It has long been held throughout the entire epoch of mankind, that marriage and family necessarily include a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman – wherever the institution of marriage was practiced. Marriage is usually recognized as permanent and bound by a social contract honored by the society and culture. One definition begins as follows:
“Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal.” – From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage)
It is fair to say that the definition of marriage in western society and principally in The United States of America relies on traditions, customs and practices drawn from scripture, or the Word of God. This rich history dates from passages written through divine inspiration, codified and canonized in The Bible. This includes the Pentateuch or Mosaic Law, (Genesis 2:22-24) the New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:4-6) and the epistles – particularly from the Apostle Paul. God considers marriage to be a sacred contract or covenant and so marriage has enjoyed respect, honor and lawful protection since the very foundation of this nation, which was founded by Christians and indeed, for centuries of western culture for millennia before then.
How then is it that marriage should be at the center of controversy and critical attack in recent times? Why has traditional marriage in particular become the target of wholesale change?
The simple answer for practicing Christians (and Jewish orthodoxy) is literally a matter of spiritual warfare. For people who view the world through the prism of Secularism, Humanism, and any manner of socio-political centered world-views, marriage is a large impediment to the advancement of beliefs that do not and cannot include God and His laws.
If the institution of marriage is so divisive and subject to such militant revision, wouldn’t Christians be better off just remaining quiet and compliant, knowing that individually, marriage is a matter of personal conscience and privately held beliefs? The answer is equally simple:
No. We should not.
There are several reasons for affirming and defending marriage and in particular traditional marriage as has been practiced for centuries: “…a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman.”
Firstly, this definition is what God intended and He considered marriage to be sacred and a covenant. (Malachi 2:14) . We know that with God a covenant cannot be broken. (Proverbs 6:20-29) When we marry in the Christian tradition we are making a covenant with our spouse and before God who has ordained the marriage act. For those who understand this, the marriage is considered sacred and not easily dissolved. We then by our very commitment to marriage, serve as a witness to the relationship with our spouse, our children and with God. In other words, we set an example to others that we are better able to remain faithful and loving.
Secondly, the principal beneficiaries of a sacred marriage covenant are our children. Having children has long been considered a principal benefit and a purpose in marriage. Most societies so prize this benefit, that children become a measure of a man’s legacy. From a Biblical perspective this is certainly true. (Psalm 127:5) But regardless of whether our own marriage produces children or not, children born into a stable environment that includes a loving, committed marriage are clearly at an advantage.
Recently, Anthony Daniels a medical doctor and psychiatrist from London, England delivered a speech to Hillsdale College and in it; he describes the living conditions of the poor and underprivileged living on entitlements:
“In the course of my duties, I would often go to patients’ homes. Everyone lived in households with a shifting cast of members, rather than in families. If there was an adult male resident, he was generally a bird of passage with a residence of his own somewhere else. He came and went as his fancy took him. To ask a child who his father was had become an almost indelicate question. Sometimes the child would reply, “Do you mean my father at the moment?” Others would simply shake their heads, being unwilling to talk about the monster who had begot them and whom they wished at all costs to forget.
I should mention a rather startling fact: By the time they are 15 or 16; twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child.” – From The Worldview that Makes the Underclass. Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, – a publication of Hillsdale College. May 2014
Further on Daniels writes of the complete lack of familial construct and how little hope there is of escaping the cycle of poverty and government entitlement that keeps destroyed families (lacking committed parents) alive but hopeless. Indeed he writes: “Work is for pocket money, the public dole is the means by which one lives.” (But this is the subject for another post.)
Is it really that difficult to imagine a world like this in America? Of course not. It’s already underway. Without the stabilizing impact of a sound and committed traditional marriage, the family social construct is ultimately unable to survive and thrive.
Finally, marriage provides safety and security for both husband and wife. In a good marriage both sexes are more determined to provide for each other those things to which they are committed, equipped and empowered. Love, real love, is nurtured and grows stronger and more capable. The passage of time is not deterioration but the potential for even stronger yet tender bonds.
Traditional marriage is the foundation of a healthy society. Same sex marriage, polygamy or any other aberration cannot provide the stabilization required to protect and preserve a healthy culture. Inexorably, we see how the breakdown of a healthy society festers when marriage as God designed it is demeaned and marginalized by proponents of aberrant and unhealthy substitutes. Government’s role should not include mandating fundamental change, but rather maintaining sufficient sanctions for its preservation and protection. Every court-ordered strike-down of marriage affirmation by voters for example, is a serious blow to a safe and stable environment for marriages and families – and their communities to continue to flourish.
As Christians, we are obliged to provide both example and encouragement for the hope that lies within us. Our marriages and certainly the institution they exhibit are too precious to surrender to political correctness and the inevitable assault on all our personal freedoms if we fail to stand and be heard.