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Is the Definition of Marriage Really Ours to Change?

Is the definition of marriage really ours to change?
The U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage give support to efforts to change the definition of marriage. But can we really do that?

On June 26 the Supreme Court of the United States in a 5-4 decision struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996 that denied federal marital benefits to “married” homosexual couples. It also issued a separate ruling that will allow homosexual marriages to resume in California in spite of a state constitutional amendment that defined valid marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Homosexual rights advocates are celebrating this as another victory in their fight to integrate homosexuality into American life. People who hold traditional beliefs about marriage are disappointed but hardly surprised. The United States as a nation has seen a seismic shift in its views on homosexuality in the past decade.

What the polls reveal and why

In May of 2011 the nation reached a tipping point when, for the first time, some polls showed a majority of Americans favored legalizing same-sex marriages. An agenda to change the country’s collective mind on the issue has finally succeeded, driven by activists, politicians, the media, the entertainment industry and intellectuals. This was strongly driven by the entertainment industry’s gradual inclusion of homosexual characters in movies and television shows.

Consider the progression over the years:

  • A character who pretends to be homosexual (Three’s Company).
  • Images of people of the same sex kissing (Roseanne).
  • A main character in a sitcom “coming out” toward the end of the show’s run (Ellen).
  • A show that revolved around an openly gay character (Will and Grace).
  • Cable TV programs that showed graphic depictions of homosexual behavior (The L Word and Queer as Folk).

These are just some examples of the scores of TV shows and movies that have featured homosexual characters.

Systematically influenced

Americans should understand that their national opinions on this issue did not naturally evolve over time. They were systematically influenced and conditioned to accept this lifestyle through a sustained effort on the part of activists and entertainers to normalize the idea of same-sex romantic relationships.

That influence has affected demographics that formerly were resistant to the idea of same-sex marriage, including religious people. The Washington Post reported that 57 percent of Catholics and 55 percent of Protestants support same-sex marriage. Regionally, the majority of people living in the Midwest support it (53 percent), while it is opposed by half of Southerners (Public Religion Research Institute).

Though some conservative activists still believe it is wrong and will fight to roll back “gay marriage,” their efforts will almost certainly be to no avail. Same-sex marriage is a new reality in America and will only grow.

The emerging generation of Millennials (generally considered to be individuals born from 1980 to the early 2000’s) support same-sex marriage by a 7-to-3 ratio (72 percent). In just five years, the youngest of the Millennials will reach voting age while the oldest members of the generation are joining the nation’s business and political leadership.

Is marriage ours to define?

But is marriage really ours to define? Do human beings have the right to decide whether same-sex marriage is to be allowed or not?

Thousands of years of human experience has overwhelmingly concluded that the union of a man and a woman is the fundamental building block of society. There have been exceptions, but they only prove the rule.

More importantly the Holy Bible states that God, not humans, created marriage.

When Jesus Christ was asked a question about divorce, He quoted Genesis to make this point: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6, emphasis added).

God created humans male and female in such a marvelous way that the two can be joined together by Him in the marriage union (Genesis 2:18, 24). One of the first things God told Adam and Eve after their union was to “be fruitful and multiply,” that is, to have children (Genesis 1:28).

One of the great purposes of marriage is to provide a framework in which children can be born and raised in a stable atmosphere that helps human society continue. Being raised by a masculine father and a feminine mother helps create balanced and healthy children.

Same-sex couples can’t really be married

So in the most important sense, same-sex couples will never be married. God will not unite them as husband and husband, or wife and wife. Despite human reasoning, homosexual marriage is not God’s intention, nor is it allowed by Him. It is one example of humanity going its own way and devising its own ideas apart from the revelation of God (Romans 1:26-32).

The more supportive society becomes of sinful sexual behavior, whether heterosexual or homosexual, the farther we move from the Bible as our moral guide. Increasingly we prefer to lean on our own feelings, our skewed sense of fairness and what seems reasonable to us in order to decide (and impose on others) what is right and wrong.

God warns that the result of following our own minds instead of His leads to suffering and is ultimately fatal: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

We scoff at this truth at our own risk.

For more background on this subject, see our video commentaries:

For more about God’s original purpose and intentions for marriage, see the section on “How to Have a Happy Marriage.”

About the Author

Joel Meeker

Joel Meeker

Joel Meeker is a pastor, writer, editor and administrator. He serves as regional director for the French-speaking regions of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association (a position he’s had for over 20 years). He is also chairman of its Ministerial Board of Directors.  

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