by Justin Lonas
The cultural debate over the definition of marriage always heats up when elections roll around, and the 2006 midterms have proven to be no exception. In addition to candidates for office kicking the issue around as a campaign tool, eight states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin) are putting the issue directly to voters in the form of constitutional amendments protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman only.
In the wake of the repeated defeat of a federal marriage amendment in Congress, the states have taken it upon themselves to protect the values of their people. To date, 20 states have already passed amendments banning same-sex marriage, most by comfortable margins.
As Christians go to the polls next month to cast ballots for our values (and/or those who espouse them), we should know why we support what we do-we need to know the difference between standing for what we believe instead of simply against what we do not.
Other life issues on the ballot are fairly clear. Abortion is the killing of a human being created in the image of God, something no follower of Christ should ever condone. In essence, the marriage debate should fall into the same terminology, but seldom does.
It seems as though God created the institution of marriage to reflect His image. Jesus, ending the Pharisees' legalistic discussion about divorce in Mark 10:6-9, quotes God's original plan from Genesis and adds a little extra punch. He says, "But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate."
God wove into His creation two different expressions of His image-He created male and female human beings to more fully explain His nature to finite man. God is our provider and protector as surely as He is our comforter and nurturer. In marriage, we see an allusion to the Trinity-"one flesh" exercising together the different aspects of God's image. Marriage should be an earthly picture of the unity, harmony, and purpose that God has within Himself.
In addition, we are all familiar with God's choice of marriage to represent the way he relates to His children. Ephesians 5:22-33 lays out the extended metaphor-the incredible passion of a husband for his wife on their long-awaited wedding night is but a reflection of the ardor of Christ's love for us! Taking it a step further, the intimacy in a godly marriage that drives out sin and fear is held up as a picture of the process of sanctification that Christ works in us.
On the whole, marriage is designed by God to give Him honor and glory; it is part of the story of His nature and His plan for creation.
This is why the defense of marriage in the public sphere is important. Our rationale for voting in support of such amendments should follow from this. If we view such things negatively (as triumph over homosexuals) instead of positively (as a preservation of God's image on earth), are we really honoring the Lord as we should? The issue is about promoting God's design for love, not about promoting ourselves as better than those who oppose it (Romans 3:23 should remind us that we're no better than any other sinners-it is only by the grace of Christ's sacrifice that we are held clean).
As we speak with a common voice by voting on November 7, let's remember that it was Christ's forgiveness and not the Pharisees' condemnation that changed lives. We can stand for truth and condemn the institutionalization of sin without ceasing to extend the love and forgiveness of the Lord to individual sinners. Let's vote for marriage out of God's goodness in our hearts, and not out of spite for those who haven't discovered His grace.