Periodically, the modern equivalent of the moneychangers Christ drove from the Temple set up shop in the marketplace of ideas, pushing some odd notion and finding isolated scriptures to support their point.
This past week, a trio of Iowa-based religious scholars published an op-ed, reminding readers that despite popular opinion, the Bible does not simply define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Turns out, their agenda item is to weigh in on the subject of marriage equality. While it may not expressly be the editorialists’ aim, the aim of many citing the editorial is clear: to use scripture to argue against the idea that homosexual marriage has any biblical opposition.
The citers’ argument is a bit roundabout, challenging the idea that the Bible teaches marriage is always a one man, one woman proposition. After successfully disputing that idea (and, I believe, they were successful), they, in effect argue that, since God does not limit marriage to one man and one woman, how can one conclude that He limits marriage to two people of opposite genders?
To support this assertion, they point out that the Bible does not condemn polygamy. Indeed it does not; rather, it teaches that those who would have leadership positions in the Church of Christ should have a monogamous marriage:
Titus 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach
1 Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Even those who would be recognized as widows were to have had a monogamous marriage, 1 Timothy 5:9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.
To be exact, the Bible does not say a man cannot have more than one wife, provided he is not seeking to serve in a leadership role. The writers also, and correctly, cite the polygamy of Abraham and David, whom God favored and blessed. They could have included Israel, Elkanah (the father of Samuel), Solomon (whose wives numbered in the hundreds), and others. The point of course is that polygamy is more of a social than a moral issue. That is a difficult assertion with which to disagree.
The editorial writers went on to state, among other things, that Jesus encouraged self-castration, using this verse:
Matthew 19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
Personally, I don’t quite see how stating what some have chosen to do, followed by saying, in effect, “If that’s you, then go for it; if not, then leave it alone”, qualifies as encouragement.
They also revive the worn, torn argument that the Bible teaches against interracial marriage:
Ezra 10:2-11 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. (3) Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. (4) Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it. (5) Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware. (6) Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away. (7) And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; (8) And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away. (9) Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain. (10) And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. (11) Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.
However, if that is the case, then why did God have no problem with the marriage of Joseph (to an Egyptian), or of Moses (to an Ethiopian)? Then there is Song of Solomon, the Bible book devoted to Solomon’s love for his black wife who was not a Hebrew. The idea that God had a problem with “race-mixing” is, therefore, illogical on its face. Recall, Paul’s words to those at Mar’s Hill:
Acts 17:24-26 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (25) Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; (26) And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation
If all men came from one man, indeed from one blood, then what “races” are there? Can there really be more than one race in the view of Him Who created all men from one man? The simple truth is that God’s prohibition against inter-marriage was not a matter of trying to keep races pure, but of trying to keep faith from being tainted:
Deuteronomy 7:3-4 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. (4) For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
So, playing the race card, when discussing marriage and the Bible, is more than a little intellectually dishonest.
The editorialists concede that it is not accurate to state that the Bible allows for homosexual marriage, and further conclude that the Bible is not hard over on marriage being a “one-on-one” proposition. Again, those two ideas are difficult to dispute. However, they end by warning against the use of “ancient texts” to regulate modern ethics and morals, when those texts “endorse” practices that most Christians would condemn today.
Of course, this is a nod to the idea that ethics and morals are man-created and, therefore, subject to human revision once the original documentation becomes old or out of fashion. And this opens the doors for those who would promote consensual sodomy as something with which the Bible has no problem or does not speak against. One of the editorialists is quoted as saying, “[Anyone who argues that] the Bible speaks plainly on one issue, especially something as complicated as marriage … haven’t take[n] the time to read all of it.”
How these learned men missed Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them, or:
Romans 1:25-28 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: (27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (28) And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient
The simple test of scriptural truth remains: if you take a position, concluding what the Bible represents on any issue, and that position fails to harmonize with all of scripture, then that position is not what the Bible teaches.
I personally believe heaven chuckles whenever the term “marriage equality” rises higher than the cloud layer, especially when used to validate the practice of homosexuality. However, that is because heaven is governed by the one who says, “I am the Lord. I change not…” Unfortunately, under the sun, there is a disturbing lack of resoluteness, which those who oppose God consistently seek to exploit – and every challenge resonates, to some degree, with some soul who is lukewarm toward God’s word.
This challenge is no different. The argument is, and remains, flawed, hilariously so, yet it will sway some from a steadfast position to a more “enlightened” point of view…which is why it will be used again. Can only hope the Lord returns before too many yield to arguments designed for itching ears.