Sloganeering and Homosexual Marriage

Sloganeering is not generally a persuasive form of argument: “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” Has any American across the cultural divide from conservative Christianity ever changed his mind after reading that on a billboard or poster?

Somehow I doubt it. A slogan is a way of shouting at others, not a genuine effort at moving them toward the right position. And yet it’s a pity, because that particular slogan encapsulates what is the most important argument I know of in this non-debate: God’s design ought to be viewed as authoritative in public debates over morality.

Jesus’ re-affirmation of that passage is also very important. Look how often Jesus Himself appeals to God’s original design in this little exchange:

Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matt 19)

Jesus views God’s original design as authoritative. Paul also looks to creation for instruction on how marriage—and even the church—ought to function:

A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (1 Cor 11)

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (1 Tim 2)

The reasoning of Jesus and Paul wouldn’t make sense if the way God created things in Genesis didn’t hold authority.

But I’m burying the lede here, because for all the strength of this Genesis 1 argument in the homosexuality debate, I think I was lacking a key element of it. The Creation-Fall-Redemption (CFR), redemptive-historical, one-story schema makes it much stronger.

Without CFR you have the possibility of an is-ought fallacy. Only a liberal would say so, but Jesus and Paul might have been confused: just because the world was the way it was in the Garden of Eden doesn’t mean it ought to be that way. A liberal might say, “God created other potentialities for human sexual expression which He simply did not reveal to Adam and Eve.” Of course, a theological liberal doesn’t even believe that Adam and Eve existed as historical persons (a position I think our first parents would have found personally offensive) so he’s free to twist the story in any direction he can persuade others to take it.

But someone who reads the Bible as God’s servant rather than as God’s copy-editor can and must use CFR as a tool for his own theology—and for his public work of persuasion. That’s because the CFR paradigm recognizes that what God will make this world to be is all a reaffirmation of what he made it to be in the first place. Redemption is a restoration of God’s original plan: God intends “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (Col 1:20). Admittedly, Jesus said that people in heaven neither marry nor are given in marriage—but that appears to be because marriage is transcended into the reality it has always been picturing (the relationship of Christ to His church), not because it is set aside or abrogated.

“I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.” (Col 2:4)

 

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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