Sixty years is a long time. As we come to the middle of June, my thoughts have turned to the fact that my wife and I have been married for sixty years. Anne and I look at each other in mild disbelief, wondering if this can really be true. But in our sixtieth year, we also are developing a clearer perception about marriage. God really did know what He was doing when He created this one man-one woman relationship. Far from becoming an oppressive relationship to be endured, it is, by God’s design, something that can make life so very pleasant. In thinking about our marriage, it has caused me to reflect on two things that might be valuable to think about: (1) God’s design for marriage; and (2) the counterfeits of marriage that Satan is growing in our culture, that of transgenderism and homosexuality.
God’s Design and Principles for Marriage. 90% of marital problems would cease if husbands and wives would apply God’s marital principles. God originated the concept of a permanent union of one man and one woman, and He revealed the operating principles that would allow a marriage to function well and produce some really good results. These operating principles are not difficult to understand. There are no “secrets” to good marriages. (The principles in Eph. 5 are not for general male-female relationships, but for the home). The Apostle Paul (Eph. 5:22-33) instructed husbands to give leadership to their wives in their home and to “love” her; that is, to always pursue what is best for her. The wife is instructed to submit to her husband’s leadership (which is her aligning with God’s order of home government), and to do so with a good attitude. Pretty simple actually. Of course, in real life it doesn’t seem so simple. So at this point, we should mention four important truths.
First, because of the fall of man in Eden, everyone is incurably selfish and that includes Christians. The very core of our sinfulness is our self-centeredness. We want what we want when we want it. Often when a spouse does not bring happiness, then consideration is given to getting rid of that spouse and getting a new one. This is not a great idea. The fact is that no human has the ability to make someone happy. The kind of inner contentment only comes when a believer “abides in Christ”. Jesus was pretty clear about this. (Read again, Jesus’ insightful words in John 15:1-12).
Second, one’s focus must not be on the spouse (that is, on their inadequacies and failures) but on me and my fulfilling of God’s marital principles. This is the absolute game-changer. Many marriages have made a 180 degree turn when those involved chose to look at themselves instead of their spouses. God blesses obedience to His principles, and He can do some pretty wonderful things when husbands and wives decide to major on their obedience to God’s commands for them. Of course, it is always easier to love a wife when she is loveable, and to submit to a husband who is respectable. However, if that is not the case, obedience is still a necessity.
Third, all are in great need for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in order to obey God’s marital principles. Apart from a dependence on the Spirit, no man or woman in this fallen world has the staying power or discipline to fulfill God’s commands. However, many a man and many a woman who has chosen to obey has found that they are enabled by the Holy Spirit to do that which seemed impossible.
Satan’s Counterfeits of Marriage. The Evil One cannot remove the desire for intimacy from the human heart. Nor can he get rid of the feeling of loneliness which comes when intimacy is absent. God’s plan for marriage can provide intimacy with another and hold loneliness at arm’s length. The Devil understands this. His hatred for God and for human beings motivates him to damage and destroy God’s good plan by bringing in counterfeits. As a result, the Evil One promotes homosexual and lesbian relationships as good and acceptable. And he promotes transgenderism as a way to remove confusion and distress and bring happiness to an individual. These are direct attacks on God’s perfect marital plan for mankind. And in spite of the hype, these do not bring satisfaction and fulfillment to people. Jesus defined marriage as one man and one woman (Matt. 12:4), giving no allowance for these counterfeits. Some thoughts about these counterfeits.
First, the Bible supplies the framework for understanding both matters of homosexuality and transgenderism. The physical creation of today is out of sync with the original creation. When man fell everything was affected; spiritually, mentally, relationally and physically. It should not surprise us that as the culture moves farther away from God’s standards that counterfeit ideas emerge. Sexual confusion and identity are not new things, though its prominence is new in our culture. The thinking of today is not new, but is basically Gnosticism repackaged. Gnosticism was the ancient philosophy that a person can obtain (through various means) a special and unique inner knowledge. So that truth, which is unique and special, is what I think and what I feel. And, therefore, it trumps reality. Gnosticism always produces that which is chaotic and damaging. It does not result in joy, satisfaction and fulfillment. Because of sin’s entrance into the human experience, we can understand why people are damaged in every way, including how they think.
Second, homosexuality is clearly condemned in the Bible. However, there seems to be a growing number of churches who are unwilling to declare this. And their silence is dangerous. These seem to have forgotten Ephesians 6:14, where followers of Christ are to put on the belt of truth and stand firm in this spiritual war with the Devil and his forces. The truth withheld keeps people from the freedom that is in Jesus Christ. People need the truth of Scripture. Any normal reading of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 makes it clear that homosexual behavior is viewed by God as “detestable” and “abominable.” Any normal reading of Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 or 1 Timothy 1:10 reveals that this sin is seen as unrighteousness that will bring a response from God. Today, we repeatedly hear that God loves the homosexual and that He does not hate them. That is true. The sin, however, is not loved unless God has changed His mind on the matter. The Bible states that there are consequences for the one who remains in this sinful state. When there is no turning from this lifestyle, God does abandon them to their sin and its painful consequences. True freedom is found in Christ’s deliverance, but it is not found experimenting with “alternate lifestyles.”
Third, transgenderism results from gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is generally a dissatisfaction and unhappiness with one’s gender. It is part of the consequences resulting from the Fall. The Fall has deeply impacted man’s thinking. We must not forget that the physical creation of today is out of sync with the original creation. And erroneous thinking is part of that. The ultimate solution to transgenderism is not to change one’s body, but to find freedom and satisfaction in Jesus Christ. Altering the body surgically or with hormones cannot change the underlying reality of a person’s biological make-up. A man cannot really become a woman, nor can a woman really become a man. Changing the outside does not change the inside, as many who have “transitioned” have discovered. Transgenderism disfigures God’s good plan for human sexuality and interaction. Living in a falsehood will never bring satisfaction, joy and fulfillment.
Fourth, how does a Bible believer respond to these issues. While often dialogue with those in the “Pride” camp seems unlikely, we need to be ready to speak truth to them. We must remember that people don’t need our opinions, but they need the truth of the Bible. The authority of the Bible is great and the Scriptures in the hands of the powerful Holy Spirit, can change people. We have the responsibility of giving a reasoned, biblical explanation for these matters. In speaking the needed truth of the Bible, we need the attitude that Paul presents in 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
“AND THE LORD’S BOND SERVANT MUST NOT BE QUARRELSOME, BUT BE KIND TO ALL, ABLE TO TEACH, PATIENT WHEN WRONGED, WITH GENTLENESS CORRECTING THOSE WHO ARE IN OPPOSITION, IF GOD MAY GRANT THEM REPENTANCE LEADING TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, AND THEY MAY COME TO THEIR SENSES AND ESCAPE FROM THE SNARE OF THE DEVIL, HAVING BEEN HELD CAPTIVE BY HIM TO DO HIS WILL.”
While we might rightly hate what is going on in our country as we witness a sharp and dramatic moral decline, we are first followers of Jesus Christ who are in this culture for such a time as this. People in our culture may not know it, but they need our Jesus.