Scripture is full of parables being used to make a point. Stories often help us see ourselves in a new light. Jesus’ parables did exactly that, so did Nathan’s parable to David (2 Samuel 12:1-14), who only recognized the gravity of his sin after he saw himself as the antagonist of a story.
Hopefully, if need be, some of us will have a “You are that man” moment at the end of this modern parable.
Once there was a man who loved to talk about how much he loved his pet dog. He would brag about how wonderful his dog was on Facebook … well, the dog he has now. The man had been through a lot of dogs.
Eventually, all his other dogs didn’t quite “feel right,” so he took them on a long drive and left them out in the woods somewhere. Each dog just stopped suiting the man. One had been such a cute puppy, but it wasn’t cute anymore. Another used to be really playful, then it got boring. His last one used to be calmer, but now it was too energetic. Oh, but he loved his dog now.
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Then one day another man came and said he had heard about how the man had gotten rid of all his other dogs and he was wondering if he could buy his current dog. “I don’t know about that,” said the man. “I really love this dog.”
The new man continued to offer more and more money for his dog, until finally the man was on the verge of relenting. “OK, you drive a hard bargain, but first tell me what you want to use my dog for.” “Well,” said the new man, “there is nothing I enjoy more than grilled dog meat.”
“What?!?” exclaimed the first man. “You want to eat my dog?!? There is no way I would ever agree to sell you my dog so you can eat him. We have developed such a close relationship. There is a special bond that exists between dog and owner.”
“I’m sorry,” said the other man. “I really didn’t think you mind.”
“Not mind?” said the dog owner. “How in the world would I not mind that you want to eat my dog? I told you the bond between owner and dog runs deep. I would never let you buy him now.”
“I see,” said the man attempting to buy the dog. “That’s OK. I’ll just wait.”
“Just wait? Didn’t you hear me,” said the dog owner. “I’ll never sell you my dog.”
“I know you won’t sell him to me,” said the other man, “so I’ll just wait for a few months until you become tired of this dog like you have all the others ones. I’ll follow you to the same place you have dropped off your other three dogs.”
“How do you know about that?” said the dog owner, suddenly flush.
“What do you think happened to all your other dogs?” said the other man. “I just wanted to see if I could get this dog from you a little sooner.”
Hopefully, that story hits a nerve – with what both men had been doing to the dogs. The only real difference between the two men in how they treated dogs was that one voiced some concern for the dog and the idea of a relationship between dog and owner.
Often times, this is how I see Christians treating marriage. Christians will vocalize a commitment to the institution, while many of us denigrate it with our actions.
Would redefining marriage be detrimental to the institution? Absolutely. But you can’t continually abuse a dog, while speaking out for animal rights. Well, technically you can, but you cannot do so apart from blatant hypocrisy and the negation of your supportive words.
This is not meant to be a lashing out at divorcees. God still loves you and can still use you, even in defense of marriage. But this is a call for humility among Christians, especially those that are survivors of broken marriages.
More than anything this is a plea to my generation of young married Christians and those who are coming behind us. We must live lives that are counter-cultural in terms of relationships and marriages. Once we begin to show our valuing of marriage in our personal lives, we can then move to the value of traditional marriage in our political lives.
While we fear there are those in culture who would desire to destroy marriage, we must recognize that our personal actions have the ability to build up or tear down the institution. Which one do you choose?
Tomorrow, I want to give two practical steps Christians can take to defend traditional marriage against common objections.