The Institution of Marriage
Often, when I talk to fellow conservative Christians, they are outraged at the law that was passed a few years ago about allowing homosexual marriage. In principle, I agree with them that the government should not condone homosexual marriage, but I disagree with the assumption that the government should condone or give special privilege to marriage at all. This should be their argument, they should be arguing from religious freedom or, more particularly, from the separation of church and state.
My point is that the government should not elevate any relationship between two people, whatever the agreement may be, over other relationships. You might be tempted to kick back at me and say that statistically, marriage is the best dynamic or agreement that people can have with one another. I would have to concede in that observation, as just because it is the best option in general, it does not force everyone to take that path. What is most practically good for the balance sheet for the country statistically has nothing to do with how people actually live their lives, nor should it. America is a made up place, and stats are a made up grouping of people that compares other groups of people. It does not tell you whether something is wrong or right, it is merely meant to give the facts. The majority of the population does many things to hurt themselves, like spending so much that they are in debt or overeat so that they are obese and/or have diabetes. We do not turn around and pass a law that does not allow them to eat any more twinkies because they ought to be more healthy and fit.
In principle, people can govern themselves and affiliate with any person or ideas they want to. While I am a person who believes that marriage is God’s design for mankind, I also know that most of humanity does not believe in God, nor will they. I do not wish to pass laws that favor me because I happen to fix in the check box that the government is propping up. The most fundamental question is what kind of a relationship is marriage? Marriage is categorically and historically a religious observance. Most people who get married do not do it out of sheer romantic bliss but because they have a deep conviction that God has designed the fire of romantic love, and all its enjoyments are best enjoyed in the most committed, stable covenantal relationship in the world, marriage.
Perspective on the situation
Before I go into the past, I want to make a point that should shine things into the proper perspective. Let’s say you have a friend who does not believe in having a relationship with one person for the rest of their life. Let's say they are atheist and thus do not believe in objective truth. Their choice to have 10+ partners a year disadvantages that person. Just because they do not happen to believe in the idea of lifelong monogamy, they are not able to get the governmental benefits of the individuals who happen to believe in lifelong monogamy. This is a type of discrimination against those that do not happen to be religious or with who are religious but have not found their significant other yet or will never be able to find that person due to celibacy. If one wishes, you could easily, pragmatically, statistically justify many things, but one must be able to self-govern and self-own themselves and what they are to do with their lives. The government should not pick sides because of their polling numbers or because the stats look good. The legitimate role of the government is to do as little as possible and only jump in if there is true non-consensual violation of someone’s will. Special privilege in this relational dynamic takes away from those who are not in agreement with them and gives it to another. It creates a culture that says you have not fully arrived unless you have jumped on the train of marriage. You're not experiencing the fullness of the benefits of adulthood yet. People are not driven by a sincere desire to obey their religious beliefs or commit their life to the right person but instead feed pressure because of this artificial cultural dynamic that elevates those who are married.
We must always ask the question, why do these outsiders care? Most homosexuals are not religious and do not care for the traditional views of marriage, so why are they getting married? If it was just to win the approval of their homosexual peers, that would be silly, as many in the homosexual community do not care for temporary monogamy, let alone decades upon decades of it. Nor do they care to gain the approval of the church, except for the few outsider homosexuals that claim to be religious and gay. At the core, the government treats heterosexual marriage as better than all other romantic relationship agreements, and the homosexuals see that and call foul. They are saying IF these people are going to be advantaged for their preferences, then we should be too. It is little brother syndrome. The whole why does he get to Fill in the Blank, and I do not? This is what special privilege does. It picks winners and losers when in the grand scheme, people who enjoy one another and want to be in close friendship with each other is good. (Yes, they might be displeasing to God, but if they are not in faith in Christ, everything they do is sin anyway, Romans 14:23)
Historical Origins of Marriage
Now back to my original thesis of the nature of marriage. We discussed that marriage is primarily, religious but when does it date back to, what makes it primarily religious in nature? Can it not become something that secular people take over and the church not do anymore, or is it foundational to being a born again Christian life (for those who find a special person that is worthy of the commitment)? In the Old Testament (the early days of mankind, aka Ancient times), it was the ordinance and practice of mankind to get married. Originally, God just created one human, with one gender (male), and he was not able to reproduce. God made Eve (a woman) and joined them together in marriage for life. Very quickly, God saw that it was not good for men to be alone and wisely designed a helper for him. As far as Adam knew, he was just to fulfill the dominion mandate to keep the garden and take care of the animals. (he might have seen the animals having sex and offspring, but why would he think he was supposed to do it too? He really has no real reason to reproduce at that point. In theory, he could have stayed in the Garden of Eden for the rest of eternity with no sin and, therefore, no death with no other humans and been happy and joyful because he had no evil corrupting his heart. God gave him contentment and fulfillment in his work and because He would have had a companion in the Trinity just like the Trinity had with itself for “Eternity Past.” In theory, God could never have made woman and just left man in his bliss, but God knew that man would sin and become corrupted. Since they would become perishable (even if it was multiple centuries of life at first), they would need to continue to reproduce in order to keep up their population in order to give God the time He needed to send His son in just the right time and circumstances to redeem all the chosen ones (whose names are written in the book of life).
We see in the Ten commandments that honoring one's parents is assumed in the fifth commandment. When God says to honor one's parents, it assumes that the parents are together in holy matrimony. Even the laws in Leviticus assume that people are married and meant to have sex with only their wife. God took this so seriously in the Ancient days that He had a civil law that called for killing if a man slept with someone who was not his wife. In John 8, the Pharisees were trying to get Jesus to stone such a person. God believes in marriage so much that He hates to see people get divorced. “‘For I hate divorce,’ says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘and him who covers his garment with violence,’ says the LORD of armies. So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” (Mal. 2:15 NASB)
Once Jesus shows up on the scene, He loves marriage so much that He seeks a bride Himself, namely the church. The mission of Jesus on Earth was to redeem or purchase a bride with His blood. I mean, look at the high calling of marriage in Ephesians 5, there is nothing among mankind that God speaks more highly of.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church because we are parts of His body. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, as for you individually, each husband is to love his own wife the same as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband "(Ephesians 5:25-32).
Even if no humans ever were to be given in marriage in this life, Jesus wants the church. He wanted the church so much that He became a human, lived a perfect life in subject to his creatures, and died a gruesome death cursed, beaten, and nailed to the cross. Worst of all, He took the wrath of His betrothed so He could bring her home to daddy (God the Father) to live with Him for eternity. If you have not gotten the picture, the marriage of Christ and the Church was the whole point of God creating anything in the first place. You have a big garden scene where God saw that it was not good for Jesus to be alone and made Jesus a Bride, just like He made Eve.
Why am I going into all this detail? Well, because I am trying to clearly lay down the case that from the beginning of time, marriage has been a Judeo-Christian thing, to the point where God arranged the first marriage and arranged the last one (the one with Christ in glory). Here is a clear depiction of the future marriage that the church has to look forward to, aka the last marriage (since we will not be given in marriage in Heaven).
“‘Let’s rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.’ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” (Rev. 19:7-9)
As Christians, when the government wants to elevate heterosexual lifelong monogamous marriage to say yes and amen, but those who believe in a limited government (Minarchist) and do not believe in giving any worldview or business special privileges (because it gives unfair advantage and is ultimately favoritism) should frown. We should resist the idea that just because we think biblical marriage is good does not mean we should be set apart. In any other area of life, we do not believe in others being picked to get unfair advantages over us, but because it is a worldview, we are happy to be nominated for the government’s favorite romantic arrangement?
What I am about to say is important: If Christians are going to support the idea of being set apart as the ideal relationship arrangement, we can not be surprised or mad when others want the same privilege. It is the older brother complex that we see in the prodigal son story, but we should not have older brother status. We should all be treated equally. Any time one of my family or friends support the idea of getting rid of gay marriage, I say to them, do you support the idea of the government giving special privileges to biblical marriage? If they say yes, then I tell them they have engaged in the same thing as the homosexual couples, they just happened to have done it first and inspired the others to want the same treatment. My argument is to take away marriage as a government institution. It is not the government's job to be involved in picking winners or losers or picking how people live their lives. The government’s only legitimate purpose, according to Romans 13, is to stop evildoers. It has no positive biblical responsibility; it only has a negative one. To me, I think about the government like the first responders, the EMTs that come in the ambulance and the firefighters that come in the fire trucks. If nothing bad is happening, they are just hanging out, getting paid to do nothing. Assuming that is true, having idle first responders is good because that means nothing bad is or has happened (at least that is known about or reported). The government is just on standby to handle things when people are not able to deal with things on their own level. They are the backup plan. Until people realize their own hypocrisy in promoting biblical marriage for the government stamp, they have no right to say that government should not be involved in marriage between the same sex. Take away the incentive for homosexuals (the incentive to be like the government-approved heterosexual monogamous marriage) to want to be married, and I am sure many of them will stop caring about it.
I just want to be clear. I believe in marriage as the Bible teaches it. I am for it. This whole article has not been about my beliefs per se, though all the same, I could have been an atheist doing an observation piece and quoting from the Bible and saying that marriage is a religious institution. We need to get God out of our personal lives. Does that mean giving up the privilege? Yes, but it also means that we gain more religious freedom, and thus, we live freer lives. Any time we merge the church and the state, eventually, the state wants to come around and abuse that privilege. You can keep saying that homosexuals should not be married, and I would say that yes, the Bible clearly condemns homosexual marriage, but we are not talking about personal morality. We are talking about the role of the government.
Tim Bankes II
Tim is a Christian author. His worldview that informs his writing is Calvinist, Baptist, and Libertarian. His main series is his Christian picture book series, "About God for Kids", where he discusses the attributes of God in a way kids can digest. He also wrote a Christian Romance novel, libertarian book for beginners, and Christian coloring books. He graduated with a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He has written a book on freedom called “Are You Free” (If you are into listening to books I have it in audio also, Are You Free Audiobook )and he has written multiple children’s books about God. Be Sure to check out the podcast version of the blog, Labor for Truth Podcast. And check out “The Truth About” Youtube Channel. You can find his works at his amazon author page, https://amazon.com/author/timbankes. He even has a free digital ebook on how God is the creator. Get your free copy today at, Greater Creator .Also If you are into Christian Fiction, he has made his first book in his Futuristic Christian Fiction series free, Her Dying Wish
Some of my other favorite books on these subjects that are great for beginners are: