Politicians, pundits and even pastors have all joined the debate on same-sex marriage. Since 2004, six states have recognized same sex marriages in their state, but the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by then-president Bill Clinton, prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and allows each U.S. state to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. In recent years however, public opinion of same-sex marriage has been growing and DOMA will likely be challenged or changed. President Obama has already instructed Attorney General Eric Holder to no longer defend this Defense of Marriage Act.
As Christians, when we consider public policy, it is important for us to ask the question: What does the Bible have to say about this? So what does the Bible have to say about same-sex marriage? Well the Bible actually has much to say about this issue, both explicitly and implicitly, but for lack of space lets consider three things in this discussion: A definition of marriage; a biblical understanding of homosexuality; and the church's response.
First of all, the Bible is very clear on the definition of marriage. In Genesis 2, when God designed and instituted marriage, he made the woman from the man with the purpose of the woman and the man being joined again in the one-flesh union of marriage. God says in Genesis 2:24, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Throughout the scripture, it is very clear what God's design for marriage is: a one-flesh, monogamous union between one man and one woman. Even a basic understanding of human anatomy points to God's design in marriage between a man and a woman.
Secondly, it is also very clear in scripture that God condemns homosexuality as sin. Homosexuality is called an abomination in the Old Testament. It was one of the great sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. And the apostle Paul uses homosexuality as the great evidence of debased culture in Romans 1. He says in Romans 1:21, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." He then goes on to say in Romans 1:26-27, "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.
For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." The Bible is very clear. Homosexuality is not God's design and is sin against his command.
Thirdly, it is important that we talk about the church's response. Unfortunately, the church has given a dismal response to homosexuality in our culture. Christians have disregarded and rejected homosexuals. Christians are quick to condemn homosexuality, but slow to condemn divorce, fornication and other sins in marriage. The church has failed to hold the covenant of marriage as something that is precious, we have failed to protect marriage, and we have failed to hold husbands and wives to a high standard. Homosexuality is clearly a sin. Same-sex marriage is clearly not God's design. But if the church wants to restore this world to a reflection of the Kingdom of Christ we must first repent of our failures in heterosexual marriage and work to be the kind of husbands and wives that God has called us to be.
The Apostle Paul explains that marriage is the picture that God gave to represent Christ and the church. When we fail in marriage, we fail in representing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray that the Lord would restore marriage in our churches and then use our churches to restore marriage in society; that the gospel may be clear and the glory of God might be known in all the earth.
Jason Dees is a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, the husband of Paige and the father of Emery Anna. He is also the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington.