The goal of these essays and what I am hoping to demonstrate with them, is that the Christian worldview should and will put the Christian in an unenviable position, one that is increasingly viewed as strange, phobic, or mean. I am hoping that the reader will understand that this is just a minimal framework of non-negotiables, i.e. the smallest costs to bear in the name of Christ. Furthermore, I am hopeful that a Christian will appreciate that the Christian worldview is not just a list of do’s and don’ts, but more a way of understanding reality itself and the path to a better world.
So far, we have talked about the need to hold fast to Scripture as the authoritative Word of God, the monarchical Lordship of God, and understanding the proper roles of the Law and Gospel. We now turn to marriage and family which, these days, must also include a word on gender.
God’s Original Plan
While I suppose much could be said on the topic, and much ecclesiastical blood has been spilled in the past two decades, the truth is that when it comes to the topic of marriage and family it is an open-and-shut issue for the Christian. And lest we put anyone on the defensive, a Christian does not need to automatically jump to the “negative” texts that speak on acts of vice like Leviticus 18, 1 Corinthians 6, or Jude to prove this issue.
The best place to build a positive case is at the beginning. Here, in two simple verses, God in his mercy has stated in a modicum of words the basic Christian worldview on the topic,
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them,‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:27-28, ESV)
To be fair, it is not only men and women who are to be fruitful and multiply; but all of creation is to fulfill this command. In case you are wondering (or have been taught otherwise) what the mechanics of fulfilling this command are, well, in all of creation, it requires males and females. They mate or breed or spawn or seed or fertilize or some combination of those acts to produce offspring. I get that earthworms and sea horses may have some clever tricks to get around this basic protocol, but for everything from corn to chickens to people, all of God’s creation participates in that creation utilizing the unique contributions of both male and female.
The Divinely Ordained Order of Life
“To be fruitful and to multiply” and to “have dominion” are God’s very first command to humanity, so I would think that would give it some kind of priority, no? Some have compared this to the Great Commission in Matthew 28 when Jesus tells his disciples to go out into the world to make disciples and to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. There is actually quite a bit of thematic overlap: in each case more are made and order is brought to bear.
Procreation is our most intimate way of understanding the creative, life-giving nature of God. To reject the way you have been created and this primitive mandate is an affront to God. It is a denial that the way God has made you, as either male and female, was a good thing and was done for the purpose of bearing fruit. This is precisely why the Bible, across both Testaments, consistently speaks to same-gender sexual acts as not only sinful, but as an “abomination” (Leviticus 18) and a “dishonorable passion” (Romans 1). These are strong words that are the result of rejecting a positive, life-giving command that could not be more basic or fundamental to life itself.
Jesus, of course, is favorable to Genesis. When asked about divorce, he quotes from Genesis 1 and 2,
“In 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?’” (Matt 19:4)
And lest anyone attempt to argue that Jesus had no thoughts on sexual immoralities, consider his words earlier in the same gospel: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matt 15:19) The Greek word for “sexuality immorality” is porneia and while it is not limited to same-gender sex acts, it would have certainly included them.
Paul’s teaching in Romans 1 is also critical on this issue, for it not only involves voluntary relations between women, but it lists these kinds of sex acts as primary examples of idolatry and rebellion,
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:22-23;26-27, ESV)
This is not about orientation, temple practices, power dynamics among Greek men, or Paul being a closeted gay. (Yes, he is frequently accused of being a self-loathing sodomite.) This is about rebelling against the divinely established order which God built into every aspect of the creation and which corresponds to His primitive command to “be fruitful and multiply.” It is, in short, a perversion, and the Christian worldview has never tolerated it, much less defended it.
What God has Enjoined, Let Us Uphold
What God wants for us is quite simple: to know the joy of mutual respect, absolute commitment, and the hope as found in our offspring. In faithful marriage, we find companionship, fulfillment, and a true partner to build a local civilization over which we have shared dominion. Of course, marriage is difficult as two different kinds of people - men and women - compliment one another instead of being a narcissistic mirror. And yet, it is only in marriage that we can fulfill the very first of God’s commands, all the way back at the beginning of creation.
So instead of just focusing on the negative texts and the current controversies that questions of marriage and sexuality often elicit, we should recall that the positive teaching as found in Genesis 1 not only speaks to modern disagreements, but fundamental meaning and purpose. Any deviation from the plain words of Genesis can simply not be called Christian, and therefore, is foreign to the Christian worldview.