As I write this, news is breaking that the Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. So it goes. It was bound to happen. The redefinition of marriage has been going on for decades, and the Church has allowed it to happen. Only recently, when the definition has been slightly expanded to include two people of the same gender, has the church raised her voice in protest. And then only weakly.
What happened? Before two people of the same gender who loved each other deeply argued for their right to get married, two people who used to love each other deeply but no longer do argued for their right to get divorced. Before that, two people who love each other deeply with little or no desire to share that love or receive the natural fruit of their sexual union argued that they should be allowed to marry without also being expected to have children.
Marriage has already been redefined. As God created marriage, it was a life-long union between a man and a woman, as the liturgy of Holy Matrimony teaches, “intended by God for the mutual companionship, help, and support that each person ought to receive from the other…so that man and woman may find delight in one another…for the procreation of children who are to be brought up in the fear and instruction of the Lord.”
Did you catch that? We used to believe that marriage was about more than just love. It was about the life-long companionship of a man and a woman, that they might have a God-pleasing outlet for their sexual desires, that God might bless their union with children.
Then the culture embraced contraception, believing that sexual pleasure could be separated from God’s gift of children. And the church went along with the culture. Then the culture sold us no-fault divorce, supposing that if a couple is no longer “in love,” they should divorce in order to find happiness. And the church bought what the culture was selling.
If you believe that marriage is simply about love, then children are optional and divorce is a good solution if you quit loving each other.
When the church protests against same-sex marriage, while making no fuss about the prevalence of divorce or contraception among Christian couples, she sounds exactly like advocates of homosexual marriage misrepresent her: whiny and narrow-minded. God’s Word doesn’t prohibit same-sex marriage because homosexual behavior is sinful (which it is). It prohibits same-sex marriage because marriage is a gift from God for the life-long, procreative union of a man and a woman. The gift of marriage is much bigger than we’ve allowed it to be reduced to.
As long as the church is unrepentant for allowing contraception and no-fault divorce, she has already allowed marriage to be redefined. Advocates of same-sex marriage are just using the new definition of marriage that we have permitted: two people who love each other.
Before we gripe and moan about the SCOTUS’s opinion on DOMA, we would do well to turn critical eyes toward ourselves. If we begin in repentance for our past (and present) mistakes, for wanting to receive some of God’s gifts but not all of them, we’ve found better ground to stand on. Then we can extol the beautiful gift of marriage, which is more than just the relationship between a man and a woman. It’s an icon of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church. This is the only perfect marriage, the only perfectly eternal marriage, the only perfectly fruitful marriage.
Let’s receive the gifts God desires to give as He desires to give them. His gifts truly are good.