This blog exists, as the header above states, to give “mites from our momentary marriage and ministry”. Yet on the day after one of those words is redefined in our country, what to say?
In some ways, with the flurry of thoughts being shared by people much smarter than me (see list below), I don’t feel I have anything useful to add about it.
But I’ll also be honest – I’ve been scared of saying anything all day. (If you know me well enough, you’ll have noticed my sinful tendency to feather my reputation, word things nicely and to “keep the peace”. My ditch is the people-pleasing one.)
- I’m scared of saying anything that takes a stand on marriage – even though Jesus wasn’t silent about it.
- I’m scared that I’ll be too contentious – even though we’re to contend for the faith.
- I’m scared that I’ll lose friends and influence – even though we’re to count the cost of following Jesus.
- I’m scared to be on the wrong side of public opinion – even though the Christian message is foolishness to the world anyways.
There’s one other thing I’m also scared about:
that the definition of marriage I support, that I vowed to is a definition I don’t live up to.
Defined by defining
The past year has had plenty of talk about defining marriage: whether explaining and contending for what the bible terms it, or what society terms it. We’ve grieved, ranted and debated brothers, co-workers, strangers, Facebook acquaintances to death on this topic (sometimes charitably, sometimes not). And we’ve had ample opportunity to have our say: no matter if imperfect, misconstrued, ridiculed or maligned.
However, there’s been less talk about defining marriage in another sense – to make clear the outline or form of an object. Just as that the earth’s shadow defines the shape of the moon in the night sky. Just as Christ’s self-giving love to the church defines God’s idea for marriage (Eph 5:31-32).
And this is the thing I’m scared about. Practically, I still have more work to do to better define true marriage, to better reflect the picture of Christ and His bride. Yes, I need to work on my unclear thinking and explanations about what marriage means, but I also need to work on my unclear life and example of what marriage looks like.
Do I clearly define marriage:
- by dying to myself and serving the other (like the suffering Servant)?
- by keeping the promise I made to my spouse (like the Promised One)?
- by seeking repentance and forgiveness (like the Lord who forgives)?
- by trying to understand and communicate with my spouse (like the Word of Life)?
- by striving to know and understand by spouse (like the One who knows all things)?
- by loving and shepherding my family (like the chief Shepherd)?
- by forsaking all other earthly relationships to cleave to my spouse (like the Rock of Ages, cleft for me)?
When people see I’m married, can they see a picture that defines the person and work of Christ?
Defined by realities
I’m afraid to say I fail most days at fulfilling the above list. If my standing in Christ was based solely on how well defined my marriage is, I’d have no standing. I’d be in outer darkness.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” (Eph 2:4-5)
So my identity, my hope is not in how well I define marriage. It’s in Christ, my Bridegroom, my advocate, my righteousness, my strength, my example.
So I’m empowered to keep going — until the day I die — to try and better define marriage for God’s glory, and my delight.
Vaughan Roberts (who himself struggles with same-sex attraction) reminds me:
“No one battle, of the many we face, however strongly, defines us, but our identity as Christians flows rather from our relationship with Christ.
All of us are sinners, and sexual sinners. But, if we have turned to Christ, we are new creations, redeemed from slavery to sin through our union with Christ in his death and raised with him by the Spirit to a new life of holiness, while we wait for a glorious future in his presence when he returns. These awesome realities define me and direct me to the kind of life I should live….
… like all Christians, I am a sinner saved by grace, called to live in the brokenness of a fallen world until Christ returns and brings all our battles to an end.”
No matter if the world keeps going in its marriage-defining work. I must continue to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength – and to love my neighbour – gay, straight, bisexual – as myself.
And I must keep going in my marriage-defining work — picturing the gospel of Christ — that a Sovereign, loving God calls and empowers me to proclaim by both my words and my life.
More opinion (if you can handle it!!):
One giant leap for equality? – Pete Collier
Marriage equality (an apologetic) – Rhett Snell
What I Would Have Said – Geoff Robson, who says: “…I commit myself to treating you and your communities with love and respect, even as I oppose this bill.”
How to relate to a gay relative – John Piper (only because it’s personally relevant)