Archives For marriage

Ryan T. Anderson, co-author with Robert George and Sherif Gergis of the book, What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense (New York: Encounter, 2012), has distilled the major thesis of the book into a 12 page paper: “Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It.”

Here is the abstract:

Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage. The future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.

Here are my brief annotations on this book, from which this article is based:

This book contains a powerful and convincing argument in its instruction and defense of marriage between a man and a woman, and against Same-Sex Marriage, based on church tradition, natural law and the public good, i.e. not first and foremost on theological grounds. This makes their rationale one of the best “publicly accessible” defenses written for the contemporary discussion/debate.

This is an extremely valuable abbreviated summary of this excellent work, which I encourage you to read and, then, to forward on to others to read.

The Important Ministry of Chaplains

Greg Strand – February 26, 2013 2 Comments

With the incredible cultural shifts marked by the moral dominos falling, and with increasing speed, one of the first to feel these effects will be our Evangelical (including but not limited to the EFCA) military chaplains.

Roy Bebee, our EFCA Chaplains Endorsing Agent, recently responded to the question regarding “the effects of military chaplaincy should DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] be overturned by the courts.”

Roy explains why our Evangelical chaplains will be the first to feel the impact of these changes.

Because the military does not create its own religious ministries, the Armed Services depend on religious leadership from the churches and religious bodies of America. Chaplains are endorsed to serve through cooperative channels between the religious body, the Department of Defense’s Armed Forces Chaplains Board, and the respective service branch. Should the government normalize homosexual marriage, chaplains would be confronted with a difficult moral choice of choosing to serve their God or serve Caesar. Because of the high percentage of theologically conservative and biblically oriented chaplains within each military branch, the conflict will be real and a cause for great concern.

According to Roy, there are four key ways chaplains will be “adversely affected should DOMA be struck down.”

  1. Chaplains will be constrained in sharing their religious beliefs on marriage.
  2. Chaplains could face adverse discipline or have shortened careers if they remain true to their faith group’s teachings or personal convictions.
  3. Chaplains will face challenges related to heterosexual marriage counseling.
  4. Chaplains will face challenges related to their refusal to endorse homosexual relationships.

In conclusion, Roy, rightly, places his absolute trust in our sovereign God, but he also acknowledges that there will be a cost to being faithful.

We know that God is sovereign and that his work will not be thwarted, but the chaplain’s labor is going to be more challenging and precarious. The same will be true for all faithful believers in military leadership. . . . chaplains will be the first to decide whether their longtime Chaplains Corps motto of “cooperation without compromise” can stand the test of the impending court action.

Remember to pray for our EFCA (and Evangelical) chaplains!

This is a helpful discussion tip from Greg Koukl*, Founder and President of Stand to Reason, an apologetics ministry, about how to discuss “the most controversial issue of our time”: same-sex marriage. You will find that Koukl’s brief steps are also applicable for other controversial issues you must address. Please note: though Koukl is committed to the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, how he leads or uses it either directly or indirectly is determined by the audience to whom he is speaking. But even if he does not directly lead with the authority of the Bible with non-Christians, it still frames everything he believes, says and does in these discussions/debates.

Here are Koukl’s five “steps”:

First, I need to have a basic grasp of the issue itself.  I need to survey the thinking so I know “the lay of the land.”  How have others approached this question?  What objections have been raised?  How have the challenges been answered?  Are the answers good ones?  I’m not trying to be an expert here, just informed on the fundamentals of the controversy.

Second, I need to state the essence of the issue simply and clearly.  How would I sum up the core consideration, the hinge-pin concern, in unambiguous language?  The goal at this stage:  Simplify the issue.  Remove the distractions.  Since the same-sex marriage dispute pivots on the meaning of marriage, I simplified the issue this way: 

  • There are only two kinds of answers to the question, “What is marriage?” Either marriage has a fixed, natural purpose, or it does not. Either marriage is something particular, or it is nothing in particular and therefore anything we want to make it.

This step is critical. It gives me a starting point that cuts through the distractions and cuts to the chase immediately.

Third, I need to make my argument. How do I answer the basic issue?  What is my rationale?  Where is my evidence? Again, clarity is key here. I spend a lot of time working with the words, removing the ambiguities to make my case forcibly and persuasively.  Here is the basic view I defend in the key-card:

  • Marriage is a natural, long-term pairing between a man and a woman that is protected, privileged, and celebrated by culture because of the unique and vital role it plays in civilization: As a group, as a rule, and by nature, marriage relationships produce the next generation.

Then I carefully articulate my reasons, defending this view so that a fair-minded person will think, “I may not agree just yet, but those points make a lot of sense.”

Fourth, I need to answer objections.  These must be objections actually being raised and must be addressed reasonably and fairly, but with as much economy as possible.  If I get too wordy, the response will be harder for me to remember, and won’t have as much impact on others.  If I can work in simple, common-sense illustrations, all the better.

Finally, with cultural issues (as opposed to in-house, theological issues) I try to take an “external” approach.  I don’t base my argument on the Bible, but on a rationale that those outside Christianity can relate to, regardless of their attitude towards Scripture.

Yes, on this key-card I start with a quote from Jesus, but I do not appeal (directly) to Him as an authority.  I appeal, rather, to a common-sense observation He made.  I invoke an authority figure who is almost universally respected, but my rationale does not trade on any religious doctrine.  This makes my argument attractive to the largest audience.

Remember, I’m not coming up with all the content on my own. I don’t have to be inspired with clever responses or creative insights when people smarter than I have already done the heavy lifting.  Instead, I collect the good stuff and condense it into something handy that I can use.  With a little practice, you can do the same.

Koukl received his Masters in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology, serves as an adjunct professor in Christian apologetics at Biola University, and is the author of Tactics—A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009).

Samuel “Sammy” Rodriguez serves as the President of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).* As a response to President Obama’s approval of same-sex marriage, this group of believers reaffirmed the biblical truth  that marriage is between a man and a woman. He also calls for civility in our public discourse. He is clear that this position and response is a matter of faith, not of politics. And the position espoused below is, according to Rodriguez, the position of the majority of African Americans and Hispanics. The ongoing concern will be the implications of Obama’s position on public policies that will further undermine the biblical truth.

There is always more that could be said. In addition to stating strongly what one affirms, it could also be stated what is being denied. But within the limitations of this response (the way he frames the context), it is an excellent word affirming marriage between a man and a woman, which is contrary to President Obama’s pronouncement.**

I include the complete response below, “Hispanic Christian Support of The Biblical Definition of Marriage Is a Matter of Faith Not Politics”–

Will President Obama’s affirmation of same-sex marriage dilute his favorability in the Hispanic Christian community? How should Hispanic Evangelicals respond?  In order to answer the aforementioned queries, it’s important to understand the optic that guides our community.
 
First, as Christians we must stand committed to reconciling the vertical Imago Dei, the image of God in every human being with the horizontal Habitus Christus, the habits and actions of Christ. This requires a new narrative, an alternative discourse where we stand for truth without sacrificing civility.
 
It is within this context that we express our deep disappointment in President Obama’s change of position on the vitally important issue of marriage protection. Marriage has always been and should always remain the union of one man and one woman.
 
Even as we stand for traditional marriage, we affirm that the image of God lives in all human beings; black and white, rich and poor, straight and gay, conservative and liberal, citizen and undocumented.
 
Our challenge is to see the image of God in the suffering, the marginalized, the oppressed and the hurting. Our challenge is to see the image of God in every human being including those we disagree with. Our challenge is to see the image of God in those that oppose us.  Our challenge is to see the image of God even in those that persecute and slander us. Our challenge is to see the image of God in friend and foe, acquaintance and stranger, strong and weak, oppressor and liberator.
 
We believe this approach is Biblical not political. As Hispanic Evangelicals, we stand committed to advancing not the agenda of the donkey or the elephant but only the agenda of the Lamb. The agenda of Christ is one of righteousness and justice, sanctification and service, covenant and community, holiness and humility, conviction and compassion. It is this agenda that provides the moral imperative to defend biblical truth with love and civility.
 
While President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage does not reflect the sentiment of either the majority of African Americans or Hispanics and places him at odds with two segments of the electorate that celebrated his election in 2008, we must respond with both civility and conviction.
 
To Hispanics, our support of the biblical definition of marriage is not a matter of politics but a matter of faith. It is our faith that compels us to care for the poor and speak against injustice. It is our faith that prompts us as Hispanic evangelicals to speak out against bullying and against the persecution of gays and lesbians in third world countries. It is our Christian faith that requires us to uphold the biblical definition of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman.
 
To our community, supporting the traditional definition of marriage is not about being anti-anyone or anything.  We understand that a marriage with mom and dad in the home serves as the primary antidote against teen pregnancy, gang activity, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency and many social ills.
 
Hence, the great concern stemming out of the President’s declaration is whether or not he will pursue federal public policy initiatives that in essence redefine a sacred institution whose definition stems from natural law consistent with a Judeo-Christian Worldview. This is, of course, in addition to the recent HHS mandate that infringes on the first amendment rights of religious organizations.
 
At the end of day, Hispanics are both in support of biblical marriage and against homophobia. We desire that all Americans embrace life, enjoy liberty and pursue happiness; without exception.
 
Yet, we also desire for our elected officials to pursue policy initiatives that advance the common good, using language that brings us together rather than tear us apart. As the Scripture commands, we will pray for President Obama, for his family and for wisdom as he leads our nation.
 
We will also pray that the President will defend the religious liberties of Americans who, because of conscience and conviction, do not view this issue via the same lens he recently engaged.
 
Finally, we pray that his support of gay marriage does not exacerbate the growing intolerance of a Christian worldview, which is wholeheartedly embraced by a majority of the Hispanic community.
 

*NHCLC is the Hispanic Evangelical Association unifying, serving and representing the Hispanic Born Again Community via 41,118 member churches and over 16 million constituents by reconciling the vertical and horizontal of the Christian message through the 7 Directives of Life, Family, Great Commission, Stewardship, Justice, Education and Youth.

**Strands of Thought post originally shared via email in May 2012.

The sermon John Piper preached on June 16, 2012 (“Let Marriage Be Held in Honor” — Thinking Biblically About So-Called Same-Sex Marriage”), was referenced in an article by Rose French in the Star-Tribune: “Key Minnesota pastors opt out of marriage fight” (June 21, 2012)  The “key Minnesota pastors” were John Piper and Leith Anderson. Piper responds by pointing out that what French got right was that “I did not give a public endorsement for any legislation or candidate.” But, Piper points out, French got two key parts wrong:

First they say, “Key Minnesota pastors opt out of marriage fight.” I didn’t opt out. I opted in. What is at stake more than anything else is the meaning of marriage and how important it is for the common good and for the glory of Christ. That was the main burden of the message. Marriage is the sexual and covenantal union of a man and a woman pledging life-long allegiance to each other as husband and wife. There is no such thing as so-called same-sex “marriage.” That is clear in God’s word.

The second mistake is to say that I “have not encouraged members to take a stand on the issue.” That is, in fact, the opposite of what I was saying in the last two points of my message (points 7 and 8).

The aim of point 7 was to help our people know how to vote on the marriage amendment. The question for all of us is, Which of our beliefs about what is good for the common good should be put into constitutional law? I gave four guidelines. The aim of those guidelines was not to discourage our people from “taking a stand” but to help them take an intelligent one.

The aim of point 8 was that over the long haul Christians will take clearer, stronger, more effective stands for justice and righteousness and the common good if pastors and preachers speak powerfully and faithfully and biblically to the moral and spiritual and ethical and theological issues surrounding political issues, rather than advocating particular candidates and laws. I gave several historical illustrations of how this has worked.

Therefore, I encourage all Christians to think this through, and to take a stand, and to be as active in the political process on this issue as their conscience dictates.