Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a re-occurring conversation with several people. Not surprisingly, the topic of that conversation has been on my mind a good deal lately: Namely, the state of marriage in Iowa.
Let’s get two things straight before I begin: I have never been married before. And, in the future, I intend to make, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “entangling alliances with no one.” Hence, my views can only be based on indirect experience, and my understanding of the Scripture. At the same time, I have yet to hear a compelling, (Biblical or secular) argument to contradict these views.
In order to gain insight into the operation of a complex real-world system, engineers often make broad assumptions that minimize calculation. While these conjectures often ignore details and extreme cases, they can be a powerful tool in understanding the overall behavior of the system. This is what I’ve done in forming my current view of marriage. There will be minor exceptions to a few of the following ideas, but I believe they match very well on the whole with both the Bible and common sense:
Let all humankind be divided into two groups:
- Group A: Those who have chosen to reject Christ (Rom 3:23).
- Group B: Recipients of God’s free gift of salvation (Rom 3:24).
From even a cursory look at God’s Word, it’s clear that there are two completely different standards by which groups A and B are spiritually judged by God:
- Standard A: The standard of the Law: Since God cannot tolerate ANY sin (James 2:10), there is absolutely no hope (Matt 3:12, Rom 1:18-28) for those who do not receive supernatural cleansing from sin.
- Standard B: The standard of Christ: Once a person expresses faith in Christ’s ability to remove one’s sin, and commits his or her life to serving God, all of that person’s past, present, and future sin is erased (1 John 1:9). As a voluntary measure of love and gratitude for Christ, His followers are given the command and power to live life in accordance with God’s Word (1 John 1:6, Rom 6).
In keeping with these, let us assume two types of sin:
- Type A: Committed by an unbeliever. Without the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, sin wields great power over a person, which they are unable to overcome — hence the term “slaves to sin” (Rom 6:5-7).
- Type B: Committed by a believer. Since God’s children have the power to resist temptation (1 Cor 10:13) there is no excuse for a believer to willingly disobey God.
All this gives rise to the following proposition:
Salvation first, then life-change.
In light of Scripture, there is no question whether or not homosexuality is a sin. However, non-Christians who happen to be gay are in exactly the same spiritual state as non-Christians who happen to be devout Buddists. By the same token, a Christian can’t honestly call himself or herself a follower of Christ if he or she is knowingly involved in any sinful way of living. Whether this lifestyle is one of sin is gossip, hatefulness, or homosexuality, true believers will consistently steps to eventually “walk in the light”.
Thus, while there are moral absolutes, it makes no sense for the government to make laws which do not have clear secular benefit. Because they are indwelt with Christ, believers have no need of moral legislation. Conversely, there is no spiritual benefit (to Christians or non-Christians) to forcing unbelievers to be moral unbelievers.
There is a logical extension of this reasoning that implies that the legally-recognized institution of marriage (as opposed to the church-recognized institution) also makes no sense. But, that will have to wait until another day. 🙂