Proposition 8 of California’s state constitution declares that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The amendment, which was passed in November 2008, effectively bans same-sex relationships from being given the title of “marriage” – a position that aligns with Scripture.
Prior to the establishment of the amendment, the California Supreme Court had ruled that homosexual couples had the “right to marry.” Proposition 8 grandfathered same-sex couples who had been “married” in the years prior to its effective date, but disallowed future “marriages.” The amendment was overturned in August 2010, and the constitutionality of Proposition 8 is currently being reviewed in the U.S. Supreme Court with the ruling expected to be released in late June.
There is also a case pending with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that does not recognize same-sex “marriage” for federal programs such as Social Security and income tax returns. Section 3 of this Act has recently been declared unconstitutional in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Gay rights activists are attempting to redefine an institution established by God, one which pictures His love for us in Christ; however, man does not have the ability to change what God has established - even if Proposition 8 were to be repealed and the Defense of Marriage Act declared to be unconstitutional. A true marriage is one that is covenanted in God’s eyes – one that He has designed.
In Genesis 2:18, God said “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (English Standard Version). God fashioned Eve, the first woman, to be Adam’s wife. She was fit for him, like no other creature on earth was – He had purposefully created woman to be man’s lifelong companion. “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man,” said Adam (Genesis 2:23b).
Our Creator made His intentions clear for their relationship, instituting marriage – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). He designed the union of a man and his wife to be God-glorifying and to produce fruit. God blessed the first couple in Genesis 1:28, saying “Be fruitful and multiply” – a command that can only be fulfilled by the union of a man and woman.
The Lord paints pictures throughout Scripture and in our lives to glorify His Son. In the Exodus, for example, He foreshadows His salvation through the Passover (see Exodus 12:1-13). Just as believers are saved by Jesus’ shed blood, so God spared the Israelites’ lives when they covered their doorposts with the blood of a spotless lamb.
God displayed His grace again through the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up on a cross, healing those who acknowledged their need for the Lord’s salvation (see Numbers 21:6-9). He paints yet another picture with matrimony – the eternal commitment of Christ (the Groom) to His Bride, the Church. Marriage was fashioned after Jesus’ covenant with His people, rescuing us from eternal separation from Him and calling us His own. God instructs husbands to love their wives the way that Christ loves the Church (see Ephesians 5:25-30); “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church,” says Paul in Ephesians 5:32.
Divorce grieves God – it destroys His picture. Jesus will never forsake His saints, because His covenant with us is sealed in His blood; so, too, ought marriage to last. The Scripture is filled with warnings against homosexual practice as well –not because God is trying to deprive us of good, but rather because He wants to lead us into the deepest joy. His commands do just that - C.S. Lewis said of our tendency to forget God’s wisdom, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses).
The Good News is that Jesus came to earth 2,000 years ago to endure the wrath of God for sin. All things can be forgiven for those who receive His grace (see Romans 5:6-11,17). John Piper hopes that many who are in same-sex relationships will come to the Lord - in a recent blog post, he says, “In the years to come, God will be merciful on thousands of those who have been damaged by the present moral madness of our culture. He will exalt Christ in the conversion of many who have lived in same-sex relationships. More complexities than we can imagine will be presented to us in the church.”
Piper lays out several ways the church can welcome and embrace those who have struggled with same-sex attraction. First, he says, we ought to rejoice that brothers and sisters are coming to faith in the Lord; next, we ought to pray for wisdom about how to handle the aftermath of same-sex unions and be ready to help graciously lead them in the way of righteousness. “Clarify that same-sex attraction is a brokenness that is part of humanity’s fallen condition, along with other emotional/psychological/physical desires, dispositions, and infirmities,” he says. “Explain that willful expressions of this brokenness through prohibited behaviors is what the Bible has in mind when it says, ‘Neither those who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.’ (1 Corinthians 6:10) … Help them see, therefore, that what the state has called a ‘marriage’ between them is not marriage. There is no such thing as ‘same-sex marriage’ in God’s eyes. Therefore, they are not married in the sight of God, regardless of how the state defines their relationship. Do not embrace the state’s prostitution of language by calling the former state ‘marriage’ or the ending of it ‘divorce,’” says Piper.
He ends his post with an exhortation to the church to help those who have walked away from same-sex relationships: “Don’t leave [them] on their own once a new life has been established. There will be many ongoing temptations and challenges for years to come. Seek to fold them into gospel-rich churches with seriously supportive relationships,” he says.