December 14, 2017

In Defense of Marriage

Rick Cross

This article originally appeared in 2004, some references are thus dated, but the topic is important and, unfortunately, too relevant in today’s world.

Marriage is the molecular structure of our civilization: it cannot be changed without destroying itself. Yet Christians are faced with an urgency to defend the Biblical definition of marriage under which our country has operated since its inception. The majority of people in our country desire to retain the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Recent pro-homosexual marriage advocates have sought to negate the will of the people and redefine marriage by use of the courts. “If we accept judicial supremacy on the marriage question, we will probably end up with a judicially created and approved national marriage definition that redefines the institution in unisex terms.”[1]

The federal constitutional amendment on marriage was an attempt to deal with an issue of which homosexual marriage is just a part. The question is not necessarily, “Shall we allow homosexual marriages?” but rather “Will we, as a nation, continue to be guided by the principles of a federated republic?” As a republic, we elect officials to represent us at a federal level. Will we continue to do this, or will we allow others to determine policy? We are discussing reconfiguring the foundation of our culture.

The attack on the Biblical definition of marriage should be no surprise. It is the logical result of major influences in our culture. The removal of Biblical code from the classrooms and the courtrooms caused some large cracks in the foundation of a strong nation. This fueled the concept that absolute truth was nonexistent. As a result, many today deny objective truth conclusions reached by either reason or divine revelation. If there is no absolute truth (the unchanging wisdom of God in Scripture), we are left to the only other alternative, the volatile wisdom of man. The logical progression is to exalt exclusive individualism—that is, the rights of the individual rise above everything else, including the voice of elected authorities, in establishing a moral and stable society. Without an objective standard of truth upon which to base society, the result is that persuasion will establish cultural directives.

A society is in great danger when it sets aside the Biblical concept of marriage. Today in Canada one cannot publicly criticize homosexuality. Because of a “hate crimes” law that includes sexual orientation, even the quoting of Scriptures that condemn homosexuality can be illegal. Similar “hate crimes” legislation in Sweden resulted in a pastor being sentenced to thirty days in jail for preaching a sermon in which he said homosexuality is wrong. In our country, the recently proposed Kennedy-Smith “hate crimes” bill would give protected status to the homosexual lifestyle. Logically, once marriage is redefined as something other than a heterosexual union, the institution itself loses its meaning, and there is nothing to stop further redefinition but personal preferences. Once the Biblical standard of oneman, one-woman marriage is broken, there are no brakes.

There are tools that informed Christians can employ to defend the Biblical concept of marriage in society. The American tradition of federalism allows individual states to adopt differing policies but maintain the overall principles stated in the Constitution. There have been some victories recently with states overriding activist judges who played loosely with the marriage laws. These victories have sent loud messages to other states that liberal pressures do not need to be controlling factors. It is possible for the Supreme Court to override state policy. However, state policy could be instrumental in forming a Supreme Court decision. As Robert Bork says, “One way or another, federalism is going to be overridden. The only question is whether the general rule will permit or prohibit marriage of same-sex couples.”[2]

Another way is to keep same-sex “marriage” from spreading via the migration of couples from state to state demanding recognition of their same-sex vows. “The stated intention of homosexual activist groups is to use marriages issued in Massachusetts to infect every other state by virtue of the U.S. Constitution’s ‘Full Faith and Credit’ clause. Therefore, in 1996, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defined marriage as being between one man and one woman in the eyes of the federal government and protected states from being forced to recognize policies of other states regarding same-sex couples.”[3] “However, . . . the greatest federal judicial threat to DOMA springs . . . from the Supreme Court’s evolving view of equal protection and personal liberty.”[4] Legislation has been introduced which would limit the federal courts’ ability to set a national precedent regarding marriage. The Marriage Protection Act removes jurisdiction from federal courts over issues pertaining to DOMA. “By implementing this legislative power, we can preserve each state’s traditional right to determine its own marriage policies without federal court interference.”[5]

Some are saying that the problem isn’t the Constitution but the judiciary, which has exceeded its legal boundaries. What’s the remedy? “The legislative and executive branches should simply treat judicial abuses of power as null and void and refuse to enforce them. After all, the other two branches are charged with defending the Constitution—and that doesn’t mean enforcing unconstitutional whims of the courts.”[6] “The legislative branch should also apply the ultimate sanction for abuses of power: removal from office. Grossly arrogant justices should be impeached.”[7] This seems like a simple answer. However, getting full commitments from officials to impeach a justice would be just as difficult as broad acceptance of a constitutional amendment. Many elected officials are afraid of negative political consequences.

The Federal Marriage Amendment at this writing has just been defeated in the House. Although it was not perfect, it would have stopped “all other efforts to redefine marriage on a national scale.”[8] There are still avenues available for individual states to pass marriage amendments. There are also Christian organizations that will be publicizing the names of politicians who voted against the FMA in an attempt to see them voted out of office and replaced with those who will defend marriage. Christians must support such efforts and let their voices be heard.

The United States government is unique in its principle of the “consent of the governed.” The second paragraph of the United States Declaration of Independence contains these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Our nation’s Founding Fathers knew very well what citizen life was like without a government that operated by “consent of the governed.” The previous experience of the colonists was a government where “innumerable measures, including taxes, were passed by the British Parliament, and the colonists had no input, no representatives to express their dissent, and no opportunity to do anything except obey the laws imposed upon them.”[9] “Consent of the governed” determines that “the people subject to the laws are the ones who should make the laws, especially the basic constitutional rules by which they are governed.”[10]

The founders never meant for federal courts to turn into judicial tyrannies. In fact, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers in 1788 that “‘The judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power.’ He added that the constitutional powers granted to legislative and executive branches were checks against judicial ‘misconstructions.’”[11] The homosexual marriage issue has found a growing number of federal courts becoming “judicial tyrants, overturning laws passed by state legislatures and Congress and legislating a radical liberal agenda. This is not the proper role of judges. Their role is to interpret laws, not create them.”[12]

It is not the mission of the believer to reform society through governmental policies. Our confidence for the future is not found in politicians. Our discipleship mandate is to be aggressive ambassadors for the cause of Jesus Christ. However, we do live in this culture and must be salt and light as we influence those around us for our Lord. Even if some of the above tools would be effective in restraining the unbiblical directives so discussed, “Christians face an uphill battle to change a culture that demands universal tolerance and promotes feel-good sexuality. You can try to kill a weed by cutting off the visible part. But until you’ve treated the root, the same problem will emerge later.”[13] The answer to these issues remains the proclaiming of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a spiritually dead population and the heart change that results from accepting the free gift of eternal life.

At the time of original publication, Rick Cross was pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Longmont, Colorado.

(Originally published in FrontLine • November/December 2004. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

  1. “Saving Marriage,” Joshua Baker and Maggie Gallagher, July 12, 2004. []
  2. “Stop Courts from Imposing Gay Marriage,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 7, 2001, A-14. []
  3. “DOMAWon’t Do It: Why the Constitution Must Be Amended to Save Marriage,” Professor Gerard Bradley, et al. []
  4. “Saving Marriage.” []
  5. “Protecting Marriage by Constraining the Courts,” U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, October 17, 2003. []
  6. “The Amendment Strategy,” Joseph Sobran, July 15, 2004. []
  7. “The Amendment Strategy.” []
  8. “Like It or Not . . . The Marriage Amendment Is the Democratic Way,” Senator Orrin G. Hatch []
  9. “The Jeffersonian Perspective: Majority Rule & Consent of the Governed,” Eyler Robert Coates Sr., 1996. []
  10. “Amendment Best Response.” []
  11. “Protecting Marriage.” []
  12. “It’s Time To End Judicial Tyranny,” Rev. Louis P. Sheldon. []
  13. “The Prohibition of Gay Marriage.” []

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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