One Man and One Woman: The Created Order and the Problem of Same-Sex Marriage
The debate and tension over homosexuality has reached new levels in our modern society. After decades of work by activists, the governmental approval of same-sex marriage looks to be in the near future, and many feel will soon become a constitutional right for the homosexual community. Unfortunately, the Church itself has lost some in the winds of cultural change, and appears will lose many more if same-sex marriage becomes a constitutional right. With so much cultural change occurring, it has forced us to ask the hard question: is same-sex marriage wrong?
Same-sex marriage is fallacious based on its inability to fulfill the three main purposes of marriage as revealed in the created order. In looking at a small selection of verses from Genesis 1 and 2, we see that God designed marriage for one man and one woman to join together in a union for the purposes of procreation, complementarity, and reflection of the image of God. Though many on the other side of the debate may be dismissive of any argument constructed mostly from the Bible, Christians should uphold the priority of the biblical witness in this debate. We must also remember that simply because unbelievers discredit our use of the Bible as a foundation for our view, this does not invalidate the foundation of Scripture as a platform for argumentation. As one author puts it, “If Scripture is the norm that is not normed by any other norm, then we cannot set homosexuality aside as an issue of moral indifference.”
MARRIAGE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROCREATION
From the beginning of Genesis, we see that God had an intended purpose for his creation. He wasn’t like a child playing with Play- Doh, molding the clay based on a creative whim; he was the omnipotent Creator who had very specific reasons and purposes for his Creation, especially for the human race. We see in Genesis 1:27-28, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.” It is evident that one major purpose of marriage is procreation. God made man and woman to join in marriage in order to carry out this goal. Kevin DeYoung rightly asserts, “[Only] two persons of the opposite sex can fulfill the procreative purposes of marriage.” Same-sex couples cannot fulfill this procreative purpose given by God.
Even though procreation is an important purpose of marriage it is not the only purpose. Sam Allberry writes, “Procreation is not the sole purpose of marriage (those unable to have children are no less married because of that), but it is clear that procreation is intended to be rooted in marriage.” Elevating procreation as the sole purpose actually harms marriages, making the validity of marriage based solely on the ability to have children. Stephen F. Noll writes, “It was an error of earlier ‘natural law’ teaching to see procreation as the obvious essence of marriage, thus making the marital relationship and act instrumental to the end of procreation.” While it is important to remember that procreation is not the sole purpose of marriage, it is a core facet. There is no refuting the fact that — biologically speaking — men and women are hard-wired for procreation through heterosexual marriages. However, if evangelicals wield the “procreation argument” as their primary argument, they must practice it in their own marriages.
MARRIAGE FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPLEMENTARITY
The second purpose of marriage established in the creative order is the complementarity of a man and a woman. Thomas Schmidt asserts, “[Male] and female are necessary counterparts.” In Genesis 2:18 reveals, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” When God created woman, he created another human who would complement the man in many ways. Schmidt writes, “The Genesis narrative affirms that male and female are different in correspondence to one another such that their union constitutes a completion.” This complementarity is not merely physical, but can only be achieved by humbling seeking union with one’s spouse (of the opposite gender).
In a discussion regarding the complementary nature of heterosexual marriage, one must address the reciprocal sexual desire that men have for women and that women have for men. Our sexual desire was created by God — more specifically — it was created to be enjoyed and expressed in a heterosexual relationship. In Genesis 2:23-24, the man saw his wife and desired her because she was different from the animals and different than he; there was a clear desire for a being that was a complement to him. This sexual desire between a man and a woman is what bonds them together and connects them intimately together to form one union. DeYoung calls this is a “reunion.” It is a reunion because the woman was made from man to be his complement. Sexuality and sexual union between a man and a woman is more than just fulfillment of sexual desire, it is something that unites us with our spouse and with God. Kathy Rudy writes, “Undergirding complementarity is the idea that God intends men and women to unite sexually, and that such sexual unions bring the couple into a sense of wholeness and closeness to God.” Rudy goes on to say, “Complementarity also leads to direct criticism of homosexuality. If male and female together signifies relationship with God and salvation, homosexuality becomes a symbol of everything the Christian is not.”
MARRIAGE FOR THE PURPOSE OF REFLECTING THE IMAGE OF GOD
Finally, we can see from the created order that God designed man and woman to be joined together in marriage with the purpose of reflecting His image. Genesis 1:27-28a says, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them.” Man and woman were created to join together in marriage to mirror the Triune God. Erwin Lutzer writes, “Marriage brings a unity that is unlike anything else on this earth; indeed, it represents a unity found only in heaven — in God Himself !” The Trinitarian God of the Bible, who has revealed Himself as three persons in one being, is the God who created man and woman to bear offspring. This familial unit, created by God, is the only way to express the profundity of the Trinity in a creaturely way. A same-sex marriage does not have the capability to reflect the unity and diversity inherent in the Trinity. A same-sex marriage would simply model a reflection of a unitarian God — a God of unity in similarity. Only in a heterosexual marriage can the purpose of reflecting the image of the Trinitarian God be fulfilled.
Same-sex marriage violates the created order intended by God in the creation accounts of Genesis. For that reason, those wishing to affirm the veracity and consistency of Scripture, can only logically affirm marriage defined as between one man and one woman. Various texts from Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that God created marriage as an institution of a man and a woman to fulfill the purposes of procreation, complementarity, and reflecting the image of the Triune God. First, we saw that from a biological standpoint God created marriage for the purpose of procreation. Same-sex marriages are incapable of producing children on their own, which leads us to reject this union between two people of the same sex. Secondly, complementarity should be considered as a primary facet of marriage. The creation account shows that God intended to create Eve as a “suitable helper” for Adam. This simple declaration of God reveals that the animals were not “suitable” and another man was not “suitable” for Adam. Both of these together reveal that there is some sort of fulfillment that belongs to the role of women, not just in the physical sense, but in all senses, and vice versa. The final purpose of marriage, as it was originally created, is to reflect the image of the Triune God. Same-sex marriage cannot reflect the unity in diversity of the Trinity, which means that it cannot properly fulfill its purpose of reflecting the image of God. This can only be done through the creation of the familial unit of a husband, a wife, and their offspring.
Though the winds of culture are drastically tossing about many in the Church, no matter what the courts rule, we must stand firm in our defense of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. This was God’s original design and purpose, and we should humbly reflect that design and purpose in the life of the Church.