Conventional Thinking: Show and tell
President Obama sent shock waves through the nation when he recently announced his support for so-called same-sex “marriage” on a television broadcast of “Good Morning America.” He had previously shown a reluctance to publicly support that position, yet the White House Administration now reports that his view on the subject has “evolved” (a fitting term, as some have pointed out).
His announcement came as North Carolinians voted to uphold the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. In the days that have followed, marriage has been at the forefront of public conversation. As biblical Christians, Baptists of course hold to the historic definition of marriage. We do not need to quote Article 18 of the Baptist Faith & Message for us to establish where Baptists stand on marriage and the family. Our position is well-known on the issue.
While it is very valuable to contend for our viewpoint in the public debate, I sometimes wonder if an even louder statement from Christians could be made for marriage if we would show—not only tell—the world what marriage ought to look like.
What do I mean? The statistics suggest our lives do not match our lips when it comes to marriage and family. For example, a recent Barna Group survey showed that while most adults do get married (four out of every five), and the numbers are even higher for Christians, fully one third of those surveyed have experienced at least one divorce. The numbers for born-again Christians is not markedly better.
Cohabitation is also on the rise. A 2008 LifeWay Research survey showed that “more people are living together today than they were back in the 1980s.” The numbers were high, even among professing Christians. Moreover, the pornography epidemic has not missed the church and is wreaking havoc on marriages.
The statistics and stories make it plain that the church is not living up to its own standards when it comes to marriage. This misalignment between our views and our actions is textbook hypocrisy.
What are we to do about this breakdown? Adrian Rogers used to say, “When all else fails, read the directions.” The Lord Jesus Himself spoke clearly on marriage.
“Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matt. 19:4-6)
Let’s help each other heed the words of Christ, spurring one another on to build strong, lasting marriages that honor God and bless each other. Together, we could encourage young people to get married and stay married, offering spiritual (and even financial) support. Let us love each other when we fall and always work toward restoration.
Christians must demonstrate the power of Christ in building, and maintaining, healthy marriages. While personal and public policy statements from U.S. Presidents are highly important, it should concern the Body of Christ more with what statements our lives are making. To a certain extent, we do not concern ourselves with the moral behavior of those outside the church and trends regarding so-called same-sex “marriage.”
The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians (certainly a church that knew what it was like to be surrounded by cultural darkness): “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Cor. 5:12-13).
As we contend for our biblical views in the public debate, I believe it is as important to consider the statement we are sending from our own lives. May the Lord help us to take heed, lest we also fall. May He help us to be motivated by love and want to take the speck out of our eyes so we may see more clearly to help others.