Monday, August 27, 2007

Was the Church the First to Change the Definition of Marriage?

He denies that Jesus is Messiah, and calls the President of my alma mater a “spiritual racist” because of his belief that Jesus is the only way to God. Needless to say, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is one of the last people with whom I thought I would ever agree!

Last Thursday evening was like most Thursday evenings for me: I came home from a day at the office to take my wife to the gym, my kids to the child care center in the gym, and myself to the treadmill (ugh!), and then the pool (ahh!).

I love my gym membership, by the way . . .especially the way all the treadmills are tied in to television screens. It’s a multi-tasking dream! And while watching a special CNN report called “God, Sex and Greed,” I caught a panel discussion regarding the injection of “faith talk” into the political speeches of the 2008 Presidential hopefuls. Host Roland Martin was emphasizing the fact that as we approach the 2008 elections, Democrats are ratcheting up talk about their faith in God, and in doing so entering a conversation that has for many election cycles been dominated by Republicans. Joining him to discuss this interesting phenomenon were liberal Baptist Theology Professor Michael Dyson, Muslim author Irshad Manji, and Rabbi Boteach.

Asked to give his perception of this phenomenon, Boteach responded, “The problem, Roland, is that for the past 10 years, religious morality has been defined as anti-abortion and hating gay people.”

Suddenly, the heart monitor on my treadmill began to beep.

Thankfully, I continued to listen. And surprisingly, in spite of all my disagreements with the Rabbi, my heart resonated with what I heard next:

“. . . .And in a sense, religion has become a mockery as a result. We've got a 50 percent divorce rate. Any country with a 50 percent divorce rate has no right to call itself civilized. Who do we blame? The gay people. I mean, we ruined marriage well before any gay people decided to get married.”

Sadly, the Rabbi is absolutely correct! While conservative politicians scream about the efforts of some in the homosexual community to “re-define marriage,” the fact is that our society has been tinkering with God’s definition for decades . . .long before any homosexual ever demanded the benefit of this rite. Fornication, adultery, and divorce are in fact nothing more than acts which pervert God’s definition of this sacred relationship.

So in a sense, the Rabbi is correct when he contends that marriage has been a mockery in America for decades. The current discussion about homosexual marriage isn’t the beginning of the “re-definition of marriage.” It is its culmination! And when the divorce, premarital sex and adultery rates are virtually the same inside the church as they are outside the church, the people of God have lost their authority to speak prophetically to this issue.

This is precisely the reason why Al Mohler, in discussing this same subject, rightly contends that evangelicals “cannot begin a conversation about homosexual marriage by talking about homosexual marriage.” Reclaiming God’s definition of marriage means not only that we flatly reject the idea of homosexual nuptials as a tragic oxymoron, but that we also refuse to “wink” at the sins against this God-ordained institution that have occurred for years within our own midst. Such reclamation means that the church must again judge marriage according to the Scriptures, and such judgment, as the Apostle Peter tells us, begins with the household of God!

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