By Dr Earl W. Duncan
Original Twitter thread from 17 Jan to 18 Jan 2019:
This Twitter thread started out by Dr Ken Ham positing the question: “How long before faithful, Bible-believing Christians are arrested in the name of hate speech for preaching God’s Word?” Persecution against Christians is on the rise in the West as the left can no longer contain their hatred for Christians simply for stating basic, scientific facts, such as that there are only two genders, male and female, and that marriage is between a man and a woman. Twitter user Jerry Pud (@harleypuddy) replies:
Preaching is one thing, actively trying to stop it or discriminating against someone… is illegal. You are going to blur the two to prove your point.
Jerry’s ambiguous use of the pronoun ‘it’ is confusing, but subsequent tweets reveals that he is referring to same-sex marriage. In his view, Christians should be able to preach against same-sex marriage (presumably, only to the converted), but prohibited from telling non-believers who support same-sex marriage that it is immoral. In some states and countries, these actions may be illegal, but it ought to be preached nonetheless, for God’s laws are higher than man’s laws, and this world needs to hear the truth, even if they hate it and do everything in their power to destroy Christians willing to make that stand. However, what about the morality of same-sex marriage?
I am asking why gay marriage is immoral.
Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that it is a human right, and anyone who opposed it is an uncaring bigot. There are two major problems with this view. First, it is utterly untrue – most Christians actually care a lot about homosexuals, enough to risk their lives in trying to lead them away from a life of punishment. When we rebel against God’s created order (marriage between 1 man and 1 women), God often leaves us to face the consequences of that sin (Romans 1:24-27). That sin, which may bring satisfaction initially, will ultimately bring pain, suffering, shame, and death. True Christians believe in loving the sinner, but not the sin. Second, this view ignores authority – who has the authority to define marriage, and who decides what is moral? Clearly not mankind. In the past, and even in some places today, homosexuality is considered illegal and immoral, notably in the Muslim regions of world. So how can some men claim it is immoral and illegal, and other men claim it is not? Clearly, one group must be wrong. Yet neither group will admit it. Clearly man is incapable of deciding what is moral or not if left to his own devices. Yet man does have an innate sense of right and wrong. For example, all sane people agree that murder is immoral. But what about marriage?
Jerry and another Twitter user, David Hanselman (@david_hanselman), respond with similar but notably different answers. David suggests the state defines marriage, while Jerry suggests that society does. If it was up to society, we would have at least 20 different definitions of marriage. Some people support polygamy, other do not. Some support same-sex marriage, others do not. How can we judge who is right and who is wrong? Perhaps we could let the supreme court decide, but even they are influenced by their own values, beliefs, and culture, which would lead to different definitions in different societies. Similarly, if the government defines marriage as David suggests, then why are there different definitions in different countries?
However, David’s is not far from the truth – governments do have a responsibility, not to define marriage as they see fit, but to uphold the definition of marriage, as dictated by God in Genesis. Theologian Professor Wayne Grudem explains:
“The definition of marriage as a lifelong faithful union between one man and one woman, as found in the Bible, provides a moral standard in which God tells us what is right to do. Defining and regulating and protecting marriage as this kind of institutions is thus something that is morally right in God’s eyes. It is not merely something that brings benefits to society, but also something that a society should do, according to God’s own definition of right and wrong as given in the Bible. …Only a civil government is able to define a standard of what constitutes a marriage for a whole nation or whole society” (Grudem 2010, 221-2).
So civil government should define marriage as God defines marriage, and regulate marriage for the benefit of society. It is not simply the right thing to do, it is beneficial. This should be a great motivation for governments to uphold the only true definition of marriage. All of society benefits, but most notably children.
“Without a governmentally established standard of what constitutes marriage, the result will be a proliferation of children born in relationships of incest and polygamy as well as in many temporary relationships without commitment, and many children born with no one having a legal obligation to care for them” (Grudem 2010, 222).
The fact is, children benefit greatly from having a mum and a dad. As loving as a same-sex couple may think they are, they cannot adequately emulate a healthy, stable family environment, let alone procreate in the first place. And heterosexual couples are much more likely to stay together compared to homosexual couples. Children that grow up in a stable home with a mum and dad are generally better disciplined, have higher self-esteem, and form good relationships. This in turn benefits the rest of society – teachers have an easier time teaching, employers find employees with good social skills and high moral values, crime rates drop, and the government doesn’t need to spend so much money addressing poverty, domestic violence, and homelessness. This is another reason why those who oppose same-sex marriage are in fact more caring than those who support it – we care about the children, who have no voice in the debate, and yet are most disadvantaged by same-sex marriage.
As I point out to Jerry, there are many other relationships that would be extremely harmful, especially to children, if the marriage of definition was extended to include them. This includes child brides, polygamous relationships, incestial relationships, forced marriage, and the list goes on. Hence by upholding God’s definition of marriage, the government is protecting and benefitting society.
So if murder is immoral why did [G]od do it? Doesn’t that make [G]od immoral?
God has not, and never will, commit murder. He can’t. It’s against His nature, and God cannot do anything against His nature. He cannot lie, He cannot steal, He cannot cheat—He cannot sin. Murder is, by God’s standards, immoral and a sin. It is stupid to think that God could be immoral, when it is He who defines immorality.
Jerry insists that by drowning people in the great flood (Genesis 7), God murdered them. As I point out to Jerry, murder and killing are not synonymous. Murder is one very specific form of killing. Unlike murder; killing is not necessarily immoral. A police officer who shoots and kills a criminal to save the lives of citizens is not committing murder – he/she is doing his/her job in keeping the peace and bringing justice. Similarly, a soldier who kills enemy soldiers is not committing murder, providing it is carried out within the conventional rules of war. Manslaughter, the killing of another human being accidentally, is also not murder, even though it is treated as a crime.
Grudem, W. 2010. Politics according to the Bible: A comprehensive resource for understanding modern political issues in light of scripture. Michigan: Zondervan.