(Re)Defining Marriage

I have to be honest.

I had no idea that this week was the big moment when people for and against same-sex marriage would be testifying in front of the US Supreme Court. I am busy with many things, including looking toward this weekend and my desire to create the most amazing and life-changing services for all the kids who will come to my church for Easter.

So when I noticed things popping on Facebook and Twitter, it surprised me.

And frankly, it still surprises me that no matter how you feel about whether marriage is defined by the government as “man and woman” or “same sex,” this is something that is consuming so much time and energy.

I know that some people feel that the same sex marriage issue is as important as the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. I also know some people who feel that this issue is an attack on Christian values. Maybe some people just want to get the same legal protections that traditional marriage gets–and maybe they have an agenda they are trying to push. Maybe some people feel this is one more way for the state to strip traditional moral values from a country that was founded on them and react accordingly–or maybe they really are just jerks.

I don’t know.

But I do know that no matter what the supreme court justices decide, marriage won’t be destroyed because it is redefined by the state, anymore than prayer was destroyed when it was taken out of public schools or our coins will be ruined if they ever remove “In God We Trust.” Marriage was created by God, after all. Long before states or nations existed, He put the whole thing in motion with Adam and Eve. He created the institution of marriage at the dawn of time, and guess what? Whatever the state decides to call it or define it, it won’t change what God created.

If the state decided tomorrow to define apples as oranges, would that change the taste of the apple? Would it make the apple any less amazing or wonderful or anything else that God created it to have? Nope.

The orange might hope for a moment that if it’s defined as an apple, it will finally get everything the apple gets. It might get bobbed for at Halloween parties, and maybe someone will make carmel oranges. We might see a lot more oranges in Washington state, and we would have Orlets instead of Applets to go with our Cotlets.

But it won’t change the fundamental taste of the orange. An orange is an orange, no matter what I decide I want to define it as. It was created to be an orange. It will always have the flavor and texture of an orange. Even if it now wants to be called an apple.

What I’m saying is this: marriage between men and women (“traditional marriage”) isn’t going to stop being marriage just because it’s redefined by a group of imperfect people in a courtroom in Washington. And the relationships between gay couples aren’t going to suddenly be any different just because they get to use a different word to define their relationship and get better tax breaks or better rights at hospitals with their loved ones.

Getting myself worked up and angry over whether the gay people I know get to use the same word for their relationship that I get to use with my wife is not going to really do anything but harm my relationship with them, and in turn, ruin my witness for my Savior.

Sure, I may not particularly like it. But the truth is that I don’t think my marriage to my wife, the values and faith I am teaching my children, or even the God who I serve and call Lord, are threatened by two guys getting to say, in a legal and binding state-approved contract, that they’re married.

I know it’s tough. This issue is something people are very passionate about. I know it means there could come a time when I have to say to someone I care about, “I can’t perform your ceremony because my convictions as a Christian don’t let me.” It also means that some people I care about could be very disappointed in my post here because I didn’t call down in fire and brimstone on “those people.”

Let me be honest: I would love it if this whole discussion went away and marriage kept its traditional meaning. As a pastor and Christian I do believe that homosexuality is a sin. But I also believe that the people I know who are gay aren’t going to change their sexual orientation because I point out a Bible verse about it.

Getting in long Facebook arguments about why someone’s wrong and I’m right won’t change anything, and ultimately, I believe it’s God’s job to convict people of sin–not mine. My yelling at somebody won’t change their opinion. My not liking their pro-gay marriage Facebook profile picture–and putting up my own version with a cross on it–won’t change a person’s heart. It’s not going to make me a better Christian or a better father or a better pastor or a better friend or a better husband…

What will? If I keep my focus on the main thing: to live for Christ, to lift Him up, and to help others find the same relationship I have with Him. So regardless of how the justices decide marriage should be defined, it won’t change the fundamentals of the people who get to use the word. Gay or traditional, they are all couples who need to discover the message I’m working toward this weekend: God loves you. God went to the greatest lengths possible to prove that love to you.

And there is nothing greater than a relationship with Jesus, because that–and only that–will give your life the meaning and hope and peace and joy that you’ve been looking for.

That is something that not even the highest court in the United States can change the definition of.


  1. Thanks Duane. This is very much the way I feel and the most important thing that gets dropped in these debates, is that God is Love.

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