This question, “Why are Christians opposed to equality in marriage?” again shows the poisoned well thinking common in this culture and age. I’m tempted to give a quick, accurate answer to this, but it is such a loaded question, a quick answer will not address the errors implicit in this challenge which is fraught with many antibiblical assumptions. So, as Fräulein Maria tells the von Trapp children when they need to learn the basics, “Let’s start at the very beginning.” Let’s get the assumptions out in the open. We’ll start with definitions.
What is meant by “equality”?
What is meant by “marriage”?
Christians believe that everyone has the right to marry any eligible person of the opposite sex of marriageable age who will willingly marry the person in question. That is “equality” for all, but already I hear objections because clearly this definition imposes limitations. But having limitations does not mean there are “inequalities” because everyone is under the same limitations. It would only be “unequal” if some people were under restrictions and others were not, but that is not the case. Everyone is under the same restrictions. (Except for one case I’ll discuss below.) So let’s look at the restrictions.
Restrictions On Anyone Considering Marriage:
The person must be a legal adult. Christians do not condone child marriage. There are a number of reasons for that but, since I expect this is not the heart of the issue, I won’t go into them. I do want to be clear, however. Marriage is for adults since there are some people and societies where marrying children is condoned.
Some people make a mockery of marriage by claiming to marry something other than another person. That includes trees (see here), dolls (see here) or even themselves (see here). They may think it a big joke and funny, or perhaps they’re making a political statement. Whatever the case, in so doing they are mocking a very serious concept because it is the oldest institution and the foundation of society. No one who understands and respects the concept of marriage would do such things. In their folly and mockery they reveal more about their lack of morals and understanding of marriage than whatever else they’re trying to achieve. Once again I won’t spend much time here because it, likewise, is not the heart of the challenge.
Of the Opposite Sex:
Marriage is for adult people of the opposite sex. Now we get to the heart of the matter. Why do Christians insist marriage is only for people of the opposite sex? That gets into the need for the second definition: What is marriage? That is defined by the Creator in the instructional book he gave us – the Bible – in Genesis, chapter 2.
After creating the first man, Adam, God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals. Adam was clearly very intelligent to be able to complete such a task – creating suitable names. In the process he undoubtedly saw male and female pairs such as a male lion and a lioness. Yet the text tells us “But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” (Gen 2.20). God saw that it was “not good” for the man to be alone (Gen 2.18), therefore God rectified the situation:
21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Who did God make for Adam? We find the answer in verse 22. God made a woman and brought her to the man. This is why, during a wedding, the father walks the bride down the aisle and gives the bride away to the man. They are reenacting the first wedding.
Note the general rule given in verse 24: “For this reason …” Wait. What reason? In context it would be that the woman who was prepared and made from man, but created “delicate” or “tender” specifically for man, (which is no doubt an asset to her being a “suitable helper” (verse 18)) was created with marriage to man in mind.
Additionally woman was made specifically for man so the man would not be alone (Gen 2. 18). And, as the pairs Adam had seen while naming the animals, Adam, too, could produce offspring – godly offspring (Mal 2.15) to be specific – with the help of his “suitable helper.” Notice that another male would not be suitable for producing offspring.
So, for this reason (or reasons), the man (אִיש – “ish”) will be united to his wife (אִשָּה “ishsah” literally united to “his woman”). Hebrew is the language of the Old Testament, and, as in English, the word for woman in Hebrew is derived from the word for man. Just as woman was derived from man when God created her -showing she is of the same “stuff” and thus intrinsically equal in value to the man. Yet the man was created first, giving him the role of leader.
So, according to God, a marriage occurs when a man leaves the parents who raised him, to create a new family unit by uniting with, and binding to, a woman. Upon formal declaration, done usually at a ceremony, the woman then becomes his wife. The man is her husband. Once bound, they are “one flesh” (Gen 2.24) that God has joined together (Matt 19.6) and should not be separated (Matt 19.6) until death (1 Cor 7.39).
Now that we understand what marriage is, as designed by its creator, let’s return to the question: Why are Christians opposed to equality in marriage? It is clear that this question is really asking: Why are Christians opposed to men marrying men and women marrying women or any of the other distortions of marriage. Now you can see why. Just as you cannot have a married bachelor – because, by definition, bachelors are not married – you cannot have a “marriage” that does not consist solely of a man and a woman bound to each other in a formally declared act that God can bless. It is God who joins man and woman into “one flesh” in all weddings. Any other combination of people is not marriage. In addition to precluding all the variations of so called “gay” marriage, it also precludes multiple people in the marriage – three party “throuples” or any other combination of people. They simply do not fit the clear pattern God has given.
Further, “gay marriage” cannot produce offspring as God desires. They may use other means by involving a third party of the needed sex, but then they are not producing the offspring from the “one flesh”, are they? They’ve now gone outside the “marriage” and have joined to another, which is also outside the bounds of what God has given.
There are other restrictions on marriage such as both parties must be willing, and they must not be close relatives. Since these are peripheral issues that I don’t think were in mind when the question was posed, I won’t spend time on them here.
So now, let me give the quick answer to the question: Why are Christians opposed to equality in marriage? Answer: Christians are not opposed to equality in marriage. Any available man can marry any available woman (i.e. an adult human female, for those wondering what a woman is) who will have him. And vice versa. There’s no inequality in that. Everyone is subject to the same rules and restrictions, although there is one further restriction for Christians, which I alluded to above.
For God’s people the intended spouse must belong to the Lord (1 Cor 7.39) for reasons the apostle Paul explains in 2 Cor 6.14-16. This has been a restriction on God’s people going all the back to the giving of the Law (Deut 7.1-4) for essentially the same reason. That is a restriction specifically for God’s people. (Notice that the restriction is based on religious faith, not ethnic groups.) The general principle of marriage involving one man and one woman applies to all people.
- Marriage was created and defined by God. (Gen 2.20-24)
- Marriage consists of an adult male being joined by God for life to an adult female (Matt 19.6).
- The purposes of marriage are companionship and procreation.
- There is no such thing as “gay marriage”, just as there is no such thing as a square circle or a married bachelor. All three are contradictions in terms and thus nonsensical.
- Since God created marriage, man has no right to change what God has ordained, whether by legislative, judicial or even ecclesiastical actions.
- Those who claim Christians are opposed to equality in marriage, because of our refusal to accept anything but biblical marriage, are demonstrating a profound disregard for language, God, marriage and the created moral order that has been clear and followed for the past 6,000 years.
1. Rydelnik and Vanlaningham argue that the word in 1 Pet 3.7 describing women typically translated “weaker” is better translated “delicate” or “tender”.
The Moody Bible Commentary, Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014, Kindle Edition, Loc 1271
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