Because of my proximity to married life, I have decided to continue with another post on marriage myths. Last week I posted on two dangerous ways our culture shapes our thinking and conduct regarding marriage. The main point was that a marriage partner makes a great companion but a very poor Savior!
In this post I want to address how many secularists and professing Christians want to redefine God’s standard for human sexuality and marriage because they think that we have evolved and progressed past many of the archaic or dated issues in the ancient text.
I have read several online forums recently where people believe the Bible to be merely an evolved book of absolute nonsense, written by anonymous “Bronze Age nomads,” who thought the Earth was a circle at the center of the Universe and the moon was a lamp.
People acquire this cynical and disrespectful attitude about the Bible and its authors by adopting what I call the “Cultural Myth.”
Myth #3: The Bible merely reflects the family values of the ancient world.
Secular literature and liberal thinking continues to produce an ongoing script in order to defend their heretical views on marriage. They claim that the biblical authors are just echoing the culture of their day. They DENY that Scripture is absolutely true and without error, and that the meaning of Biblical texts is rooted in historical, unchangeable intentions of its divine and human authors. In other words, the Bible might plainly condemn something, but it doesn’t matter anymore because cultures and standards have changed.
My goal in this post is to offer a biblical response to three general areas where this myth rears its ugly head: same-sex marriage, divorce, egalitarianism. Although much more could be written on this topic, I will just briefly focus on the typical liberal script, and then follow with an appropriate response.
Issue #1: Same-Sex Marriage
Myth: This myth proposes that the Bible condemns homosexual marriage simply because that was the commonly held belief of the day. While the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality for Israel in the Old Testament, that Scripture has no bearing for us today because our culture and circumstances are so different.
Truth: Marriage is not an artificial construct of a particular culture, nor a transitory institution aimed at repressing this or that special interest group. Marriage predates cultures, civilizations, political parties and ideologies. As the Church today, the law of Christ binds us, not the Old Testament law, and Christ’s law clearly teaches the centrality of marriage as the joining of a man and woman, which Christ Himself declared to be God’s purpose in creation (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-5). Today we are bound by the moral teachings and all the warnings of the New Testament, which clearly condemn same-sex behaviors as sin.
It cannot be stressed enough that God’s plan, which is absolutely true, predates culture. Culture has not always existed. Turning to the earliest pages of Scripture, Genesis states and Jesus reaffirms God’s good plan for marriage to be between one woman and one man.
“From the beginning the Creator made them male and female. . . . For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matt. 19:4-5).
One might also point out that marriage was at the heart of God’s plan for man even before Creation. Jesus was the author of marriage, for “all things came to be through Him and without him nothing came to be” (Jn 1:3). Because Jesus became flesh and wedded Himself to humanity, He revived the roots and revealed the real meaning of marriage. God created marriage to reflect the love of Christ for His Church and ultimately bring Him glory (Ephesians 5:25).
Issue #2: Divorce
Myth: Today’s culture largely considers divorce permissible for any reason. They advocate that Jesus and Paul said what they did only because women were at the mercy of men economically in the first century and in danger of exploitation. If Jesus and Paul were alive today, they certainly would reflect American perspectives on divorce!
Truth: One of the trademarks of Jesus’ ministry is how He consistently challenged the overly religious culture of His day. Jesus challenged what was commonly believed about divorce as he conversed with the Pharisees (Matthew 19:3-12). Consider Jesus’ words, “You have heard…but I say unto you.” Jesus understood that the culture of the day allowed men to divorce their wives for almost any reason under the sun. Jesus comes right out and boldly confronts them. While the culture said one thing about divorce, Jesus came back and confronted his hearers with the truth of Scripture.
Issue #3: Egalitarianism
Myth: The egalitarian teaches equality in every area of service within the church including being an elder and pastor. Therefore, a woman is fully qualified as a man would be to hold the office of elder, bishop, pastor, and deacon. The egalitarians would interpret scriptures dealing with male headship in a cultural context and assert that these are not universal requirements. The only reason Paul teaches that women need to be submissive in church and in the marriage relationship is due to the fact that male leadership in the home is all Paul knew, and was the common and promoted perspective of the first century. What Paul teaches isn’t truth; it’s just first century thinking
Truth: Scripture speaks clearly and cohesively from beginning to end on the subject of human beings as male and female created equally in the image of God and with distinct roles relating to marriage and the church. Paul says that male leadership is rooted in that which predates culture. In First Timothy, in the context of gender relationships, Paul anchors submission to the creation order (I Timothy 2). Based on the order of creation, men and women are to interact differently with one another. What then is God’s plan? Husbands are to lovingly lead their wives as Christ lovingly leads the Church. And then of course God’s plan is to see wives lovingly submitting to their husbands, loving leadership. That is supposed to be a picture of how the Church submits to Christ.
Warning: This myth espouses a deplorably low view of Scripture. A low view of Scripture will produce a low view of God, Christ, salvation, grace, heaven, hell, and every other issue that Scripture clearly teaches. If you decide to abandon the absolute truth of Scripture and its absolute truth, it may begin a slippery slope that will inevitably lead you to abandoning the truth of the gospel altogether.
Christians must not be shaped by their culture, but by the cross of Christ, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. The goal should not be to arrogantly tell off people who do not embrace the absolute truths of Scripture and fight with them just to get our points across. Instead, our goal should be to pray for them and point them to the Savior by highlighting who He is and His character. Truly the ungodly culture has no chance to learn and grasp the real meaning and purpose of marriage apart from God’s merciful work in their lives (I Corinthians 2:14). So may God grant to each of us the willingness to be the kind of husband or wife or single person that He wants us to be, to His glory, to the benefit and blessing of others, and to the salvation of lost sinners.