If you don’t think that gay “marriage” is a threat to marriage, then you need to read this. The New York Times reports on a study to be released next month that shows that many “married” homosexuals do not consider monogamy to be a central component of their “marriages.” These couples are open to multiple partners while only being “married” to one. Why is this? According to the report,
“Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage â€” one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.”
What is stunning here is that the report suggests that monogamy is not just a problem for gay “marriages,” but for the institution of marriage itself. In other words, they are saying that heterosexuals should also consider abandoning monogamous marriage. As one “expert” put it, “The traditional American marriage is in crisis, and we need insight. If innovation in marriage is going to occur, it will be spearheaded by homosexual marriages.”
The report goes on to interview heterosexuals in open marriages, and they claim as well that having sexual liasons outside of the marital bond has strengthened their marriages. One woman put it this way: “Our relationship got better. I slept better at night. My blood pressure went down.”
As Christians, what are we to make of a report like this? First, it should be no surprise that people are trying to introduce innovations into traditional marriage. Such perversions are not due merely to the rise of gay “marriage.” No-fault divorce, rampant heterosexual immorality, and the deconstruction of gender roles have played their part as well. But we should be careful not to miss the spiritual component in all of this. God intends the union of one man and one woman to be a picture of the gospelâ€”an enacted parable of Christ’s love for His bride (Gen 2:24; Eph 5:31-32). The world and the Devil hate this message and want to obliterate its depiction in marriage. To obliterate the message, one must obliterate marriage. The powers have marriage in their crosshairs, and they aim to do whatever they can to undermine the covenanted union of one man and one woman. One way to destroy something is to redefine it. In this case, the redefinition comes in the form of calling evil good, and good evil (Is 5:20).
Second, Christians must bear witness to the fact that we appeal to a higher authority on marriage. No doubt there are many “married” people who claim open marriages bring them great happiness. Sinners enjoy sin. So it should come as no surprise that this scientific study would indicate as much. But scientific studies reporting the relative happiness of persons in perverted relationships constitute no ground for understanding the nature and purpose of marriage. God created and thus defines marriage. For Christians, therefore, no scientific study can trump God’s word.
Third, our chief task as Christians is not so much to reform marriage, but to preach the gospel and call sinners to repentance. Where the gospel takes hold, we can be sure that the transformation of marriages is soon to follow. For this reason, our gospel-preaching must be accompanied by gospel-living. When unbelievers see Christian marriages in shambles, they encounter a stumbling block to the gospel. What that means is that individual Christians and churches must commit themselves to healthy marriages (as the Bible defines health). That means one man and one woman in covenanted union for life. Within that union, the world needs to see husbands who love their wives as Christ loved the church and women who follow the leadership of their husbands (Eph 5:22-33). And they need to see this kind of union as the happiest kind of union there is.
I don’t think Christians should worry about studies like the one quoted above. God’s kingdom will march on even if our culture goes in another direction. What should concern all of us, however, is when Christians and churches begin to look more like the culture than God’s kingdom. Let’s pray that God will make us a faithful counterculture in the midst of the culture for the sake of the culture.