Last night, the Illinois state legislature voted to redefine marriage. It was presented as a broadening of the rights of marriage to include homosexual couples. It didn’t make marriage available, it redefined what the state considers marriage to be.
For Christians, churches and pastors this presents a quandry that we’re going to have to wade our way through. It will present some problems that we’re going to have to address ministerially. Here are some of my initial thoughts.
First and foremost, we have to understand that because the state changed it’s definition of marriage, we no longer perform state marriages. We are called to establish biblical-covenants between a man and a woman. Whether or not the state wants to recognize our covenant ceremonies is moot. Whether or not the state ever recognizes my signature on another state license is inconsequential. At some point, they may not. That’s okay, I serve the gospel, the Word of God and the commands of Christ.
Actually, at this point, the only reason for state recognition seems to be for the legal protection of children, especially if the marriage ends in divorce; or for other state benefits. Through this redefinition, the state has diminished marriage into being a simple legal contract between two individuals.
Second, we will need to have strong education of marriage for our children within the church community. We probably should have been doing this all along. But the truth is, our younger generation is accepting the homosexual lifestyle as a viable, acceptable norm. We can’t trust our culture, or even our laws to teach what is and what is moral, or life-promoting. Is this indoctrination? Yes, it is. And it is what government, entertainment and other media have been doing to kids for the past 50 years.
Third, we will need to have a redemptive path for those coming into the church who are currently in state-accepted homosexual relationships. We will have to define paths to repentance, faith and involvement in the community of faith.
It’s going to get a little more messy. People will come in our doors who have had no previous understanding of the Bible’s definition of marriage. It will be a challenge to hold to Scripture and a redemptive stance, offering people of all lifestyles the hope of the gospel of grace. And we’re going to have to step out and lead our congregations to hold back against the tide of relativism and walk the path of grace and truth.
What other big issues do you think we’re going to face? How will you keep a biblical definition of marriage and relate to a society that has redefined what marriage is? Do we need a new word, other than “marriage,” to describe what Christians are called to practice?