Last week the Governor of Rhode Island signed into law marriage for same-sex partners after majority approval by that state’s house of representatives. You can read about it and see the text of the bill here. This marriage decision is an important aspect of cultural change, but so is your marriage and mine, as those around us locally and around the world watch events unfold.
Intimacy begins with God, but marriage provides a convincing demonstration of the power of Christ’s love to enable people to experience true relationship. Your marriage can become a picture of God’s love. In an era of selfishness that is starving for love and intimacy, living in marital oneness with your spouse can be so attractive to the watching world. True relationship with God leads to true relationship in marriage, and offers a witness to the watching world. This witness is the foundation of family restoration.
John Piper’s latest book on marriage, “This Momentary Marriage,” highlights how significant marriage is to culture, and yet how profoundly inadequate we can be in fulfilling our responsibilities as a husband or as a wife. The magnitude and significance of the union is often far beyond what we imagine. Piper’s book can be found at his ministry's Resource Library. Some of Piper’s positions trigger vigorous debate (such as remarriage after divorce), but he points out that we need to change how we think about marriage and realize it is not just about us. Others are watching our marriages.
Several top Christian scholars have noted the four most important things that you can do about the institution of marriage in our culture, and they all become personal very quickly:
1. Hold tight to the truths of the Scriptures. Do not grow weary.
2. Honor a biblical understanding of marriage by remaining faithful to your respective spouse.
3. Continue raising your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
4. Share the Good News of the Gospel with all people. Be winsome but be bold.
Honoring marriage is not going to get any easier in a culture that misunderstands it as an expression of self and individualism. Rather, a good marriage is going to become more difficult. It is also, however, a defining moment in the history of the church, and we can rise to the occasion to meet it with courage and a spirit of strong conviction. Focus on the Family has more on this on their website.
Jesus Christ said in John 17:20-21, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The Lord prayed for our oneness as believers. Relational intimacy is, after all, at the heart of Scripture. This oneness is reflected in marriage, fulfilling our need for intimacy. And it is reflected in the church, to the watching world. A good portion of the watching world is our extended family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and those we serve every day. They watch how I treat my spouse, how I speak to my spouse on the telephone, how I treat him in person. Do I treat him with contempt when he disappoints me, or with respect as the first human target of my charity? The world is watching my marriage, and it is watching yours.