John Piper, the influential and wise Christian preacher, recently wrote an insightful blog post about the opportunity Minnesota voters will have in 2012 to define marriage as one man and one woman in their state constitution (Piper is pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis).
Here is one salient point from his post, urging us to use accurate terminology in defining marriage:
I don’t think we should use the term “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage.” I think in our everyday discourse, we should say “so-called gay marriage” or “so-called same sex marriage.” I would encourage politicians, pastors, and people to adopt this simple habit. The reason is that in God’s eyes, there simply is no such thing as so-called “gay marriage.” It does not exist. It cannot be made to exist by desires or decisions or language or laws. God ordained marriage with the words: “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Marriage is the union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant as husband and wife.
Piper then goes on to discuss how the Biblical theology of marriage should apply to human law and human societies, to protect and benefit everyone. Ultimately, there is really only one alternative to God’s design for marriage –that of societies abandoning a common and uniform definition of marriage and family, and instead allowing every person to do whatever they want to find self-fulfillment in the areas of sex, family and children. That may sound enlightened and liberating, but in actual practice, it is not. The consensus of human experience throughout the centuries shows that many people suffer tragically by the hands of individuals seeking their own personal sexual fulfillment absent significant societal restraint. In order to minimize human suffering and maximize human fulfillment, the Bible instructs all of us to have sex only within a marriage of one man and one woman in which both spouses commit to be sexually faithful to each other for life. There is no “separation of church and state” violation here, because a society that adopts the Biblical definition of marriage protects and benefits all people, just like the Bible’s prohibitions on stealing and lying protect and benefit everyone (not just Christians) in a society that adopts them. A good public policy idea is still a good idea, and is not “tainted” and constitutionally ”off limits” because it comes from the Bible.
John Piper’s entire post is worth reading. One additional note: John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist, is also spearheading efforts to help those devastated earlier this week by the destructive tornadoes that ripped through the northern part of Minneapolis, one of the poorer areas of the city. John Piper and the Christians he leads strive to implement all that the Bible teaches to help and love others, whether it is urging them to adopt the right definition of marriage or helping his neighbors who are suffering.