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Christian Apologetics (4): Marriage (2)

D Vallance, Detroit

Living Together is Destructive

Flee from sexual immorality (1 Cor 6.18); So flee youthful passions (2 Tim 2.22).1

In His Word God prescribes and blesses life-long heterosexual union in marriage, and chastity (which is more than abstinence) in all other circumstances. Scripture repeatedly condemns sexual relations prior to entering into a legal marriage (Acts 15.20; 1 Cor 6.13-18; 7.2; Gal 5.19; Eph 5.3; Col 3.5; 1 Thess 4.3). Premarital relations are sinful because they destroy God’s pattern for marriage, which is the lifetime "cleaving" to each other first guaranteed by a covenant, and only then ratified by physical union. Only those who have solemnly promised such eternal faithfulness to each other can rightly enjoy the privileges of marriage. Thus the will of God is complete sexual abstinence before and outside of marriage.

Abstinence is the act of refraining from an unworthy, unhealthy, or degrading activity. It is vital to ignore the world’s lies about this subject. Abstinence is the decision not to reduce physical intimacy to a cheap giveaway, or to pretend that sexual relations are insignificant. Rather, abstinence understands that intimacy is valuable — so valuable that it must be saved for marriage. Purity is the path of God’s will, and thus the only sure way to security, peace, and wholeness. And the cliché that abstinence builds character is absolutely true. Those who refuse to learn self-control before marriage will not have self-control after marriage either. Marriage will satisfy a legitimate sex drive (1 Cor 7.9), but it will not satisfy unbridled lust. Marriage continues to require a great deal of self-control, and there are times in marriage when physical intimacy must be postponed or even abandoned for spiritual or physical reasons (1 Cor 7.5).

Only a fully consummated marriage can protect the husband and wife from the risk of abandonment. In marriage, a couple must be completely honest and vulnerable with each other in order for their relationship to flourish. Only the marriage contract can properly protect this precious trust. A woman who attempts to keep her boyfriend by giving in to him is engaging in unprotected vulnerability, and will find herself morally defrauded and emotionally traumatized when the man — who has no binding commitment to her — walks away. Such perverse dynamics are the rule in unmarried partnerships. Without a binding contract, the partner who loves less controls the relationship. The partner who loves more must constantly capitulate, or risk losing his or her partner. Marriage frees both partners from such madness.

If society obeyed God’s prohibition again premarital sex, there would be fewer sexually transmitted diseases, fewer abortions, fewer unwed mothers, and fewer children growing up outside of the two-parent family structure that God intended for them. Abstinence for unmarried people — God’s only policy — saves lives, protects babies, sanctifies sexual relations, and honours God. God’s laws are truly for our good (Deut 10.13).

Homosexual Relations are Perverse

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination" (Lev 18.22).

The Bible condemns homosexuality in both Testaments (Gen 19.1-11; Lev 20.13; 1 Tim 1.9-10). God intended men and women to complement each other psychologically and physically, and homosexuality clearly defies this design (Gen 1.27-28; 2.18). Paul explains that when people persist in unbelief and sin, God punishes them by "giving them over" to even more wicked and depraved behaviour (Rom 1.20-28). He describes the sin of Sodom as unnatural, shameful, lustful, and indecent, and states that those whose lives are characterized by it will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6.9). Thus, choosing to indulge in homosexual thoughts or acts is sinful with no exceptions.

According to God’s Word, everyone inherently knows that homosexuality is wrong (Rom 1.32). Activists for this sin, however, replace with a lie the truth made plain by God. They work feverishly to suppress this inherent knowledge by aggressively campaigning for society to accept their behaviour as normal, and for the state to recognize their same-sex "marriages" as valid. Using the oldest trick in the debating book, they angrily shout down anyone who sincerely attempts to criticize their immoral and unhealthy practices. They vigorously pursue scientific respectability — recently, a group of British scientists outrageously claimed that homosexuality is "the pinnacle of evolution".

People wonder if homosexuality is genetic. It is, of course. All sin is genetic, since all people are born with a fallen nature that they inherit from their parents (Ps 51.5). Thus the potential for every sin is latent in every person. Further, a person’s genetic makeup will influence his behaviour by predisposing his fallen nature to act in certain ways. Anyone who doubts this only needs to consider that possessing the Y chromosome (i.e. being male) increases the likelihood of violent crime by a factor of nine. Predisposition, however, is not predetermination. No male can use his gender to excuse acts of violence. All human behaviour is ultimately an act of will, and is never mandated by biology. Just as males predisposed to violence must choose to be bullies, and people predisposed to alcohol addiction must choose to become alcoholics, so people predisposed to homosexual sin must choose to become homosexuals. Although the grip of these behaviours rapidly becomes too strong for people to escape, they nonetheless begin as the unfettered choices of responsible persons.

Some people — including some believers — struggle with same-sex attraction. However, a tendency toward this sin does not excuse it, because acting on homosexual urges is always voluntary. All sin is addictive, including this sin. Just as repeated indulgence strengthens neural connections associated with a given sin, so abstinence over time will cause these same connections to thin out. By God’s grace people can and have stopped this behaviour and reverted to a chaste life (1 Cor 6.11). God will deliver those who wish to be delivered. Every life obsessed with sexual gratification — whether homosexual or heterosexual — is a life of bondage, and calls for deliverance. The Son and the Spirit can make such people free (Jn 8.36; 1 Cor 10.13; Gal 5.22-23).

Defending God’s Design

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Eph 5.25).

Since God designed marriage to honour His Son, Satan has targeted marriage from the very beginning. In order to thwart God’s intentions, Satan has always portrayed Him as a mean-spirited killjoy bent on depriving people of their deserved pleasures. In truth, however, Satan is the robber who comes "to steal and kill and destroy"; only those who obey Christ find abundant life (Jn 10.10). We must learn again what God has stated from the start: His laws are meant for our good (Deut 10.12-13).

The battle over marriage is really the battle over God’s Word. Our culture does not take the Bible’s morality seriously because it does not take the Bible seriously. We must therefore persist in simply preaching His Word, which is fully capable of defending itself (Is 55.11; Heb 4.12). We must also earnestly contend for the truth of Scripture — including the literal historical truth of the critical early chapters of Genesis. We must speak the truth in love (Eph 4.15), and make the case for the Bible’s inerrancy and authority with gentleness and respect (1 Pet 3.15). We must also pray for grace to live out its truth in our own lives — especially its truths about marriage and sexual purity.

The Lord is the avenger of marriage (1 Thess 4.6). He also fully forgives and changes the lives of those who repent and believe (2 Cor 5.17). There is still a warning here for the careless: people will not always forgive you, and nature will never give you a second chance. Thus the choice to commit sexual sin may bring lifelong social and physical consequences. But God Himself will always forgive. Even after years of sin, those who humble themselves before the Lord will be lifted up, and God will graciously restore to them the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2.25).

To be continued.

1 In this series of articles, unless otherwise indicated, all direct quotations from Scripture are taken from the English Standard Version.

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