“Is samesex marriage Biblical?”
Before we jump in… Three things…
(1) Today’s Great Questions Answered post is a rewrite of a small ten-minutes presentation I made at 180 Student Ministry this past Wednesday evening. They’ve been in a couple series that have a Great Questions feel to them, so I’m going to be peppering in some of the questions they had submitted. So today’s question combines a few of theirs into one. Also, friendly reminder, high schoolers are invited to join us on Monday nights at Great Questions.
(2) There are many practical and pastoral questions associated with this question that we will not be answering here. We are very clearly and intentionally confining our question to whether the Bible allows for samesex marriage.
(3) When we ask if something is “biblical”, we are not merely asking if something is in the Bible. We are wanting to know what the Bible says about the question at hand and, usually, whether something is permissible. This is because, for Christians, the Bible is our standard–the authority for how we interpret reality. It is where God Himself tells us who we are, why we were created, and how to live with joy and purpose. At FCC we like to say that we don’t interpret the Bible so much as it interprets us! Don’t miss this important point. It is fundamentally important to understand the role Scripture plays in our lives, for its directives are determinative for how we live, regardless of how we think or feel. This question of authority is important to bring to the surface because, in our world, where from the cradle we are being subversively shaped into the pagan view that our individually-formed boutique philosophy is the only one that matters, there are times when orthodox Christian belief and the plain reading of Scripture will inevitably put us in direct conflict with the outside world, and in the case of this question, the Supreme Court of the United States. So, before we jump in… Remember that we who follow Christ are obligated to follow the Scriptures as our foundational authority for reality, even when it hurts.
Now… In order to answer our main question, “Is samesex marriage Biblical?”, we need to answer 4 questions, in this order:
- Why did God create humans?
- Why did God create marriage?
- Does the Bible say homosexual behavior/practice is sinful?
- Does samesex marriage fit with God’s purpose for humanity or marriage?
First… Why did God create humans?
In Genesis 1 it says that, when God created the world, before it became broken because of sin, it was “good” because it did what He created it to do–it was fruitful; it produced His goodness and revealed His glory. Notice how this is modeled throughout Genesis 1. God called His creation “good” when it did what He made it to do (“according to its kind”), producing as He commanded (“Let… there be light, an expanse, the waters be gathered, the earth sprout, etc…. And it was so.”) And then notice the same thing when humans were created, in Genesis 1:26-31. When it says we were created “in God’s image”, part of what that means is that we are given the responsibility to do what He did–to produce His goodness; to “be fruitful and multiply.” (The Hebrew terms for being made “in God’s image” imply we have delegated royal authority, from God, to steward His creation, and to hear from and talk to God, which are responsibilities unique to humanity.) … So, God created humans to produce God’s goodness and reveal His glory in ways that mirror what God has done in sharing His goodness and glory with us. (Parenthetical implication you need to not miss… What this means is that our self-conception–our understanding of who we are as humans–must derive from these God-ordained first principles and continue to be shaped by Scripture’s progressive application and refinement. Even though I’ve put this in parentheses, this is a big deal worth mentioning. … God tells us who we are and why He created us. Our self-conception most derive from God’s conception of us. To be truly human is to be truly who God says we are. Therein lies our value and purpose and joy.)
Second… Why did God create marriage?
Genesis 2:24 is some more detail of the creation of humans in Day 6 in Genesis 1 and it is intended to answer the issue raised in Genesis 1:26-31 of how humans are to ‘be fruitful and multiply’, at least in biological terms. It says, “Therefore, [Meaning for the purpose of being fruitful.] a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” … So, God created marriage as the biological means for supporting His plan to produce His goodness and glory in the world. While there’s much more that could be said here, this is enough for now.
Third… Does the Bible say homosexual behavior/practice is sinful?
Without time to defend all these, (which I’ve largely done in a few previous sermons), here are all the passages in Scripture that address homosexual behavior and practice, making clear God considers it sinful and worthy of condemnation as an undoing of God’s created order: Genesis 19:4-7 (cf. Jude 7); Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:18-32 (esp vv 26-27); and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:8-10. If you have 9-10 minutes, here is a decent summary defense of why these passages prohibit homosexual behavior and practice by a man named Sam Allberry who is a pastor who claims to have long struggled against samesex attraction: https://www.livingout.org/the-bible-and-ssa. He has written an excellent short book, Allberry’s Is God Anti-Gay? is a good primer on the Biblical and practical questions. (2 things: (1) If enough people email us, [email protected], we will buy copies to make them available for purchase at cost in The Hub. (2) For the record, I don’t necessarily endorse anything else you may find on that website, but only Allberry’s article as accessed on 11/02/2019.) So, just to be clear, there are no passages in the Bible that support homosexual behavior or practice, either explicitly or by implication, even if using a relatively liberal interpretive framework. … So, the Bible is clear that homosexual behavior or practice is sinful.
Fourth… Does samesex marriage fit with God’s purpose for humanity or marriage?
Based on just the above, it is clear that samesex marriage does not fit with God’s purposes for humanity or marriage. Here’s why… Fulfilling God’s purposes for humanity and for marriage–to be fruitful and to produce God’s goodness and glory, which includes biological reproduction and the creating of a family–only works with biologically male and female body parts. In Scripture, there is no such thing as marriage that isn’t defined as one biological male and one biological female. Long-held Jewish Scriptural and interpretive tradition held that all forms of behavior outside the bonds of marriage-as-defined-by-God was a perversion–an upside-downing–of God’s intent. They called it “contrary to nature”, as a way of saying “contrary to God’s intent.” That’s why Paul says homosexual behavior is para physis (“contrary to nature”) in Romans 1:26, to describe a way humanity “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:25) and rejected God’s intent for humanity. Jesus Himself confirmed God’s intent for marriage in Matthew 19:4-6, where the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into coming down on the issue of divorce, and in response, 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning created them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Jesus’ response not only makes explicit that achieving God’s purpose of producing His goodness and glory happens, sexually, in the marriage of one biological man and one biological woman coming together, but in verse 5 He quoted Genesis 2:24 as His reason. Not only that, but notice in verse 6, as a retort to modern sensibilities and law, that Jesus says it is God alone who defines marriage. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” So, to summarize Jesus’ response here… When God created marriage together for His purposes of producing His goodness and glory, not only does divorce mess up God’s purposes, but samesex behavior does, too. It upends God’s design.
Now… to answer our main question more clearly… According to the Bible, there is no such thing as “samesex” marriage. There is only one form of marriage acknowledged in the Bible–between one biological man and one biological woman, for the purpose of producing God’s goodness and glory. Everything else that calls itself “marriage” is not marriage.