to the justice of the peace and get married.

    If we want to get specific on what the Bible calls for, I would say that a marriage should be where both parties who are to get married are first pursuing Christ. Out of that pursuit they have been brought together and desire to love each other as Christ as loved them. If this was our requirement for marriage, it would exclude many more people than homosexuals.

    I still don’t see why, as evangelicals, we have to die on this hill. The early church did not change society through legislation. They changed it through love.

  10. Sandra says:

    Oh, this is so very awesome! Thank-You:)

  11. Sandra says:

    Just one question? We the people are the government, who has more authority: the Church or the government and who is the Church?

  12. Cristal says:

    Very wonderfully written to draw attention to the heart of the matter. A friend of mine (who travels into communist countries to share the Word) recently reminded me that at least over there they don’t expect to be free. We think we have freedoms here; but we are often blind to the increasing power of our government.

  13. Dan Lacich says:

    Kyle,

    Completely and strongly agree with your first and second paragraphs. I also agree with the last paragraph that we need not fear the government or what it can do and that we set the example of what a marriage is all about. There is a further point as to why we should even address these issues and that is because we as the church also have a prophetic role towards the government in which we are to call it to righteousness and justice. Sometimes that means calling for the government to have laws that promote righteousness and justice as well as things that are moral. The hard part is deciding what those things are.
    Dan

  14. Dan Lacich says:

    Mark,
    The William Wallace route is always an option.

    As to who can get married, there have been times when I have refused to do a wedding because one party had a clear confession of faith in Christ and the other did not. By that I don’t mean they could not articulate it clearly, I mean that clearly said they were not a Christian. In one case a woman told me of when and how she gave her life to Christ and her fiance told about why he was a Buddhist. Sorry, just couldn’t do that one.

    As to dying on this hill, don’t think we need to die on it, but we do need to at least plant our flag and say what we thing the truth is. I completely agree that the early church changed the world by living out the Gospel and loving people to Christ. I think a reason we fall short of that today, among others, is that we are afraid to even plant our flag on the hill of salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. We do have have a general passion for lost people these days, in part because it is not nice to say some people are lost and in part because way too many Christians have not been discipled into a deep and fervent relationship with Jesus.
    Dan

  15. sisinjc says:

    P. Dan, what are the “certain benefits accorded such couples by the government and society”? Are we referring to health insurance, income tax write-offs, shared bank accounts, etc.? Are there more benefits I’m missing…?

    I totally agree that marriage is a sacred union, and as Adam wrote above “the metaphor for God’s relationship with us”. Sadly, it has been belittled by the same government and society that continues attempts to define it – under coercion(?). I do not fit into either category (not a homosexual and not married) so I don’t understand what the “additional” governmental benefits are, thus not understanding the fight for “more rights” argument, but I certainly appreciate true marriage in God’s eyes. If the argument is really just about benefits, it seems a general label like “Domestic partner” could be used for the purpose of obtaining those “marriage-specific” benefits. They can go through the same process of “applying for this status” and paying the government for the right to add the domestic partner. Unfortunately, it appears only some health insurance companies recongized this status. I’m not aware of any others, but I’m also not concerned about such a benefit.

    This controversial discussion though makes me think that if a same-sex marriage allows income tax and health insurance benefits, then as a single person, shouldn’t I be able to add my dog as an income tax dependent and health insurance recipient since he is my “son”? I mean, after all, I feed and groom him, pay for his accessories, and take him out to the government-doggie parks where he freely chases squirrels. Who’s responsible for his medical bills if he got hurt?!? I might just need the income tax right off to help me pay the bill! 😉 [j/k, of course!]

    EXCELLENT, as always…
    ~Tammy

  16. Dan Lacich says:

    Tammy
    Part of the early argument for same-sex marriage was the couples in monogamous same-sex relationships and living as spouses would, could not collect social security survivor benefits, or inherit property without paying taxes, or be listed as beneficiaries on medical coverage, in some cases even visit in the hospital when it was limited to immediate family members. In some cases the domestic partner designation covers these concerns but not all.

    Dan

  17. Anonymous says:

    Dan, you try to depict marriage as some sanctified agreement between a man, woman, and God. However, any cursory look into the Bible or any point in world history will tell you this is simply not true. Marriage is, and always has been, first and foremost a SOCIAL institution. For a long time marriage was neither a religious or state matter… it was a civil matter. You talk about how one is meant to become a “radical” Christian and get at the “root” of what it means to be Christian. What could be more of a root than the ancient Israelites? Marriage functioned as a means to establish one’s family in a community and to pass on property and a man’s name. Even in ancient Israel women were bought, often in their early teens, and moved in with their new family. The two families, then, were united through this marriage. It has been used in this way as a means for power and a way to advance one’s bloodline and one’s familial status within a community.Is this the marriage Christians want so much to preserve?

    Your romanticized view that marriage is two people coming together in a relationship with God is a relatively new concept (relatively, since marriage has been around for as long as people have). It wasn’t until the Catholic Church became so powerful that marriage was thought in the way you describe. But even then, the Protestant Reformation rejected this idea. Martin Luther himself said marriage is a “worldly thing… that belongs to the realm of the government”. English Puritans passed an act of parliament in the 17th century that established marriage as a entirely secular matter. The Restoration changed this, however the Puritans brought this secular understanding in their immigration to America.

    So I think you have a serious lack of knowledge of marriage’s history if you think it is at all Christian. In every corner of the world, even those who have never heard of Christianity, there is something like marriage in their culture. Your theory that marriage is between a man, woman, and the Christian God seems to presuppose that Christianity invented it and should have the sole voice in who gets married and who does not. I also think your argument presupposes that there is no separation between church and state. It would be naive to believe that the Church alone marries people. If having the Church marry you and your spouse was enough, why would you want or need to go and get validation from the state? Besides the economic benefits, is the idea that you two are united in Christ not enough?

    I would like you to answer the following questions: who marries people- the Church or the state? Would you say a couple is officially married when they say their vows in a church or when they go and file for it with the state? If the previous answer falls with the Church, would you consider people who do not get married in a church with an ordained minister present (who brings God into the equation) to not really be married?

    Would you deny people of other faiths to get married since you believe it such a sacred, Christian institution? How about those who believe there is no God?

    What you must understand, here, is that marriage is a social institution. Religions have their own take on it which is fine. The Church can deny gays to be married in their church all they want, but since marriage has always been much more than any religious determination, religious folk should not have any say in secular matters.

    What I’m trying to get you to realize is that your idea of Christianity as being the end all be all of marriage is incredibly naive. I’m sure you’ll respond and say, I don’t go by what society says but by what the Bible says. To this I would say it doesn’t matter what the Bible says. Marriage is the oldest institution on earth- present before the Bible was written or any recorded history for that matter- and to try to act like Christians should have the only voice in how it should be run is, like I said, naive.

    And your belief that secular marriage is a product of a faith in philosophy is entirely inaccurate and frankly, ignorant. But I’ve already typed too much.

  18. sheryl Harp says:

    Dan, Wonderfully written. Anonymous, You obviously need prayer.

  19. Excellent post. My husband is an Anglican bishop and posted about the same thing. We hit every point you are writing about in our conversation today. His blog is episcoblog.com

  20. http://episcoblog.holycatholicanglican.org/ sorry, this is my husbands blog. As I said he blogged about this same topic.

  21. Mark says:

    Dan,

    Thank you for the reply. I am glad that you held to conviction not to marry the couple you mentioned. I believe that you should have the right to do that. Even if the government takes away your right to legally marry people, I would think that you could still “marry” before God in a ceremony that does not officially marry someone in the government’s eyes. Although I am currently wrestling with where in the New Testament it says that a clergyman has to marry couples, I do not deny the right for those couples that would like to be married before clergy. I was.

    However, should the law then go so far to say that those that are not professing Christians not have the ability to be married? The government does not require you to marry two atheists at this point even though they can legally do so before the justice of the peace.

    In my opinion, we are dying on this hill. Sure the government has not imprisoned us for our belief that homosexuality is a sin. In my mind that is not dying. In my opinion, dying is failing to give a credible testimony of the Gospel to the world in need. People do not care what you have to say until they know that you care. Can we honestly say that evangelicals have shown that they care for homosexuals. Instead, evangelicals pour millions of dollars into legislation against them. Biblically, I do not see where we are called to “plant a flag” outside of the context of a relationship. We DO NOT have the right to be right without being redemptive.

    While his tone shows some hostility, I think anonymous makes some valid points. I am frankly tired of Christians responding to those who wish to debate us with phrases like “you obviously need prayer.” That is incredibly condescending, and does nothing to draw that person closer to Christ. It is basically taking a pious stance of “I am right, and you are wrong” without taking the time to dialogue about their ideas.

    Dan, based off of other things that you have written, I do know that you see the importance of loving those around us. My comments about how evangelicals are perceived are not directed towards you personally, but to “us” in general. I know that sometimes tone is difficult to interpret when reading responses. I say all of this in a tone of healthy debate, and a willingness to entertain different points of view.

    Grace and Peace,

    Mark

  22. Dan Lacich says:

    Dear Anonomous1,

    Do I try and depict marriage as a sanctified agreement between man, woman, and God? Absolutely! Guilty as charged. You say that any cursory reading of the Bible would show that to be false. If that is true, what do you make of the very clear statement of Jesus regarding marriage and divorce when he says, “What God has joined together, let no man tear apart”? A cursory reading of that seems very clear that Jesus viewed marriage as a sanctified agreement between a man, a woman, and God.

    As to your statement that marriage is always, first and foremost a social institution I would point out the following.
    Throughout history marriage has been viewed as having several facets. At various times and places different groups and eras emphasized one or more of those facets over others. Those facets are 1) Spiritual, 2) Social, 3) Contractual, 4) Natural. Within the Christian tradition all four have been recognized as applicable but not of equal weight. In western civilization there have been 5 models imerge that have sought to recognize multiple facets of marriage yet with an emphasis on one or more without excluding the others. For the Roman Catholic the emphasis is on a sacramental model yet without eliminating other aspects. Luther as you point out emphasized the social aspect, but not to the exclusion of others as you want to imply. Luther never abdicated an understanding of marriage to the state. He said it was part of the earthly realm but the the church was to instruct and advise the state on how to view marriage because it has an ideal in the heavenly realm. Calvin and the Reformed and Presbyterians emphasize a Covenantal model wich like the Catholic is also in the Spiritual facet. Anglicans have emphasized what is called a commonwealth model which sought to balance the sacramental, social, and covenant models. Finally there is the enlightenment model which has given increased emphasis and even ultimate priority to the contractual model. It is my contention that we are loosing the other perspectives and that a contractual model is the growing model of marriage and the philosophical underpinnings of arguments for same-sex marriage. The fact that so much of the rational for same-sex marriage has to do with issues of property rights, visitation, insurance, social security benefits etc should be clear evidence that for many this is a contract/rights issue. That does not mean there are not social concerns for those who argue for same sex marriage, there certainly are. But in the process the spiritual and even naturalistic considerations are being pushed aside. I am simply attempting to being them back into the discussion. BTW you may want to expand your research into the history of marriage beyond Hirschfelds statements on Luther and the Puritans in the archive for sexology. It is rather incomplete. Might I suggest instead that you read something a bit more scholarly and comprehensive. Try White’s “From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition”.

    You state that my serious lack of knowledge in believing that marriage is at all Christian and that Christianity invented marriage would invalidate all other marriages around the world. First I do not think that Christianity invented marriage. My basic text for the blog was from Genesis, written a couple thousand years before Christianity. I don’t even think Judaism invented marriage. My point was that God invented marriage. That holds true no matter what time and culture you live in. The fact that there is a naturalist view of marriage that understands the universal scope of marriage through out time and cultures, would in my opinion, point to the fact the behind the ubiquitous nature of marriage is a God who made it part of human existence. As such, God has certain ideals for how it should function. Certainly that includes social, contractual AND spiritual components.

    Your questions about the validity of marriages performed only by an ordained minister or only by the state or another religions are important and relevant questions. However they arise out of your misunderstanding, thinking that I only view Christian marriage performed by an ordained minister as being valid. That is far from the truth. Because there is the intersecting of the social, spiritual, contractual, and natural facets of marriage, a marriage performed purely as a secular contract, authorized by the state is in fact a valid marriage. You should know that even within the USA there are states that do not require marriage licenses because in some cases there is a recognition of the religious ceremony taking precedence over the states authority. So it is not as cut and dried as you would imply. I would agree that a marriage performed by a minister of a religion, without official state sanction would also be a valid marriage. Why can I say that? Because again, marriage was instituted by God and not man and my God is big enough to validate both the religious and secular customs and multiple religions. Laws on the books in the USA acknowledge that as an important point of conscience.

    Finally, I don’t think you typed too much. This is not a topic that can easily be covered in a tweet of 140 characters or even a blog post of 1400 words as mine was. In fact I would say that you did not type enough, specifically meaning your name. I generally try not to respond to anonymous comments as I think dialogue should happen on as personal and collegial a level as possible. I am not sure why you chose to be anonymous. I would not do you the diservice of judging your character, ignorance, or naiveté as you have chosen to do towards me. I have responded however because I think it is important to have this discussion even when we disagree and I think it is important for people who read this to see multiple perspectives and then make their decision accordingly.
    Sincerely,
    Dan

  23. Dan Lacich says:

    Thanks Holly, I have read your husbands blogs in the past and look forward to reading it on this subject.

  24. Dan Lacich says:

    Thanks Cristal, you are right in pointing out that we are so often limited by our immediate circumstances and forget that there is a very different world out there. I am comforted and challenged by the fact that we worship a God who is big enough to cover it all.

  25. Dan Lacich says:

    Sandra,

    You raise a great political science question. Ultimately in the USA it is the people who, in theory, hold the power of government. I am not so sure the current climate allows that to happen easily. The church and state have always had a relationship that is more of a dance than a cut and dried hierarchy. The state has certain powers, that even Romans 13 would speak to. The church also has certain responsibilities, one of which is to speak with a prophetic voice to the government. Another would be to engage in the process of government as Daniel and others did in the Bible, even when that government is not sympathetic to faith.
    As to who is the church, we it is all those who have been called by God into a relationship with Jesus. Ekklesia is the Greek word we translate as church and it simply means, the called ones. What confuses the issue is that we have organizations we call churches and building we call churches. But ultimately the church is all God’s people.

  26. Dan Lacich says:

    Mark,

    You won’t find anything in the Bible saying who performs a wedding and how it is performed. I believe it is one of those areas that God has left open to us to fit within our culture customs and expectations.

    As to some of your other questions, read my reply to anonomous1. I think you will find some of my answers there. I agree that we have not love our neighbor as we should and that is a major motivating factor behind this blog, loving God with all we are and our neighbor as ourselves. Of course that does not mean we always agree with our neighbor, but we never need to be disagreeable.

    For me the reason this is a huge topic is not the topic itself but that behind it there is a lack of understanding, especially among Christians as to what the Bible says. So many people have harsh knee-jerk reactions without the foundation of biblical truth and they end up not, speaking the truth in love, but speaking half truth in fear. We Christians are often our own worst enemy when it comes to presenting what a life with Jesus and lived under that Gospel of grace is all about.

    I look forward to hearing more from you and continuing the dialogue on this and many other topics.

    Dan

  27. Sandra says:

    Wow! Thanks for your reply. I thought your answer was terrific and I really appreciate your web-sight. However, the Obama, gay marriage thing, is just a huge distraction to take the focus off of God in my opinion. I was also not trying to be a political scientist, its just, sometimes it is hard to distinguish the people of God from the government. I also love Romans 13, I also like Romans 2 which, when most people talk about homosexuality, and is not a word in the Bible, neglect to read what follows Romans 1, and I think Romans 2 is just has important to heed as Romans 1. Just a hunch but talking about 1 without talking about 2, sounds to me like a whole lot of judgement, on those people who, may have never even heard of Jesus or the Bible. I have actually met people who have never heard of Jesus.

  28. Dan Lacich says:

    Sandra,
    You are right in that the gay-marriage issue, like so many hopt topics, ends up distracting us from the task of declaring the Gospel. We so easily get caught up in fighting culture wars when in fact we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but have a real spiritual battle on our hands that is far more about salvation than about any particular sin-du-jour.
    On the Romans passage, I always say, context, context, context. You have to read the Bible as it was meant to be. That means Romans 2 has to be read in order to understand Romans 1 properly.
    The good thing about meeting people who have never heard of Jesus means you don’t have to help them unlearn all the wrong stuff they believe about Him. 🙂
    Blessings to you
    Dan

  29. Sandra says:

    Thanks I love reading my Bible. however, I confess I am not very consistent. When I have questions I search the scriptures. My favorite is the MacArthur Study Bible, only because I sat under his teaching in 1985 for a school year. The one thing I have learned is that we do not all read the same study Bibles. When I studied at, “The Master’s College, I studied, The Ryrie (sp) Study Bible. I also do not claimed to know and understand everything. However, there are some benefits to listening and reading and studying verse by verse. Scripture said the same thing then, footnotes have evolved a little bit.

  30. Sandra says:

    Also, some people just do not want to get married.

  31. 2centseach says:

    Your blog post is full of wisdom. Thank you for this good post!

  32. Irene O. says:

    I come away from this insightful and thought-provoking post with the following nuggets:

    “Let’s live out the glory of a Biblical marriage that makes it so attractive and compelling that people would yearn for that ideal and accept no substitute for the blessings God has for them.”
    and
    “it is time for Christians to truly maintain the sanctity of marriage, perhaps primarily by creating beautiful examples of marriages that resemble God.” (Kyle)

    This is what we must endeavour to do as Christians.

  33. The Aardvark says:

    Thanks and Amen!

  34. nikolangelo says:

    http://nikolangelo.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/christian-millionaire-and-advocate-for-homosexuality/
    LET EXPOSE THE FALSE PROPHET, JOEL OSTEEN! I HAVE BEEN BLOCKED SEVERAL TIMES CAUSE THIS MAN DIDNT WANT ME TO SPREAD THE TRUTH ! HE DOES NOT WANT US TO SPEAK! HE NEEDS TO BE EXPOSED !

  35. Dan Lacich says:

    Dear Monique,

    I am not sure where you have been blocked. Has it been from posting a comment on this site? If so I would suspect it is because you may have included more than one link in your post.
    Dan

  36. Lee says:

    “Dan, you try to depict marriage as some sanctified agreement between a man, woman, and God. However, any cursory look into the Bible or any point in world history will tell you this is simply not true. Marriage is, and always has been, first and foremost a SOCIAL institution. For a long time marriage was neither a religious or state matter… it was a civil matter. You talk about how one is meant to become a “radical” Christian and get at the “root” of what it means to be Christian. What could be more of a root than the ancient Israelites? Marriage functioned as a means to establish one’s family in a community and to pass on property and a man’s name. Even in ancient Israel women were bought, often in their early teens, and moved in with their new family. The two families, then, were united through this marriage. It has been used in this way as a means for power and a way to advance one’s bloodline and one’s familial status within a community.Is this the marriage Christians want so much to preserve?”

    Thank you for this sane answer.

    “My basic text for the blog was from Genesis, written a couple thousand years before Christianity.”

    Dan – you know very well Genesis was not written thousands of years before Christianity. Good Grief. Please. I also went to a Dominican Catholic College and know that you know that just isn’t true.

    Marriage has been a social contract meant to establish a family, pass on property, and a mans name. Women were chatel – bought, sold, traded, and married off with and without their consent. Nothing godly about it. It still happens in the world today. In the US women could not own property until 1787 and only in one state and not if they were single. Of course they wanted to marry under those circumstances – what else could they do when there were no other options. Women in this country did not work outside the home until the 19th century. Your romanticized view of marriage is naive at best and untrue in fact.

  37. Dan Lacich says:

    Lee,
    You quoted from Anonymous’ comment on this topic and thank him for his sane answer. I suggest you read my follow-up to him. That quote is cut and pasted from an online source on sexology and has very little basis in historical research, including taking the Luther quote out of context. In my answer to him I offer a further explanation of the multi-faceted nature of marriage and stick to taking the didactic portions of scripture that teach about the ideal of what a marriage should be as the basis for a theology of marriage. The classic mistake Anonymous made was to take the narrative passages of scripture that tell us what people did and make that the standard. Genesis 1 and 2, as well as Jesus teaching on marriage and Paul’s depiction of it as a model of the love Jesus has for the church are the places that should guide our understanding of God’s intent for marriage. That is neither romanticized nor untrue.

    The point still stands that the Bible clearly teaches that marriage is intended by God to be between one man and one woman. That is the core issue when it comes to same sex marriage. Even if I have some overly-romanticized and naive view of marriage, that does not take away from the clear teaching on marriage in the Bible.

    As to knowing very well that Genesis was not written thousands of years before Christianity, okay I will be more precise, 13 to 15 hundred years before Christianity would be the writing of it with the oral tradition going back 2000 years or more before Christianity.

    Dan

  38. jeannie says:

    Dan I must disagree with you on one specific point . It
    most definitely explicitly says that for a man to lay with another
    man as one lays with a woman is an abomination in the sight of God.
    I find it hard to believe that two men or women for that matter
    would vie for the privilege to “marry” without having already
    committed said sin.

  39. Dan Lacich says:

    Jeannie,
    I am not sure what point you are disagreeing with. I agree with you concerning the sinful nature of both sex outside marriage and of sex between people of the same gender and that the Bible is clear on that. Can you help me understand what I said that you disagree with?
    Thanks
    Dan

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