On May 8, 2012, voters in North Carolina will cast their vote either “for” or “against” the proposed amendment to the constitution of North Carolina that defines marriage between a man and woman. If approved, the proposed measure would amend the constitution by adding the following words:
“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized by this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
Few issues are more polarizing in our society than what should or shouldn’t constitute a legal marriage. The rhetoric is often fierce, unproductive, and less than civil. And, seemingly, everyone has an opinion. Opinions, however, are just those…opinions.
Our opinions are influenced and informed by a variety of sources including family, friends, experiences, culture, and faith. So, how do we navigate these waters and come to a decision on such an important issue?
I would like to share a few of the reasons why I intend on voting “for” the proposed marriage amendment to the constitution of North Carolina.
Reason #1: Marriage between a man and woman is intended to point to the beauty of the gospel.
In Ephesians 5, Paul gives one of the clearest teachings on marriage in the Bible. At the end of the chapter, he writes, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” After beautifully explaining the roles of husbands and wives, Paul comes to the climax of his teaching and reminds us that marriage is intended to point us to the incredible love of Jesus Christ for His church.
Christ’s love toward the church is unconditional, meaning that we all are undeserving of His favor. Christ’s love toward the church is sacrificial, which is perfectly manifested on the cross. Christ’s love for the church is permanent, and, therefore, we are reminded that He will never divorce us and will forever be our faithful groom.
More recently, our culture has embraced a “me” centered approach to marriage. In other words, marriage is only seen as convenient and beneficial so long as both individuals feel as if their needs are sufficiently being met.
In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes about how the Enlightenment has shaped our culture’s current view of marriage. He wrote, “During the Enlightenment, things began to shift. The meaning of life came to be seen as the fruit of the freedom of the individual to choose the life that most fulfills him or her personally. Instead of finding meaning through self-denial, through giving up one’s freedoms, and binding oneself to the duties of marriage and family, marriage was redefined as finding emotional and sexual fulfillment and self-actualization.”
He added, “In short, the Enlightenment privatized marriage, taking it out of the public sphere, and redefined its purpose as individual gratification, not any “broader good” such as reflecting God’s nature, producing character, or raising children. Slowly but surely, this newer understanding of the meaning of marriage has displaced the older ones in Western culture.”
True north has changed. No longer is marriage seen as a picture of Christ’s glorious relationship with His church, rather it’s become a contract that is only as good as a spouse’s ability to deliver the goods.
Reason #2: Marriage was created by God to be an institution between one man and one woman.
Marriage is God’s design, and, although a human institution, it is not a human creation. This is clear from the creation account found in Genesis 2:24, when, upon the creation of man and woman, God says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Keller went on to write: “Marriage did not evolve in the late Bronze Age as a way to determine property rights. At the climax of the Genesis account of creation we see God bringing a woman and a man together to unite them in marriage. The Bible begins with a wedding (of Adam and Eve) and ends in the book of Revelation with a wedding (of Christ and the church). Marriage is God’s idea. It is certainly also a human institution, and it reflects the character of the particular human culture in which it is embedded. But the concept and roots of human marriage are in God’s own action, and therefore what the Bible says about God’s design for marriage is crucial.”
Inasmuch as marriage is God’s design, we would be well served to follow the pattern set forth by the Creator that not only allows for procreation but also the flourishing of society..
Reason #3: Healthy marriages (as previously defined) provide the best framework for the flourishing of the family and society.
In the book Why Marriage Matters, scholars from some of the leading universities around the country studied the affect “marriage” has on the family, economy, physical/mental/emotional health, and crime and domestic violence rates.
Here are some of their findings:
- Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers and mothers have good relationships with their children.
- Children are most likely to enjoy family stability when they are born into a married family.
- Children are less likely to thrive in complex households.
- Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents.
- Marriage and a normative commitment to marriage, foster high-quality relationships between adults as well as between parents and children.
- Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers, and cohabitation is less likely to alleviate poverty than is marriage.
- Marriage reduces poverty and material hardship for disadvantaged women and their children.
- Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms.
- Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women.
- Marriage seems to be associated with better health among minorities and the poor.
As the study rightly notes, “Marriage is not a panacea for all social ills.” However, we do see the lasting benefits both on the family and society.
As Christians, we are called to model and display the kingdom that Christ will ultimately establish. My hope is not in governments or a particular political agenda. My hope is in Jesus Christ, who died to save a wretched sinner like me. The truth of His death, burial, and resurrection changes everything; therefore, I willfully and joyfully submit to His design for marriage recognizing it is for both our good and flourishing. Hopefully, this will shed some light on why I came to this extremely important conclusion.
 Ephesians 5:31
 See Romans 8
 Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, (p.28)
 Ibid. (p. 28)
 Genesis 2:24 (ESV)
 Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, (p. 13)