Singleness, Marriage, and the Church

Through the years I have heard many people claim that the contemporary American church does not know “what to do” with single people and often either intentionally or unintentionally marginalizes them. Sermons on marriage are preached and special marriage classes are offered, and churches have numerous ministries that focus on children and families; these are […]

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Do Something Dangerous

One of our family’s favorite movies is “Dudley Do-Right” based on a cartoon with a Canadian Mountie as the main character. The Canadian Mountie is a legendary figure with “Maintien le Droit,” or “uphold the right” as his motto. The responsibilities of the Mountie called for bravery, heroism, and strength. They were fearless and they […]

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How to Make Smart Staffing Decisions

Three weeks ago I participated in my first Purpose Driven Church Conference in Lake Forest, CA with Pastor Rich Warren as the host.  Wow! Practical, purposeful, encouraging and inspiring with lots of ideas shared. In this post I simply share one of the 45 minute breakout sessions dealing with choosing the right leaders as staff. […]

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Examining the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality

The 2018 General Synod of the Reformed Church in America commended the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality to churches and classes for “reflection, study, and response … as a means of deepening our understanding of the biblical teaching on human sexuality and finding a pathway forward toward unity in mission and ministry.” (The […]

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Wow, that is a long hashtag, and by the way, don’t look for it on Twitter, because I am not much of a twitter guy.  However, I am a guy who is deeply concerned about the political and racial divide in our country.  We have seen this divide most recently in the emotionally charged issue […]

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Reflection on the RCA General Synod 2018

Reflection on the RCA General Synod 2018 A little over a week ago I returned from the RCA’s General Synod held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Being asked to write on my experience has forced me to intentionally reflect on the experience. I would boil my summary down to two words: Cautiously Optimistic. […]

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All Conditions of Hearts

Be merciful to those who doubt. Save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear. Jude 22 and 23. The hard facts about the work of evangelism is not everyone responds. In reference to the parable of the sower Jesus tells in Matthew 13, hearts come in all conditions. […]

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Strong Leadership Development Systems

Book Recommendation:  The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler, Bethany House Publishers 2012 In my previous posts I had the privilege to highlight the reality of the need for proper character development in Christ in order to lead in healthy ways.  In this short offering, I want to present the idea of the necessity of conviction […]

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And the Walls Came Tumblin’ Down

Growing a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic church is no simple task. But it is one that is crucial to the advancing of God’s kingdom. It is just as critical as a witness to the world and to larger church. In other words, this is about more than us! A few years ago, my wife and I purchased […]

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The Logical Implications of Being “For” Something

One thing emphasized by the leaders of the Gospel Alliance is the desire to be known for what it stands for rather than what it is against. Choosing to be for something, however, always results in rejecting other choices or options. This idea of saying “yes” to something resulting in saying “no” to other things […]

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One thing emphasized by the leaders of the Gospel Alliance is the desire to be known for what it stands for rather than what it is against. Choosing to be for something, however, always results in rejecting other choices or options. This idea of saying “yes” to something resulting in saying “no” to other things first became clear to me in my high school microeconomics class, as I was introduced to the idea of “opportunity cost” – you give up alternatives when you make any choice. So if you choose to make widgets, then you choose not to make doohickeys. This idea is found elsewhere in our world.  When you buy a house or car, you choose not to buy the other cars or houses for sale. When you accept a job, you are saying no to other jobs and options available to you. A student’s choice of a particular major in college means that she or he is rejecting the other majors offered at the school (unless she/he chooses to double major,but the overall point still holds, as choices are limited). When you choose to watch a certain TV show, you choose not to watch any of the other TV shows on at the same time (or any of the other streaming options that you may have at your disposal). Whenever we say “yes” to something, we say “no” to other things.

One thing that the Gospel Alliance is in favor of (or says “yes” to) is the need for the church to “solemnize a marital union between a man and a woman to reflect the covenantal love of Christ and His Church.” The Alliance says “yes” to this because of what is taught in Scripture, which defines marriage as the joining together of two people of different genders into a union that reflects Christ and the church. As Preston Sprinkle notes in his book People to Be Loved (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), Genesis 2 uses the Hebrew word kenegdo (p. 32) to speak of Eve being similar but also dissimilar to Adam.Since Genesis 2:24 grounds marriage upon this account, it seems that the “sexual difference” is an integral element of a marriage (p. 33). Sprinkle also highlights that the creation account itself stresses the idea of “unity in otherness” (p. 34), further supporting the idea that marriage displays a unity in the midst of gender differentiation. Jesus’s words in Matthew 19:3-11 and Mark 10:2-9 about divorce also stress the idea that marriage consists of a man and a woman. In fact, Jesus’s reference to Genesis 1:26-27  introduces the importance of different genders in the design of marriage in a situation in which reference to gender was not necessary. Paul’s teaching on the meaning of marriage in Ephesians 5 also assumes gender differentiation – a husband and a wife—as it connects marriage to Christ and the church. In addition to comparing the relationship between Christ and the church, Ron Citlau also highlights how the union of people of different genders in marriage “is a small echo of what God experiences within the Trinitarian community” in that the Trinity features distinct persons who are one substance (Hope for the Same Sex Attracted [Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2017], p. 42). Therefore, there is a constant thread in Scripture of marriage involving people of different genders; this thread is alongside of a consistent teaching that the context for human sexuality is the marriage relationship. The idea of the solemnization of marriage between a man and a woman thus is a call to teach and model marriages built upon biblical imagery.

Upholding this view of marriage will result in ruling out other definitions of marriage, such as that marriage is a union of any individuals who love each other. Ruling out this view, however, does not mean that one is primarily standing against it, as choosing to be for something always results in rejecting other choices or options. When someone makes a choice for something, people typically do not focus on what is excluded by the choice but rather what is included in that choice. The reason for rejection of certain options or ideas is not malice or hatred of other options (and those who support them), but rather the logical implication of the choice that has been made. Therefore, it is important to recognize that the idea of solemnizing marriage as the union of a man and a woman is not about being against something but rather being for something.

In being “for” this view of marriage one must also call out other ways in which marriages fall short of God’s design. Therefore, this call for the solemnization of marriage is not only about the need for different genders within a marriage but also for the conduct of these different partners to reflect God’s design for this institution. Husbands and wives need to be faithful to their covenant vows, reflecting the imagery of Christ and the church, and the church must teach this in all areas of its ministry. This involves not only teaching the definition of marriage, but also giving examples of it and providing ongoing support to help these marriages grow and flourish. May marriages that reflect the covenantal love of Christ and his church be something that the church is known for.