Having said that, I do not always rejoice at how we won. Too often these debates, feed by a culture of victimization in our walls and an antagonistic media eager for a story, become part of the “culture wars.” Let me say this – when we view our responsibilities as Christian citizens as being part of a war, we have already lost.
Make no mistake, we are in a war, but it is not with the gay couple living down the street or the divorced mom next door. Ephesians 6:12 makes it clear who our enemy is and where our war is fought. It is a spiritual war fought against spiritual enemies.
|Photo from RGBstock.com by Sanja Gjenero|
This warfare mindset and this minimization of every issue down to a political one, is why many younger evangelicals, like myself, who grew up under the influence of the Religious Right have become so disenfranchised with politics as a whole. So many seek shelter from the every raging political storms. One day it’s gay marriage. The next is stores not saying “Merry Christmas.” In the end our pulpits are guided less and less by the Bible and more and more by the talking points of FOX News and the Republican Party.
This is not to say that Christians cannot be involved in politics. We should be involved in politics, but we should not be a voting bloc that is poked and stirred up by a political party. This generation it is primarily the Republicans. The previous generation it was the Democrats. It will change again and it should change. Not because change is good in and of itself, but because we vote and are involved in politics based on biblical principles not party affiliation. When parties leave our principles (and they will), we should leave that party.
To the discussion over marriage, we must recognize that we have surrendered much of our ability to speak confidently and persuasively on these issues because we have ignored the sin in our own midsts far too long. Particularly as it concerns gay individuals, we have treated them as the Pharisees treated lepers, not as Christ did.
Recognizing this, I assert that marriage has not been saved because one state or 50 states pass an amendment to define it as being between one man and one woman. Let me tell you, when I believe marriage will be saved.
Marriage will be saved when the divorce rate in our churches is zero. Young Christian couples will solemnly undertake the journey of marriage, understanding that it is difficult and it does not match the bubbly sentiments expressed in a pop song. It will be difficult, quite possible the hardest thing they’ll ever do, but it will be worth it.
Marriage will be saved when Christian men, and women to a much lesser degree, put away the pornography and start having eyes only for their wife, whether they know her yet or not. A recent study found four major NC cities in the top 50 American cities in porn consumption, including two in the top 5: Raleigh (4), Charlotte (5), Durham (22) and Greensboro (44). It is hard for me to see marriage on a firm foundation in North Carolina, when so many of our men are seeing things they shouldn’t see.
Marriage will be saved when unmarried Christians recognize the value of chastity and seek to guard their hearts for their Savior and their future spouse. They will see it, not as restricting their fun, but as providing safe guards for their future.
Marriage will be saved when Christian spouses affirm with their words and their actions the beauty of the love that exists between themselves and their spouse. Adultery will be a forgotten word among those that claim the name of Christ. Pastors will no longer be forced to resign after cheating on their wife with a secretary, church member, neighbor or anyone else. Christians will mean it when they pledge their love to one another in marriage until death parts them.
Marriage will be saved when the consistent lifestyles of those in the pews reflect the the lifestyle of the One in the Word, they claim to follow. We cannot preach sanctity of marriage and live our lives in a way that brings about the subversion of marriage. But that is not all it will take to save marriage.
Marriage will be saved when divorced individuals see the church not as a place to be condemned, but as a place to escape condemnation. They will know that the church wants to reduce the number of divorces, but not rid our pews of divorced people. They will come to our doors and inside our doors because they know they will receive love and help, not glares and judgment. They will know that we support marriage, but we love them.
Marriage will be saved when gay individuals, both inside and outside of the church, know that they are loved by Christ and His church. They will be able to accept our position because they have received our love. They may still disagree with us, but at least they will know that we hold our positions in a stance of love, not of war.
Marriage will be saved when divorced individuals and gay couples see the marriages of Christians and they want what we have. Not government benefits, tax breaks or insurance, but the depth of love and commitment that can only be found in honoring Christ with all that we do.
Marriage will be saved when the culture at large knows that Christians truly believe what we say we believe. They can look at our lives and say, “I don’t always agree with them, but if something goes wrong, I want them in my life.” When the culture comes to the Church because it wants to change, not the other way around, marriage will be saved.
Marriage will be saved when Christians start acting like they are.