I don’t argue for traditional marriage.
Depending on your opinion of the recent Supreme Court ruling, you may either nod your head in agreement or shake it with disgust. You might wonder if you heard me right. So, I’ll say it again. I don’t argue for traditional marriage.
Now let me clarify what I mean.
For much of my childhood, I believed that riding motorcycles was a sin. My mother, who lived in dread that one of her six children might pass from this earth before graduating to adulthood, condemned these two-wheeled deathtraps every chance she could get. In her defense, she never actually said that riding them was a sin. I just assumed it. Imagine my shock, then, when the pastor of my church inadvertently left his garage door open, revealing a motorcycle hidden inside. A pastor? With a motorcycle? How could it be?
As a child, this revelation shook me to my core. I had developed a certain belief in my head. Motorcycles were bad. That experience, however, caused me to think. Maybe what I had learned was not true. Maybe motorcycles were okay. Maybe the little tradition I had formed in my developing brain needed some adjustment. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was not a sin to ride a motorcycle.
My experience does more than prove the immaturity of adolescent thinking. It reveals a truth about humanity. Sometimes we hold tightly to certain beliefs just because they have been integrated into our personal traditions. When confronted with a better idea, we modify our beliefs.
That’s where marriage enters the discussion. The phrase “traditional marriage” refers to the marriage of one man and one woman. It stands in direct opposition to the union of two men or two women. Therefore, many of the arguments we have been hearing lately either defend or oppose “traditional marriage.”
As I listen to advocates of traditional marriage, I notice a fatal flaw in their argument. They defend one-man-one-woman marriage because that is how marriage has always been defined. It has worked well for thousands of years, so why change it? In other words, they support traditional marriage because it is traditional.
This approach is untenable for several reasons. First, homosexual marriage seems to work for many people. Second, the gay lifestyle is not new. It has been around for thousands of years. Third, when homosexual marriage has been the accepted norm for a couple hundred years, it will also be considered traditional. Anything, done long enough, will become traditional.
Therefore, the argument for traditional marriage cannot be founded on the fact that it is traditional. It needs to have some other basis.
But what other basis is there?
The only way that any type of marriage can be defended is by going back to the source. Who or what originally defined marriage, and what is its definition?
Marriage was instituted at the beginning of time. God formed a man and, seeing that he was alone, created a woman. Bringing them together, God gave the first marriage pronouncement: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God therefore established marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Thousands of years later, when some folks confronted Jesus about His opinions of marriage, He rejected all of the traditions that had been formed over the years, and went straight back to the beginning. He quoted God’s original pronouncement as given in Genesis (Mark 10:6-8).
We should do the same. If we argue for traditional marriage simply because it is traditional, we will find ourselves at an impasse. Traditions change as people and culture change. God’s definition of marriage, however, does not change.
That is why I do not argue for traditional marriage. Instead, I argue for marriage as God defined it. It has been, is, and always will be, the union of one man and one woman for life. And if the man and woman want to ride off into the sunset on a motorcycle, more power to them.
This article appeared in the Bremen Enquirer in my column Connections: Relating the Bible to Everyday Life on Thursday, July 9, 2015.