by Andrew T. Yeager
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) will go down in history as the landmark Supreme Court case which redefined marriage in this country, granting same-sex couples throughout the land the right to marry. Keen observers have noted, however, that nowhere in the opinion of the majority (written by Justice Kennedy) is marriage itself ever actually defined.
Any conversation about marriage ought to start with a simple definition—what is marriage? Most will come to one of two conclusions:
- Marriage is a human construct.
- Marriage is a divine institution.
From the Scriptures, it is clear that marriage is a divine institution. Marriage has its roots in the dust of creation. God creates the world in six days. His conclusion at the end of each day was, “It was good.” But then, God looked at Adam standing all by his lonesome and said, “Not good.” … “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Adam was not good in isolation. Alone, Adam could not “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:22, 28). Alone, Adam could not bring forth life.
Adam needed a helper. So, the Lord takes a rib from Adam’s side and creates Eve. And in a verse that should not be overlooked, God “brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:22). Notice: it is God who brings Adam and Eve together into this one-flesh union. God is the creator of marriage, not man. The one-flesh union of marriage is what God has joined together (Matt. 19:6). And through this one-male/one-female lifelong union, God brings forth life: “be fruitful and multiply.”
Marriage is a holy, sacred order that God has built into creation. It is easy to convince a person who holds Scripture to be the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God to believe that marriage is a divine institution and not a human construct. But what about the times we find ourselves debating marriage with our unbelieving friends and neighbors?
When two people don’t share the Word of God in common, it is important to argue as much as possible on the basis of shared reason. For instance, it is self-evident that men and women are different and that, in the differentiation of their sex, they complement one another. This is true emotionally, psychologically and physically. According to God’s design, they are “fit” for one another (Gen. 2:18).
That is written onto our very biology. The only biological system that is incomplete is the reproductive system, which is only completed through the union of one man and one woman. Only the union of one man and one woman can produce a child.
Marriage is defined by God Himself. He has written its design into the very fabric of creation. Let us pray for our nation, that its leaders may embrace the Lord’s gift of marriage and faithfully carry out their offices for the protection and fostering of God-fearing marriages and families.
The Rev. Andrew T. Yeager is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Garrett, Ind.