Myths that Led to Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 2

Several years ago I had the honor of hearing one of the world’s most distinguished scholars of natural law expound the nature of the basic good of marriage. Considering the times, a great portion of his lecture had to be devoted to why marriage is intrinsically heterosexual. The talk was perfectly logical, but to most people it would have seemed esoteric. During the discussion period, therefore, I asked him how he would make the case to ordinary people.…He thought for a little while, and then said, “I think it makes its own case.”

Exactly. And that is the classical approach. One cannot convince people of what they grasp already; one can only draw it out of them.

—J. Budziszewski1 (pronounced Boo jee shef skee)—

Key point: Same-sex marriage denies the importance of male and female differences in the marriage relationship itself, in parenting, and in the nurture and upbringing of children. Also, it robs children of either a mother or a father. By contrast, all of these are affirmed and upheld in natural, man-woman marriage.

Go here for summaries of all the articles in this series.

We are considering myths that led to the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges two-and-a-half years ago, a decision that departed a great distance from sound legal reasoning. Last time we highlighted four myths related to the Supreme Court, government, and the law, including the US Constitution. Here is a review.

  • Myth #1: Marriage is a government construct over which government and government alone has oversight.
  • Myth #2: The federal government, especially through its court system, has absolute authority over marriage.
  • Myth #3: The government bestows rights; therefore, the government can take them away.
  • Myth #4: The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of disputes in the United States.

While in this article we will refer to the decision of the Court in at least one instance, I’d like for us mainly to think logically about marriage itself, including what nature tells us about it and the implications that arise for marriage when a same-sex relationship is considered a marriage.

Nature Has a Great Deal to Say About Marriage

In the 1970s and even into the 1980s, a series of advertisements featuring Dena Dietrich as Mother Nature promoted Chiffon Margarine. The ads told us that Chiffon Margarine tasted so much like butter, it fooled even Mother Nature herself. She was incensed! It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature! Here is one of those ads.

The truth is that no one ever can fool Mother Nature. Efforts to do so, however well-intentioned they may be to produce outcomes believed to be beneficial, backfire anyway. Such is the nature of reality when we push against it by pretending that it is something it is not or that it is not something it is. This is the situation with regard to the redefinition of marriage in the United States.


No one can fool Mother Nature. Efforts to do so, however well intentioned they may be to produce outcomes believed to be beneficial, backfire anyway.


Myth #5: Gender is absolutely meaningless in marriage.

Fact: Gender and gender differences—physical, emotional, psychological, and relational—form the bedrock foundation on which marriage rests! The innate differences between men and women

  • set the stage for interdependency in a marriage, and thus a journey away from selfish independence and toward oneness;2
  • set the stage for practical needs to effectively be met within the family unit, which often includes innocent, vulnerable, and helpless infants and children;
  • set the stage for God to display His image through the couple’s relationship. While this is true especially in Christian marriages, even non-Christian marriages offer a picture of God’s qualities and character.
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Men are strong and independent and often are initiators. Women are intuitive, relational, patient, and supportive. This doesn’t mean that men can’t be relational or that women can’t ever lead. It does mean that, generally speaking, the husband is better suited to be the protector and provider of his family, and the wife is better equipped to be the nurturer and the source of warmth and encouragement in the home.

From Christian psychologist W. Peter Blitchington, we gain a great deal of insight into how male-female differences help foster emotionally healthy individuals and a healthy society—and how, from a Christian perspective, certain aspects of God’s image are reflected in each partner.

To Eve, and to women in general, God gave this important role—the ability to create new life; to deliver a unique human being, fashioned after his initial design. Woman represents the life-giving, nurturant side of God’s nature. Her capacity to give birth to a child represents God’s ability to give life to an entire universe. She represents God as the life-giver. The roundness and softness of woman were not designed just for the enjoyment of man alone (although that was part of the plan); they are also symbols of God’s tenderness and gentleness.…

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But God didn’t stop there, for he is the life-sustainer as well as the life-giver. He could have made us without the capacity to create children after our own image; or he could have made us so that we give birth to independent, self-sufficient children who need no care or nurturance from their parents. But God chose to create us so that we would produce helpless, dependent children who needed our care and love in order to grow and develop. And so a woman’s breasts were created not to be mere ornaments but as life sustaining organs—reminders that every object in God’s creation is not made just to be selfishly admired and enjoyed (as important as beautiful things are), but to be used for others in some capacity. And appropriately, he placed those life-sustaining organs right over the heart of woman.

But the woman’s nature didn’t reflect God perfectly because it didn’t contain his power and strength, his initiatory activity and energy—in short, his masculinity.

So God created Adam—man—to reflect this side of God’s nature. He made Adam taller, more muscular, signifying the man’s role as the protector of his family. He was to be the first link in God’s chain of authority. God also created man to be more aggressive and dominant, more logical and analytical. All of these traits complemented the female traits perfectly. Adam submitted to God and Eve to Adam. All were in harmony. Since neither sex could fully represent God’s character alone, a unity between the two was required. Thus by his plan of marriage, God insured that there would be an opportunity for continual growth within the family.3

Holy Trinity, by Szymon Czechowicz (1756–1758)

Let’s be sure we don’t overreact to the word submitted in this last paragraph. According to Christian teaching, within the Godhead—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—the Father is the decision-making member of the Trinity, or the initiator. For the Son and the Spirit to submit to the Father causes no strife or resentment. Thus, since marriage is to reflect the diversity and unity within the Godhead, the idea of submission ought not to create strife in a marriage.

Also in Christian teaching, marriage depicts Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church. Is it a burden for the church to submit to Christ, the One who laid down His life for her? Not at all! It is a joy to submit to Christ. Christ is Lord, but He doesn’t “lord it over” anyone. Similarly, since the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself for it, there should be no bitterness on the part of the wife responds positively to her husband’s leadership. Would any woman married to a man who truly loves her as Christ loved the church have difficulty responding positively to his leadership? How could she, unless she already has resolved to remain independent of him? Yet marriage is about unity and oneness, not individual independence.

Myth #6: The fact that procreation occurs naturally only through heterosexual intercourse has nothing to do with marriage and the family.

Fact: The fact that procreation occurs naturally only through heterosexual intercourse is a part of nature’s testimony that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. In 2003, a BreakPoint commentary by Chuck Colson emphasized this strong testimony. The commentary read in part,

The first line of yesterday’s Associated Press story says it all: “An appeals court ruled that Canada’s ban on homosexual marriage was unconstitutional, and hours later two Canadian men tied the knot in the country’s first legal same-sex wedding.”

This is the beginning of a vast social experiment initiated by judicial fiat. Canadian Justice Harry LaForme wrote in his opinion, “The restriction against same-sex marriage is an offence to the dignity of lesbians and gays because it limits the range of relationship options available to them. The result is they are denied the autonomy to choose whether they wish to marry. This in turn conveys the ominous message that they are unworthy of marriage.”

The argument, you see, is that to deny homosexuals marriage is manifestly unfair. But it’s not unfair. Gays and lesbians are not unworthy of marriage; they are incapable of marriage.


Gays and lesbians are not unworthy of marriage; they are incapable of marriage.


In his wonderful new book, What We Can’t Not Know, University of Texas professor J. Budziszewski states that the purpose of marriage is procreation—the begetting and rearing of children. The future of the human race depends on marriage understood as the union of one man and one woman. Relationships between two men or two women are by their very nature sterile and, thus, not marriage.

Budziszewski writes, “To call procreation the purpose of marriage is not arbitrary; alone among all forms of human union, the union of the sexes produces children.…A legislature [or a court] can no more turn sodomitical unions into marriages than it can turn dogs into cats; it can only unravel the institution of marriage by sowing confusion about its purpose.”


A legislature or court can no more turn sodomitical unions into marriages than it can turn dogs into cats; it can only unravel the institution of marriage by sowing confusion about its purpose.
—J. Budziszewski—


J. Budziszewski

Budziszewski makes this case for heterosexual marriage on page 188 of his book.4 Just prior to making it, he describes the cultural backdrop with regard to the debate over marriage and shows how it has been rigged. A noble ideal, marital purity, in this case—the self-evident meaning of marriage as a permanent commitment between one man and one woman—is attacked in the name of another noble ideal, that of fairness. It isn’t fair, we’ve been told, to honor the request of a heterosexual couple desiring marriage while denying the request of a homosexual couple saying they, too, want marriage. We see this idea in Colson’s commentary in this sentence: The argument, you see, is that to deny homosexuals marriage is manifestly unfair. Yet this argument distorts the true nature of fairness. The principle of fairness in its truest form does not forbid treating people differently, but arbitrarily treating them differently. Likewise, fairness prevents us from arbitrarily treating people the same. Context is important.

Here’s an illustration. If we totaled up the score between two opposing football teams at the end of a game, divided it by two, and awarded each team the same score, that would not be fair. Why? Because competition is one of the inherent purposes of football. Such an approach would obliterate competition from the mix and change the very nature of the game.


If we totaled up the score between two opposing football teams at the end of a game, divided it by two, and awarded each team the same score, that would not be fair. Why? Because competition is one of the inherent purposes of football. Such an approach would obliterate competition from the mix and change the very nature of the game.


A fundamental inherent purpose of heterosexual marriage is producing children. While it may seem fair recognize a same-sex relationship as a marriage, doing so obliterates from marriage one of its inherent purposes. Same-sex couples, by the very nature of their relationship, cannot procreate! Yet they can be married? This stands contrary to reality!5

Myth #7: Gender is absolutely meaningless in parenting.

Fact: Mothers are not fathers, nor can they be fathers to their children. Similarly, fathers are not mothers and cannot act, in any ongoing way, adequately in the mothering role. This is not to say that moms can’t ever challenge their children to take reasonable risks or that dads can’t ever be nurturing. It is to say that men are equipped physically, emotionally, and relationally to be dads, and women are equipped physically, emotionally, and relationally to be moms. Men and women parent differently, and children of both sexes need the nurturing love of a mother and the strength, safety, and challenge a father will give. Children need both parenting styles for emotional balance and healthy development.

What are some specific ways men and women parent differently? Glenn Stanton, social researcher at Focus on the Family, names several in a must-read article. Here we summarize some of his major points.

  • Moms and dads tend to approach their children’s play differently. From Mom a child learns the importance of equity, security, and building bonds through shared experiences. From Dad the child receives encouragement to compete and to strive for independence. Also from Dad, a child learns how strength and safety can be intertwined. Roughhousing with Dad teaches the child that Dad is both strong and safe. This is foundational for self-assurance and confidence.
  • Moms tend to encourage and offer security while dads tend to push their children to move beyond their comfort zones to accomplish what they’re capable of achieving.
  • Moms are verbal and personal in their communication style; dads use fewer words than moms and tend to be more direct or “bottom line.”
  • “Dads,” Stanton writes, “tend to see their child in relation to the rest of the world. Mothers tend to see the rest of the world in relation to their child.”
  • Moms provide a gateway for their children to view the world of women; dads provide the gateway for them to view the world of men. Because all children are, generally speaking, surrounded by women in infancy and in their earliest years, it is understandable that dad’s connection to the world of men is especially important for young boys. In another article, Stanton discusses the truth that boys must learn to be men. How else can they learn this essential skill unless they spend time in the company of other men?
  • When children see their opposite-sex parents interact in healthy ways with each other, they learn much more than the relational dynamics involved when two people interact; they get to observe the core qualities and subtle nuances of interaction between the sexes. Though this interaction, kids learn what mutual respect for members of the opposite sex looks like and feels like.

Stanton’s conclusion offers this key statement: “When we disregard the gender distinctions of parental influence as unimportant or unnecessary, we seriously diminish the proper development of children.” In addition to Stanton’s article, this piece is well-worth reading.

Myth #8: Marriage is really all about adults—not children.

Fact: You won’t find advocates of same-sex marriage actively promoting this idea as expressed here. In fact, a focus on the needs of children has been at the forefront of the arguments for same-sex marriage. Read this portion of Justice Kennedy’s decision in Obergefell. Writing for the majority, he said,

[M]any same-sex couples provide loving and nurturing homes to their children, whether biological or adopted. And hundreds of thousands of children are presently being raised by such couples…Most States have allowed gays and lesbians to adopt, either as individuals or as couples, and many adopted and foster children have same-sex parents…. This provides powerful confirmation from the law itself that gays and lesbians can create loving, supportive families.

Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.

We readily acknowledge that the first sentence we have cited here is correct: A great many same-sex couples do indeed provide loving and nurturing homes for their children. This and a generous number of other statements in the majority opinion reflect concern for children’s well-being. Even so, the question is not whether homes with same-sex parents can meet a wide range of children’s needs and offer a loving and caring environment. They can and they do! The question is whether we are willing to acknowledge the critical element that is lacking for children in every same-sex-parent home.

Every home run by same-sex parents not only fails to provide a fundamental need children have; it actually denies children this need. Children need both male and a female parents, parenting together, and only an opposite-sex couple can meet that need. Please reread our discussion about myth #7 and consider it in light of myth #8. As noble as statements about the needs of children sound, it is crystal clear that same-sex marriage, because of what it is, shortchanges children by placing the desires of adults above the needs of their children.


Same-sex marriage shortchanges children by placing the desires of adults above the needs of their children.


I cannot express it any better than Katy Faust and Dawn Stefanowicz have in this video, which is produced by Alliance Defending Freedom. You can learn more at marriageisourfuture.org. You can hear them tell their own stories of growing up in homes with same-sex parents here.

There are even more aspects to this myth. This isn’t just about the impact of same-sex marriage in homes with same-sex couples; it’s also about the message that society sends to everyone in the culture, especially to members of future generations. In their excellent book, Marriage on Trial: The Case against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting, Glenn T. Stanton and Dr. Bill Maier answer the question, “How could same-sex marriage harm my children?”

Same-sex marriage teaches children and their generation that marriage is merely about fulfilling adult sexual and emotional desire, nothing more. Many approaches and philosophies of heterosexual marriage already teach this, and same-sex marriage will only help solidify it.

Same-sex marriage—like easy divorce, cohabitation, pre- and extramarital sex, and unmarried childbearing—relativize family relationships. It promotes a smorgasbord mentality for family life: choose what suits your tastes, and one choice is as good as another. But no society has ever been able sustain itself with such a view of family life.

Same-sex marriage will teach little boys that the idea of being a good family man—caring and sacrificing himself for one woman and their children—is not expected or even virtuous, but merely one’s lifestyle choice among many. Same-sex marriage teaches our daughters that being committed to and helping socialize a husband and bearing and raising children with him is also only one family lifestyle choice among many.

In short the entire meaning and significance of marriage itself, and what it means to be male and female, will be radically changed. So will the choices and behaviors of those who grow up within that altered social context.6

We now have considered eight myths, but we’re only about halfway through our list. Next time, we’ll turn our thoughts toward Christmas, but soon thereafter we’ll resume our quest to expose the harmful myths responsible for redefining marriage.

Stay tuned!

 

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Notes:

1J. Budziszewski, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide, (Dallas: Spence Publishing, 2003), 204-205.

2W. Peter Blitchington, Sex Roles and the Christian Family, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1981), 51.

3Blitchington, 52.

4J. Budziszewski, 188.

5Budziszewski, 187-188.

6Glenn T. Stanton and Dr. Bill Maier, Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 55-56.

 

Nature’s Testimony Is Only the Beginning

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
—George Washington Carver1

The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6).
—George Washington Carver2

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Part 4 is available here.

In the last four posts3 we have examined evidence from nature regarding humanity and human relationships, including marriage and the family. Nature’s testimony clearly upholds marriage as the lifelong commitment of one man and one woman. Their union forms a family; in fact, in each case it forms the specific family of which they and all the children born to them are a part. The family is the most basic unit society; thus, if the institutions of marriage and the family unravel, so does society. We see this happening today. Nature itself points to these truths, but its testimony is only a start. God has revealed Himself and His intentions for humanity even more fully in the Bible.

Just how do the testimony of nature and what we read in the Bible fit together? Francis Schaeffer offers an illustration that brilliantly answers this question.4 Here’s a summary of his analogy.

Francis-Schaeffer

Suppose we are walking through a forest, and we come upon a two-story cabin. We begin to explore the inside of the cabin, and on the first floor we find a table. On the table we discover the bottom portion of a book that has been ripped in two, leaving about one inch of type on each page. We can read what is printed on the bottom of these pages, but we cannot decipher the entire story, the complete message of the book’s author. Of course, no one among us ever would suggest that what we have has come into being by chance. An intelligent being is the clear source of the section of the book we are examining with great curiosity.

As we continue exploring, we go upstairs and find the top portion of the same book. We now can bring the two sections of the book together and at last can read the entire message of the author. We can understand the complete story he sought to convey when he wrote. Moreover, through the book, we can get to know the author. This is especially true because in the book, the author tells us about himself.

The bottom portion of the book—the section we discovered on the first floor—represents nature, the world around us, the cosmos, and the created order. The top section represents the Scriptures; in them nature is explained. As we read the top and bottom pages together, the bottom pages make much more sense. We note that what the bottom pages tell us coincides perfectly with all we learn from reading the top part of the book. We now understand not just “what,” but “why.” Our questions about life and nature are answered in the Bible—not exhaustively, but adequately. We learn why evil exists in the world. We can understand how nature reflects God’s perfect character, even though the world and even the universe have been marred and damaged by sin and evil. Furthermore, we read of God’s solution to the mess we’re in, and we discover that we can respond to Him in a personal way because He has revealed Himself personally to us. God didn’t just unveil Himself in nature and in the Bible; He also came and lived among us personally in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890

In Hebrews 1:1-4, the writer of Hebrews declared,

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

These words remind us of what the apostle John said about Jesus in John 1:1,14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus, of course, affirmed the teachings of Scripture in His public ministry (see Matt. 5:17-18). In turn, as the analogy we have cited so clearly illustrates, the Bible explains what nature reveals (see Ps. 19:1-4).


Even without the Bible or a specific knowledge of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ, people know enough about God from nature’s testimony to be “without excuse” (see Rom. 1:20).


Yet, even without the Bible or a specific knowledge of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ, people know enough about God from nature’s testimony to be “without excuse.” Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [the unrighteous, but by implication all people] are without excuse” (see Rom. 1:20).

Since nature, the Bible, and Jesus Christ come together to speak a clear and unified message, we do well to heed all they tell us, including what they have said about marriage.

Remember this about marriage: What nature reveals, the Bible explains, and Jesus affirmed.5

It can’t get any more reliable than that.

An epilogue to this series of articles is available here.

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Notes:

1https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgewash106884.html

2http://poeministries.org/strength-for-today/the-secret-of-my-success-by-george-washington-carver

3The last four posts are:

4Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who is There: 30th Anniversary Edition (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press 1998, 1982, 1968), 137-138.

5http://www.wordfoundations.com/2015/08/13/the-high-cost-of-denying-the-obvious-part-3/

God’s Definition of Marriage is Self-Evident

The High Cost of Denying the Obvious: Part 3

It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.
—James Prescott Joule1

Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need both a mother and a father.
—Ryan T. Anderson2

Part 2 is available here.

The Bible tells us that God created both men and women in His image. “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). First, He “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (2:7). The man, Adam, had a close relationship with God, but he still needed a human companion.

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

Of course, God knew all along that none of the members of the animal kingdom could be a helper and companion for Adam, but the Lord wanted Adam to see and understand this for himself.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

So we see that God not only created the man and the woman but also marriage—the union in which their companionship could flourish and be fully enjoyed. God also told the first couple, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28).

During His ministry, Jesus affirmed God’s design for marriage and the family as stated in Genesis. In Matthew 19, when asked by the Pharisees about the legality of divorce, Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Nature Affirms God’s Design

We note that the Bible is crystal clear in both the Old and New Testaments regarding what marriage is; it is the union of one man and one woman for a lifetime. Yet, even without the Bible, the Creator’s design for human relationships, including the fundamental role marriage plays for the benefit of individuals and society, would be abundantly evident. It should not surprise us that the Bible and nature say the same thing, because God is the author of both.

Let’s consider several realities.

First, a man and a woman fit together physically. We see this most clearly in the outlines of the genitalia of a male and a female. This is a fitting that obviously is not present with two men or two women. Moreover, sexual intercourse involves precisely one man and one woman. The human bodies of the man and the woman therefore point to monogamy and sexual exclusivity—and those of same sex couples point to abstinence from sexual activity altogether.

Second, sexual encounters between a husband and wife enhance their relationship by bonding them together physically, emotionally, psychologically, and on many other levels through sexual intercourse. Sexual pleasure is an inseparable part of these experiences. The man and his wife must learn how to pleasure each other, certainly; but their bodies cooperate naturally as sexual arousal occurs. Physical gratification, though, is not the only purpose for sex.

As the male and female bodies are aroused, they also set the stage to increase the chances that fertilization and pregnancy will occur. (Read more here about some of the physiological miracles that occur as a husband and wife come together sexually—but be aware at the outset that this material is explicit). This is the third point we should consider. Only a heterosexual union can produce a baby. Infertile couples certainly do exist, but they do not negate the general rule that when one man and one woman come together and share themselves with each other intimately and sexually, the way is paved for conception, pregnancy, and the eventual arrival of a child. The “one flesh” union, therefore, isn’t just about a couple’s coming together and uniting their bodies sexually; it’s also about the “one flesh” person that can and often does result from the sexual experiences they share. As Ryan Anderson has said, “The lovemaking act is also the life-giving act. The act that unites a man and a woman as husband and wife is the same act that can make them mother and father. This begins to tell us something about what the marital relationship is ordered toward.”3

Fourth, the baby, when it arrives, is totally helpless. She needs nourishment on a regular basis. He needs to have his diapers changed—repeatedly. We are truly deaf and blind in the most extreme sense if we fail to see that nature’s way of bringing a new human life into the world also makes a clear and bold statement about who should have the primary responsibility to care for newborns when they arrive. Moreover, this isn’t just about caring for babies and children so they will grow up to become responsible individuals; it’s also about maintaining a healthy society for years to come. The future of the human race depends on reproducing it so those dying out can be replaced. This can occur only with heterosexual couples. As Charles Colson put it, “The survival of the human race depends upon marriage as the institution by which we procreate and perpetuate civilization.”4

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Fifth, men and women are different in ways beyond their obvious biological differences. Creation and practical experiences testify to this, despite cultural efforts to wipe out references to these contrasts. Today we even know that male and female brains are different,5,6,7 but historically we also have recognized a variety of distinctive traits in each gender. A man is uniquely equipped to meet the needs of his wife, and a woman is uniquely gifted to meet the needs of her husband. Moreover, each one has specific attributes that serve to meet the needs of the children that come into the family as a result of the couple’s sexual union. Every child needs both a mother and a father. Certainly single parent homes exist, and we credit single moms and single dads with all they do to effectively rear their children. Even so, a woman cannot be a dad, nor can a man be a mother.

Celebrate the Differences!

This last point calls for some elaboration. In his insightful book Growth into Manhood,8 Alan Medinger, a former homosexual, devotes an entire chapter to masculinity and its qualities. Medinger emphasizes that masculinity, and femininity, for that matter, are broad concepts—certainly broader than the concepts of male and female. We can understand the traits of one better when we contrast them to the characteristics of the other. Both men and women have masculine and feminine qualities, but in men, masculine traits predominate, and in women, feminine qualities prevail. God, having made both men and women in His image, embodies both masculine and feminine traits (see Ps. 103:13; Matt. 23:37), although He has revealed Himself as Father (Eph. 4:4-6).

Medinger makes four points. These insights are politically incorrect today, but they nevertheless ring true in our lives and in our experiences.

First, while the masculine focuses on that which is external or is “outer directed,” the feminine emphasizes the internal, for it is “inner directed.”

The masculine faces the world: It is oriented to things; it explores; it climbs. Its energy is directed toward the physical: measuring, moving, building, conquering. The feminine looks inward toward feeling, sensing, knowing in the deepest sense. Its energy is directed toward relationships, coming together, nurturing, helping. Rather than moving out into the world, it draws the world around it into itself. Both the masculine and the feminine are relational, but the masculine relational drive is toward the physical, toward working and playing together; the feminine drive is toward being together. In fact, another way to describe this same contrast is masculine doing and feminine being.9

Medinger goes on to say that male bodies, which are stronger, are equipped to engage in masculine activity. Female bodies, by contrast, are equipped to facilitate the enhancement of relationships at a deeper level. He is analytical; she has intuitive insight. He is well-suited to protect, she to bear children and to nurture and comfort. His communication is straightforward, hers warmer and more intimate.10 Both are equal in importance, and both are necessary, but each is different from the other.

Second, the masculine initiates and the feminine responds. Accordingly, generally speaking, men plan and move out to accomplish new projects. They embark on new quests and adventures. The feminine acts to assist her male companion in accomplishing those goals through encouragement, support, and practical help.11

At this point we can expect to get a great deal of flack from those who see the traditional home as oppressive to women. We are not saying that a woman never initiates anything or that a man never responds to his wife. Nor are we saying that the role of the initiator is superior to that of the one responding and helping. Both are important and necessary, and both are of equal value.

When Focus on the Family relocated to Colorado Springs from Southern California in the early 90s, the move was exciting for Dr. James Dobson, its founder and president at the time. “For me,” Dobson remembers, “it took fifteen minutes to get used to the idea.” Dobson’s wife, Shirley, had difficulty. Dr. Dobson knew her perspective was different from his. “She’d have to start over. She had envisioned continuing to make memories in the same house where [we had] raised the kids. Plus, Southern California had more culture than Colorado Springs. I brought my ‘culture’ with me, in Focus.” Shirley had long known that relocating was a real possibility, and she maintained the perspective that she and her husband were a team. After the move and the departure of their adult children from the home, Shirley began to write books and to find fulfillment as chairman of the National Day of Prayer. Of course, she continued to be her husband’s chief supporter as well.12

351

As a side note, Medinger observes that since God is the ultimate initiator, it is entirely appropriate that He would reveal Himself in the masculine role of Father. We, as responders to God, are all feminine in this sense. How fitting, therefore, that we who are followers of Christ are called His bride (see Eph. 5:31-32).13

The third point highlights the immeasurably significant influence a wife has over her husband. The masculine embodies authority, and the feminine embodies power. We see masculine authority in initiation and in decision-making, and we see related masculine power in physical strength. These aren’t the only kinds of influence, however.

There is the power that is physical strength that can lift two hundred pounds or open the pickle jar, but there is also a power that endures, that does not vacillate, that is like glue or solder that holds things together. This is the power of the feminine. In the family, the woman, the one primarily embodying the feminine, is the one in almost all cultures who holds the family together. She makes the home and does the most to establish relationships among husband, wife, and children. This takes a special kind of power that is less often present in the man.14

A wife wields great influence over her husband. Despite all the talk about the benefits of cohabitation and how marriage is oppressive to women—and the perspective that biblical submission keeps a wife from reaching her full potential—marriage actually gives women great leverage. In his book, The Ring Makes All the Difference, social researcher Glenn Stanton describes a scenario in which a woman cohabitating with her boyfriend asks him to don a Barney costume to entertain the kids at her niece’s upcoming birthday party. He objects. He has plans to fish. Besides, Brittney isn’t his niece—she’s his girlfriends niece! Now, think how this conversation would go if the two were married. A husband cannot refuse his wife as readily as a guy can turn down his girlfriend.15 Stanton observes, “Contrary to stereotypes…a man with a ring on his finger will spend up to eight more hours a week washing dishes and cleaning clothes, floors, and bathrooms than his shacking-up peer.”16 Marriage really isn’t as oppressive as we’ve been led to believe! Feminine power is powerful indeed!

Fourth, the masculine uphold truths while the feminine emphasizes and offers mercy.

This contrast between the masculine and feminine is the stuff around which dramas are written. The father discovers that his beloved son has committed a terrible crime and forces him to turn himself in to the authorities. The mother pleads with him not to. The masculine operates on principle; the feminine is moved by compassion. The masculine looks to the long-term good; the feminine looks at the immediate human need. The masculine has a passion for truth, the feminine for love.17

Keep in mind that we never would say that men are totally without mercy or that women completely lack the ability to confront with the truth when necessary. At the same time, this difference and the others we have named are prevailing trends that should be acknowledged and celebrated. Why? They benefit couples, families, society, and humanity at large. Minimizing them is both foolish and detrimental.

We stated earlier that God embodies both the masculine and the feminine. This is a good place to illustrate this truth. Consider Psalm 62:11-12, which presents the perfect balance between contrasting qualities.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done” (NIV).

Were God powerful and strong but not loving, He would destroy us all. Were He loving but not powerful, He would desire to meet our deepest need but would be unable to do so. Thankfully, He possesses both strength and love. Moreover, in His design for the family, He has provided for a balanced representation of essential contrasting qualities like strength and love, and truth and mercy. This is important for both the husband and wife, for each provides a check against the excesses of the other; and it’s essential for children, whose views of God are first based on what they observe and experience in their relationships with their parents at home.

Nature Also Warns Against Departing from God’s Plan

We have seen a variety of ways in which creation testifies to God’s clear definition of marriage in Scripture. One more thing we must do is contrast this to homosexuality, which today purports to be just as natural, normal, and healthy as heterosexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth, and examining a few of the things that happen physiologically when two men come together sexually will demonstrate just how far homosexuality departs from God’s design. It is diametrically opposed to God’s intentions and plan. Nature affirms this clearly, reflecting precisely what the Bible teaches with regard to behavior to emulate and actions to avoid. Be forewarned! The quote I am going to present is explicit, but necessarily so. Yet it also is limited, for much more could be said. Still, enough will be said to vividly illustrate creation’s reflection of God’s design and the cost of departing from His plan. Go here to read these important statements.

We Have a Duty to Point Out Nature’s Lessons Regarding Sexuality

In an article titled “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ and Natural Law,” blogger Kevin Kukla does a good job of summarizing two of the major points we have attempted to make: “The female body and the male body are designed to operate sexually in union with each other. Homosexual activity defies the innate design of the human body.”18 It logically follows from these two truths that we do well to heed what we learn from nature about sexuality and human relationships.

Even though “common sense” has become all too uncommon today, it can be restored as we raise our voices to declare the obvious. Let us raise them lovingly, forthrightly, consistently, and persistently. As the apostle Paul wrote, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).

Part 4 is available here.

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

top image: Signing the Register, painting by Edmund Leighton (1853-1922)

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scriptures designated NIV are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Notes:

1https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jamespresc317816.html?src=t_natural_laws

2http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/03/marriage-what-it-is-why-it-matters-and-the-consequences-of-redefining-it

3Ryan T. Anderson, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, (Kindle Edition: Regnery, 2015), loc. 411.

4Charles Colson with Anne Morse, My Final Word, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 142.

5Walt Larimore, MD, and Barb Larimore, His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your Marriage, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

6http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-mens-brains-are-wired-differently-than-women/

7 http://www.mastersofhealthcare.com/blog/2009/10-big-differences-between-mens-and-womens-brains/

8Alan Medinger, Growth into Manhood, (Colorado Springs, CO: Shaw, 2000).

9Medinger, 84.

10Medinger, 84-85.

11Medinger, 85.

12Dale Buss, Family Man: The Biography of Dr. James Dobson, (Wheaton: Tyndale, 2005), 118-119, 245-247.

13Medinger.

14Medinger, 86.

15Glenn Stanton, The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011), 41-42.

16Stanton, 49.

17Medinger, 87.

18http://prolife365.com/homosexual-marriage-and-natural-law/

 

 

God Speaks Clearly Through Nature

The High Cost of Denying the Obvious, Part 2

We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.…If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.
—John O’Keefe, a NASA astronomer1

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
—Maltbie D. Babcock2

Part 1 is available here.

The apostle Paul was on his first missionary journey when, in Lystra, God used him to heal a man who had been unable to walk since birth. At Paul’s command the man “leaped and walked” (Acts 14:10). Immediately, the people assumed Paul and Barnabas were gods and took steps to worship them.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

Later Paul would write to the Christians at Rome that “since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [all people, but especially those who habitually practice ungodliness] are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). Paul went on to say that the ungodly claim to be wise but demonstrate their foolishness by worshiping the creation rather than God, the Creator, the true source of all they deify in their minds.

Paul’s words of warning and instruction in both these instances remind us of David’s poetic words in Psalm 19. Centuries before Paul, David wrote,

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

Just what are some of the things nature tells us about God and God’s desire for humanity?

First, God exists. There really is a supreme, omnipotent being who is responsible for the world and everything in it. Look around you. Consider creation in all its stunning beauty and splendor. While countless wonders exist in nature, think about those that have been called the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.3 Descriptions of these typically do not give God credit as Creator or Designer.4 Still, failing to acknowledge Him, or at least the possibility He exists, is to be totally blind to overwhelming evidence. Mark it down: Those who choose not to see are the most blind among us.5

The biggest miracle of all is life. Biologist Edwin Conklin once said, “The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in printing shop.”6 The ordered world we see around us compels us to conclude that an omnipotent, personal, purposeful force is its source. This leads us to the second point.

Second, God is a God of precision and order. Nature is not chaotic but meaningful. It also is balanced; and, in the many instances in which it needs to be precise to sustain life, it is just that.

In his excellent book The Case for a Creator, journalist and atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel reports on numerous interviews he had with world-class scholars about evidence for a Creator. One of these scholars was Robin Collins, PhD. Strobel describes Collins as “an articulate, physics-trained philosopher who has done his own original research on the issue [of precision in the universe]. I especially liked his reputation—he was known as being careful and conservative in his calculations, unwilling to make judgments that exceed the bounds of the data.”7 Collins serves as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.8

In Strobel’s interview with Collins, the professor stated, “Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far too fantastic to attribute this to mere chance or to claim that it needs no explanation. The dials are set too precisely to have been a random accident.”9

The areas in which precision has been noted include gravity, the nature of the earth’s atmosphere, the presence and amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, the distance of the earth from the sun, the magnetic field of the earth, and the tilt of the earth’s axis, to name just a few.10,11

The microscopic world likewise has God’s “fingerprints” all over it. In explaining to his employees why he believed in the God of the Bible, Christian businessman Robert Laidlaw12 (1885-1971) wrote of how an astronomer reached an erroneous conclusion about the Creator from observing the universe. His quest, however, finally led him to the truth.

What does God care about this little world of ours compared with the vastness of the mighty universe?

Think of our own solar system, with the planet Neptune 30 times as far away from the sun as Earth, so that it takes 164 Earth years to make 1 Neptune year, and beyond this, suns with planets revolving around them as our solar system revolves around the sun! Of what importance can Earth be to God, and of how much less importance can man be?

So said the astronomer as the faith of his youth fled—this is what the telescope had done for him. The vastness of the heavens had robbed him of faith in his mother’s God, for how long could God trouble Himself with man, who is smaller than a grain of sand in comparison?

But his thirst for knowledge would not let him rest. The heavens were available for study only at night; how should the free hours of the day be spent? Why not a microscope? And lo! Worlds were opened at his feet—worlds as wonderful as those above, and slowly his faith came back. Yes, the God who could attend to such minute details as to make a drop of ditch water throb with miniature life, was sure to be interested in man, the highest form of His creation.13,14

Speaking of human beings, we move to the next point.

Third, God made human beings distinctive and special. Humanity is clearly superior to plant and animal life. For example, no sense of moral order exists in the plant or animal kingdoms, yet it clearly does among people. Humanity also is uniquely creative. Consider, for example, the arts. While it’s true animals build and produce, they do so according to their instincts. They do not have imaginations as do members of the human race. Other qualities set people apart from the rest creation as well, things such as human appreciation of beauty, the practice among humans of wearing jewelry and ornate clothing, and language.

Here’s a story that highlights the uniqueness of humanity. A teacher instructed her students to list the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. After giving them enough time, she told them to pass their papers forward. One student, however, expressed frustration. “There are so many!” she said. “It’s been hard to decide which ones to include.” The teacher asked to see the student’s paper and discovered she had written,

1. the ability to see
2. to hear
3. to touch
4. to smell
5. to taste
6. to laugh
7. to love15

While many animals have some of these attributes, only human beings have them all, and only humans can appreciate them.

The uniqueness of human beings implies strongly that we should work to preserve and defend human life. This is a matter of utmost seriousness. People are God’s highest creation, so He cares deeply about how they are treated. Our culture’s reluctance and even refusal to protect the most vulnerable among us truly is appalling. Often the refusal to defend life is based on shallow reasons like convenience or political expediency. 16,17,18,19,20 God will not overlook these actions but will judge them if we as a people do not repent.21

Fourth, God gives man the resources to live and to improve his conditions, but He does not do everything for him. God expects men and women to work to sustain themselves. He wants them to improve their lives and to thrive through productive work (see Gen. 1:28; Ex. 20:9; Deut. 8:18; Prov. 6:6-11).

Fifth, this implies that every person is accountable to God. Humanity’s sense of morality or right and wrong also says people are accountable to Him (see Rom. 2:12-16). So does death (see Heb. 9:27).

220px-DanielWebster

Once Daniel Webster was asked what the most profound thought was that ever had crossed his mind. Webster replied, “My accountability to God.”22 Thomas Jefferson demonstrated similar wisdom when he said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”23  These words are inscribed on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.

jeffersonmemorial

God’s eternality and wisdom are but two additional divine attributes to which creation testifies.24 The truth is that we can learn a great deal about God just from the natural world, if we only will be observant and open. Furthermore, it is critical that we be receptive to everything creation teaches us. Why? Because the price for ignoring these lessons is heavy indeed. This issue has eternal implications.

While the observations we have made are helpful, we actually need to be even more specific. Next time we will look closely at some of the things God has revealed through nature about sexuality, family relationships, marriage, and the social order. Stay tuned.

Part 3 is available here.

A discussion guide for this post is available here.

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For Further Reading:
Evidence for God’s Existence by Sue Bohlin

Notes:

1http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/quotes.html

2http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/t/i/tismyfw.htm

3The Seven Natural Wonders of the World are

  • the Grand Canyon,
  • the Great Barrier Reef in northeast Australia,
  • the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro,
  • Mount Everest,
  • the northern and southern lights or the Aurora,
  • Mexico’s Parícutin Volcano, and
  • Victoria Falls in southern Africa.

For more information, go here, here, and here.

4http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/the-7-natural-wonders-of-the-world

5http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/There’s+none+so+blind+as+those+who+will+not+see

6http://www.quotes.net/quote/12135

7Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 128.

8http://www.messiah.edu/homepage/1662/robin_collins

9Strobel, 131.

10http://blogs.christianpost.com/creationvsevolution/was-the-earth-fine-tuned-for-life-1336/

11http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/designss.html

12https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Laidlaw

13http://www.biblebelievers.com/the-reason-why.html

14http://www.thereasonwhy.net/?p=155 For the beginning of Laidlaw’s essay, visit http://www.thereasonwhy.net

15adapted from Ray Comfort, How to Know God Exists, (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2007), 29.

16http://www.abortionfacts.com/facts/8

17http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/02/resistance-to-tyrants-is-obedience-to-god/

18http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/4-videos-that-show-how-planned-parenthood-harms-women

19http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/gop-congresswoman-laments-lack-house-votes-defund-planned-parenthood

20http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/08/03/planned-parenthood-survives-abortion-defunding-vote/

21http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/where-is-the-uproar-over-mutilated-babies/

22http://fairfaxfreecitizen.com/2015/01/18/american-minute-daniel-webster/

23http://www.dakotavoice.com/2009/04/god-is-just-and-his-justice-cannot-sleep-forever/

24http://gospelway.com/god/evidences-creation.php