It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
A cool, gentle breeze ruffled the tree branches overhead.
Beth and I were at our daughter’s home. We had just finished lunch and were enjoying sitting in the spacious backyard watching our grandchildren play.
I thought about family and how blessed we are. Beth’s parents had joined us for lunch. They’re in great health at 83. I considered the beauty and joy of four generations together in a backyard on a perfect Sunday.
These gatherings are always special.
Family’s great. And family’s important.
In recent times the American family has changed – a lot.
The redefinition of “family” has been moving forward with breakneck speed.
This spring, as Americans traditionally celebrate Motherhood and Fatherhood, five men and three women, sitting on an unelected United States Supreme Court, are on the verge of morally re-aligning civilization. These justices will decide if the covenant institution of marriage will be expanded to include gay men and women. They have been asked to sanction homosexual union as a constitutional right.
Much of the argument before the Court, on both sides, has invoked children and the role of procreation in advancing society. This pending decision has as much to do about family as it does about marriage.
They are inextricably linked.
Marriage cannot be redefined without changing the meaning of being a mother. And what it means to be a father.
Our founders could appeal to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” in making their eloquent case for fundamental human dignity and freedom. In a western culture now steeped in moral relativism and spiritual rebellion, the case for gay marriage appeals to neither. Instead, it defies both.
The advocates of this unnatural alteration have public opinion squarely on their side. Never in American history has the tide turned so swiftly and dramatically. With a politically shrewd strategy and a sympathetic media, proponents have outmaneuvered, out-talked and out-hustled their adversaries. They have intimidated the voices of traditional morality into incoherence and ultimately silence.
They have won. And we’ve all seen this coming for some time.
Our churches often seem at a loss to address the central moral and spiritual issues at stake. They too have been intimidated – cowered by the harangues against “intolerance” and “bigotry” – and too anxious to sell their spiritual birthright for a hot bowl of popular cultural stew.
Who wants to be a religious Neanderthal?
The present famine of God’s Word has made us drink the sand of a moral desert.
Still, might doesn’t always make right.
In fact, history shows us the frequent fallacy of shifting opinion and political totalitarianism – and the undeniable consequences of moral decline.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is, after all, supposed to be a judicious arbiter and not a strident ideologue, pondered the serious implications of the court’s decision during oral arguments.
Not least of all because he may cast the deciding vote.
“This definition (of traditional marriage) has been with us for millennia,” Kennedy observed. “And it’s very difficult for the court to say, “Oh well, we know better.’”
That reluctance was previously echoed by a lower court judge:
“A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world.”
Yet without a vision of God, “the people cast off restraint”(Proverbs 29:18, NIV).
I’m not sure what Justice Kennedy had in mind when he spoke of “millennia”, but the first book of the Bible describes the arrangement that he and his black-robed colleagues may soon overturn:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27, KJV, emphasis added). Later, when the Book of Beginnings describes the creation of woman, it says:
“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (Genesis 2:24, NLT, emphasis added).
Jesus quotes this directly as God’s plan “from the beginning” (Matthew 19:4-5) and the apostle Paul also endorses it explicitly in his letter to the Ephesians (5:31).
Gay marriage or the Bible: they can’t both be right.
And while some insist God got this wrong, I’ll take my chances.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, in an article titled Saving Civilization, writes:
“When a man and woman make a lifetime commitment to one another they each benefit from the resulting stability, sensuality, and happiness. When a wife revels in her femininity and her husband submits his masculinity to the silken bonds of matrimony, the couple and children they create form a cocoon of security and joy.”
That’s why today, on our National Day of Prayer, I will pray for mothers and fathers and children and families. And it’s also why this Sunday I will rejoice in the celebration of womanhood and motherhood. I’ll thank God for my beautiful wife and three lovely daughters, two of whom are also mothers. I’ll offer praise for the women and mothers who guided history and have helped to change the world.
And, along with millions of my fellow Americans who will never surrender, I’ll thank God for the greatest institution, next to the Church, in the history of the earth:
The God-ordained family. Then, now and forever.