A Defense of Marriage

Text: Ecclesiastes 9:2-9


I.         A recent article in Newsweek was brought to my attention. It is the cover story, called “Our Mutual Joy” by Lisa Miller, published 12/15/2008. [http://newsweek.com/id/172653]

            A.        It claims that those who use the Bible to oppose gay marriages are dishonest.

            B.        The article itself is a hodge-podge of standard arguments against the Bible’s clear statements concerning homosexuality. It’s as if the author hopes that if she throws out a number of arguments, one is bound to stick.

II.        The arguments

            A.        People in the Bible didn’t follow a one man, one woman union.

                        1.         The argument:

                                    a.         “Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel – all these fathers and heroes were polygamists.”

                                    b.         Then she pokes fun at the New Testament for a different reason. “The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments – especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust.”

                                    c.         She then concludes that no self-respecting person would turn to the Bible to define marriage – other than those crazy religious fundamentalists who insist that gay marriages are wrong.

                        2.         One of the interesting points about the Bible is that it teaches the concept of right and wrong, but it displays people as they are. It doesn’t gloss over people’s flaws or tries to make people seem to be grander than they are.

                                    a.         One of God’s points, proven repeatedly in the pages of the Bible, is - Romans 3:10-20

                                    b.         Thus the fact that you can find examples of people who break God’s law concerning marriage through polygamy, to be expected.

                                    c.         But does that mean everyone in the Old Testament was a polygamist?

                                                (1)       What about Adam and Eve? Noah and his wife? Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives? Isaac and Rebekah? Job and his wife? Moses and Zipporah? Naomi and Elimelech? Ruth and Boaz? Joseph and Mary?

                                                (2)       It isn’t true that all the kings of Judah and Israel were polygamists. For many, if a wife is named, only one is mentioned.

                                                (3)       The same is true for most of the prophets.

                                    d.         In other words, this woman is picking and choosing a limited subset to give the appearance of something that is not.

                        3.         Did the New Testament teach an indifference or avoidance of marriage?

                                    a.         Peter was married - Matthew 8:14

                                                (1)       He was also an elder (I Peter 5:1) and that required being a “one woman man” - I Timothy 3:2

                                    b.         Though Paul remained unmarried and he stated why - I Corinthians 7:25-28

                                                (1)       Paul is not opposed to marriage nor did he state it was a sin to marry. His concern was that the upcoming persecution would be extra hard on the married.

                                                (2)       Concerning himself he argued - I Corinthians 9:5

                                    c.         Notice what this implies: Paul is unique among the apostles in being single. The others were married – each to ONE wife.

            B.        Marriage isn’t defined

                        1.         “First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.”

                        2.         Then later she claims monogamy is a modern invention!

                                    a.         “Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century; husband’s frequent enjoyment of mistresses and prostitutes became taboo by the beginning of the 20th.”

                                    b.         If that were true (and it is clearly not), then we would expect the Bible to be supporting prostitution, adultery, polygamy, and even homosexuality. But it doesn’t.

                        3.         The institution of marriage - Genesis 2:24

                        4.         Jesus statement of marriage - Matthew 19:4-6

                        5.         Elders

                                    a.         Follow their example - Hebrews 13:7

                                    b.         Husband of one wife - Titus 1:5-6

                        6.         The Law - Romans 7:2-3

                        7.         Obviously, monogamous marriages between one man and one woman have long existed prior to the sixth century

                                    a.         Ever heard of the commandment “You shall not commit adultery”?

                        8.         What is odd is that she then contradicts her statement of a lack of definition: “... no sensible modern person wants marriage - theirs or anyone else’s – to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes.” Which is it?

            C.        No good reason not to have gay marriages

                        1.         “... the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married – and a number of excellent reasons why they should.”

                        2.         “Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition ...”

                        3.         That homosexuality is a sin doesn’t seem to enter this author’s mind

                                    a.         I Corinthians 6:9-10 - Cannot be a part of the kingdom

                                    b.         Leviticus 18:22 - an abomination

                        4.         The concept of a “living document” means she believes the Bible survived all these years because it was adapted to society’s whims. It speaks “truths” even as people change their view of what is truth.

                        5.         This is her escape route to facing reality – things change

            D.        She admits that Leviticus and Paul were “tough on homosexuality,” but argues that we ignore other teachings, so why not these as well?

                        1.         Notice the contradiction between “no good reason” and admitting that there is a condemnation of homosexuality.

                        2.         “Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as “an abomination” (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat – or a lamb or a turtle dove. Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions.”

                                    a.         Here the author errs because most acknowledge that the Old Testament’s laws on cleanness were far advanced than the societies around them and were accurate.

                        3.         “In any case, one might add, Paul argued more strenuously against divorce – and at least half the Christians disregard that teaching.”

                        4.         But the very next line states, “Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition ...”

                        5.         Now, which is it going to be? An admittance that the Bible does speak out against homosexuality (but we can ignore it) or the Bible doesn’t say it is wrong?

                        6.         The real point should not be whether people today or in the past have ignored God’s teaching, but whether ignoring the law is acceptable to God

                                    a.         Israel was expected to keep all of God’s commandments - Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (one of numerous similar commands)

                                    b.         Jesus said the same thing - John 14:23-24

                                    c.         As did Paul - Galatians 1:6-10

                                    d.         Changing God’s law was not an option given to man

            E.        And there is crux of the matter “if you believe the Bible was written by men”

                        1.         Later she states, “We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future.”

                        2.         The Bible claims to not be from man - Galatians 1:11-12

                        3.         As a result it cannot be interpreted by men - II Peter 1:19-21

                        4.         Thus the argument that the Bible was meant to be adapted and interpreted by each changing society is contrary to God’s stated will.

                        5.         Make a man complete - II Timothy 3:15-17

            F.        It doesn’t say it as I would have said it or where I would have written it

                        1.         “Jesus never mentions homosexuality” and “It probably goes without saying that the phrase ‘gay marriage’ does not appear in the Bible.”

                        2.         Since the Bible claims to have all things pertaining to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3), this admittance that it isn’t mentioned is itself a condemnation.

                        3.         But logically, since homosexuality itself is condemned, it would follow that gay marriages would not need to be mentioned since this would only come about by the acceptance of homosexual sin.

                        4.         By the way, Jesus does refer to the destruction of Sodom (Matthew 10:15; 11:23-24; Luke 10:12; 17:29). He states that those in that city were justly destroyed and that they would face condemnation in the final Judgment.

                                    a.         Since the reason for destruction was homosexuality - Jude 7

                                    b.         And it was for that reason they will end up in hell, it follows that Jesus did speak on the topic.

                        5.         Just because something isn’t worded as you would, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

                        6.         Also, there is no rule stating that only the things directly mentioned by Jesus are accepted or condemned..

                                    a.         The disciples were commanded to teach Jesus’ doctrine - Matthew 28:18-20

                                    b.         They would have an accurate memory - John 14:26

                                    c.         Thus the writings of the apostles are also the teachings of Jesus

            G.        Lesbians aren’t mentioned in the Bible

                        1.         “Sex between women has never, even in biblical times, raised as much ire.” and “... nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women.”

                        2.         Romans 1:26-27 contradicts these assertions.

                        3.         It is not only mentioned, but it is also condemned.

            H.        We are more knowledgeable

                        1.         “... our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions. Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?”

                        2.         “The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.”

                        3.         Notice that this very argument contradicts prior assertions. There is an admittance that the Bible does condemn homosexuality and an implication that if we actually followed its teachings we would have to condemn it and homosexual marriages as well.

                        4.         The idea that man knows more than God has been around for a long while - I Corinthians 1:18-29

                        5.         The Bible claims to be the permanent set of rules for this age - Jude 3

                                    a.         Jude then goes on to warn about corrupt people coming trying to teach other doctrine.

                        6.         “Today’s vision of marriage as a union of equal partners, joined in a relationship both romantic and pragmatic, is, but very recent standards, radical ...”

                                    a.         Genesis 2:18 - A helper suitable to man

                                    b.         Ecclesiastes 9:9 - Enjoy life with the woman you love

                                    c.         I Peter 3:7 - fellow heirs

            I.         Paul was talking about something else

                        1.         “Paul was tough on homosexuality, though recently progressive scholars have argued that his condemnation of men who ‘were inflamed with lust for one another’ (which he calls a ‘a perversion’) is really a critique of the worst kind of wickedness: self-delusion, violence, promiscuity and debauchery. In his book ‘The Arrogance of Nations,’ the scholar Neil Elliott argues that Paul is referring in this famous passage to the depravity of the Roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula, a reference his audience would have grasped instantly. ‘Paul is not talking about what we call homosexuality at all,’ Elliot says. “He’s talking about a certain group of people who have done everything in this list. We’re not dealing with anything like gay love or gay marriage. We’re talking about really, really violent people who meet their end and are judged by God.’”

                        2.         Notice that vain attempt to bolster the argument by calling her source a “progressive scholar.”

                        3.         Actually, if this is a sample, his scholarship is horrible.

                                    a.         The context is the decay of the Greek society

                                    b.         The verses detail one of the steps in that decay.

                                    c.         It is the acts and the unnatural desire which are roundly condemned as being degrading, unnatural, indecent, and justly causing disease.

                                    d.         The violence comes as follow on to this already miserable

            J.         It ought to be there, somewhere

                        1.         In quoting a theological professor, there is this confession, “The religious argument for gay marriage, he adds, ‘is not generally made with reference to particular texts, but with the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness.’”

                                    a.         In other words, I can’t prove it because it doesn’t say it, but I feel it ought to be there in order to include everyone.

                        2.         After calling Jonathan and David’s relationship homosexual because of David’s poem to his departed friend - II Samuel 1:26

                                    a.         Yes, there is a mention of love, but it is her assumption that it was a sexual love. That is not stated, or actually even implied.

                                    b.         And she admits “What Jonathan and David did or did not do in privacy is perhaps best left to history and our imaginations.”

                                    c.         She forgets that God recorded the account. Even the “private matter” of David’s adultery with Bathsheba is publically laid bare. Why would anyone assume that a lack of information means God was respecting their privacy to sin?

                                    d.         The fact is that it is pure imagination – not facts.

                        3.         Here is inclusiveness!

                                    a.         “The story of Jesus revealing himself to the woman at the well – no matter that she had five former husbands and a current boyfriend – as evidence of Christ’s all-encompassing love.”

                                    b.         While Jesus did spend time teaching many sinners, including this woman, where is the statement that she was accepted to remain in her sins?

                                    c.         Jesus always warned there must be change - Luke 13:3

            K.        It is no different than race

                        1.         “... to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color ...”

                        2.         Skin color has never been a sin

                                    a.         One the early converts was a man from Ethiopia - Acts 8:27ff

                        3.         But denial of “sacraments” based on sinful sexuality has been practiced

                                    a.         I Corinthians 5:1-5 - The Corinthians were condemned for allowing a sexual sinner to remain in their midst

                                    b.         Exclusion of fornicators - I Corinthians 5:9-13

                                    c.         Cannot be a part of the kingdom, including homosexuals - I Corinthians 6:9-10

                                    d.         God judges fornicators and adulterers - Hebrews 13:4

            L.        Jesus would want this

                        1.         “... in his heart he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for ‘Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad.’”

                        2.         I have news for you – Jesus is alive today - Colossians 2:13

                        3.         Yes, we should be reaching out to homosexuals, along with other sinners, to show them the way out of their sins, so that they too can be alive in Christ - I Corinthians 6:9-11

                        4.         But this idea that Jesus does want people to be unhappy. Have they forgotten what will happen when Jesus returns? - II Thessalonians 1:7-9

III.       Salvation is found in obedience - Luke 6:46-49