Should We Use the Bible in the Marriage Debate?

September 5, 2004

At first, the question seems unnecessary. Of course we will use the Bible in the great debate over marriage. How could Christians avoid the Bible? And why should we?

Before answering that question, consider an article by Don Wycliff, the “public editor” of the Chicago Tribune. On July 8 the paper published his column called “Challenging the Media’s ’Pro-Gay’ Tenor.” He quotes two pro-family leaders and commends them for making arguments that don’t depend on religious faith, i.e., they didn’t quote the Bible. He has a good point. There are some very strong non-religious arguments for traditional marriage and against gay marriage. Those of us who believe legalizing gay marriage would be catastrophic need to know those arguments, and we need to learn how to articulate them clearly and without anger. Truth with a smile (or at least without a frown) ought to be our goal. But that’s not the end of the discussion. It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying, “If people don’t believe the Word of God, we shouldn’t quote it because they won’t accept it anyway.” That reflects a worldly sort of wisdom that assumes God’s Word has no inherent power. Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us that the Word of God is shaper than any two-edged sword. It cuts through all our pious excuses and lays bare the thoughts and intents of the heart.

When Paul listed the weapons of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-17, he only mentions one offensive weapon — “the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God” (v. 17). Let’s be clear about what this means. The Bible is the Word of God whether we believe it or not. It doesn’t become God’s Word because we believe it. Our belief or unbelief does not change the nature of God’s truth. Suppose I take a knife out of my pocket, open the blade, and tell you, “This knife is extremely sharp. It will cut you if you aren’t careful.” And you say, “I don’t believe that knife is sharp. It won’t hurt me.”

There are two ways to resolve the question. We can debate the likelihood that the knife is sharp. We could spend hours talking about the blade, how it was sharpened, the makeup of the metal, the curvature of the knife, and so forth. Or I could simply take the knife and cut you. When you start bleeding, you’ll know the knife is sharp. If we truly believe what God says about homosexuality, we ought to say so publicly. In the great debate unfolding in our society, we need to use every weapon in our arsenal. Let’s appeal to research, to history, to natural law, to the universal tradition of heterosexual marriage, and to the very real dangers of gay marriage. But don’t leave your sword in the scabbard. Use the sword of the Spirit to speak God’s truth.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?