Sunday, October 04, 2015

Traditional Marriage Apologetics

Since this Sunday's readings included God's creation on woman from Adam's rib and Jesus' words in Mark 10,
"But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
I thought it was a good time to revisit the whole marriage debate even though it seems (at present) to have been settled in the U.S. this issue is still ongoing in the U.K.

The following is excerpted from an article posted at the Gospel Coalition a couple of months ago. It provides a concise defense of marriage against revisionist arguments for same-sex marriage in the church. It was written by Darrell L. Bock who is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary.

He refutes six common claims which we have all heard and sometimes felt ill prepared to challenge,

  • Claim 1: Jesus didn’t speak about same-sex marriage, so he’s at least neutral if not open to it. What Jesus doesn’t condemn, we shouldn’t condemn.
  • Claim 2: The Old Testament (OT) allows all sorts of “prohibited” marriage, including polygamy and what would today qualify as incest. If those were permitted, surely monogamous same-sex relationships should be allowed.
  • Claim 3: The move to prohibit recognition of same-sex marriage is like the church’s past blindness on slavery, women’s rights, and a geocentric universe—where what was “clearly” taught in Scripture is now seen as wrong.
  • Claim 4: We don’t follow all sorts of OT laws today (try laws on having sex while a woman is menstruating, or eating certain types of food), so why should we accept what the OT says about same-sex relationships?
  • Claim 5: Same-sex marriage doesn’t harm anyone, so it’s morally acceptable and people should have the right to choose what to do.
  • Claim 6: The ancient world didn’t understand genuine same-sex love, so this is a new category to consider.

I will give you two of his takedowns,

Claim 1:
"This is an argument from silence, but the silence doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Jesus addresses and defines marriage in Matthew 19:4–6 and Mark 10:6–9 using both Genesis 1:26–27 and Genesis 2:24 to parse it out. Here Jesus defines and affirms marriage as between a man and a woman, a reflection of the fact that God made us male and female to care for creation together. With this definition, same-sex marriage is excluded. Had Jesus wished to extend the right of marriage beyond this definition, here was his opportunity. But he didn’t take it."
That is called answering an argument from silence with an argument from silence; what Jesus did not affirm, we should not affirm. I am not sure that works, but the following might,
"Jesus never discussed same-sex marriage because the way he defined marriage already excluded it. He was not as silent on the topic as some claim."

Claim 6:
"Apparently neither Jesus nor Paul nor even God the Father—who inspired Scripture—recognized this potential category. But this claim ignores how widespread same-sex relationships were in the ancient world. Not all of them were abusive or exercises of raw social power. This is a classic example of 'chronological snobbery,' which C. S. Lewis described as 'the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited' (Surprised by Joy, 206), and which his friend Owen Barfield explained as the belief that, intellectually, humanity 'languished for countless generations in the most childish errors on all sorts of crucial subjects until it was redeemed by some simple scientific dictum of the last century' (History in English Words, 154)."
Readers might want to get some references from Robert Gagnon on same-sex relationships in the ancient world in order to better defend this argument. See also this Facebook page of his.

In conclusion, Bock writes,

"Divine revelation gives us every indication there is something sacred about God’s image being male and female, and something profound about marriage between a man and a woman (Eph. 5:32)—something that makes marriage unique among all human relationships."

Read the whole thing here.

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