Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Confessing Marriage


The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689 has a clear statement on marriage
  1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. It is not lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.
  2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and for preventing uncleanness.
It might be considered strange that a statement on marriage was included in a confession of faith. You won't find anything on marriage in the Nicene Creed or the Definition of Chalcedon. But marriage is a theological matter. That was the case in the seventeenth century when the confession was originally drawn up. Back then the polemical context was the controversy between Roman Catholic teaching which held that marriage is a sacrament, and the Protestant view that marriage is a divine ordinance, but has no sacramental character. 

More fundamentally, marriage is a theological matter because according to Holy Scripture the institution was ordained by God as a special and exclusive union between a man and a woman, Genesis 2:21-25. God so created human beings that the male and female are sexually differentiated and yet compatible. Only the sexual union of a man and a woman is capable of producing life. The Bible teaches that marriage is the proper context for sexual intimacy and any deviation from that basic pattern is condemned in Scripture. 

Christian believers accept the prerogative of our Creator God to order the form of human relationships. We rejoice in the original goodness of God's creation that included the differentiation between male and female, made in his image. We note that the union of a man and a woman in marriage is modelled on the relationship between Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Marriage is a theological matter. The church is called to faithfully confess this divinely ordained institution, whether opinion polls are for us or against us.  

Christians would prefer not to have to focus so much time on this issue. Our main task is to proclaim a gospel of forgiveness and  life-transforming power to all people in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we cannot remain silent in the face of the proposed redefinition of marriage. As Martin Luther said,  "Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.” Holding fast to our confession involves opposing the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. If you have not already emailed your MP about this, may I suggest you do so now.      

See also Care's point-by-point rebuttal of the Government's 'mythbuster' on same-sex marriage, here

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