Marriage, DOMA, and a Silver Anniversary

Marriage was on our collective minds this past Wednesday. For me, it was the celebration of my silver wedding anniversary: my wife and I had been married twenty-five years on that day and I couldn't be more grateful. For most of America, however, this past Wednesday, June 26, was a day in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down several provisions of California's "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), Proposition 8. The door is widening in our country to allow more and more same-sex couples to move toward legally-sanctioned and -supported marriages. Some are overjoyed. Some are outraged. For some this is an equal-rights moment akin to other moments in national history. For others this is a harbinger of social apocalypse.

I was surprised by the tone of several evangelical spokespersons, who commented on last week's historical decision. Where I would've expected stridency, angst, and hand-wringing, I saw soul-searching and a welcome humility. This excerpt from Christianity Today was particularly noteworthy:

" 'The gay and lesbian people in your community aren't part of some global 'Gay Agenda' conspiracy. They aren't super-villains in some cartoon. They are, like all of us, seeking a way that seems right to them," said Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention's voice on ethics and political issues. 'This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing.'

"Moore, like Focus on the Family president Jim Daly and others we heard from, wanted to talk about the court decisions as opportunities, not defeats. They agree that same-sex marriage is a large-scale social experiment that's likely to have negative consequences. They agree that the biblical image of marriage and the shifting reality of marriage have significantly diverged. But that means that Christians have a chance to have different marriages that bear witness to the redeeming, sacrificial gospel. 'The single greatest argument we can present to the world on this issue of marriage is to personally live out marriage in all its God-ordained fullness and radiant beauty,' said Daly. Moore agreed: 'We have the opportunity, by God's grace, to take marriage as seriously as the gospel does, in a way that prompts the culture around us to ask why.'"
--“The Right Side of History Is Full of Rewrites”, Christianity Today,

This seems right to me. In the church, while we may have different opinions on gay marriage, we're certainly challenged to put our own house in order first: to give attention to the way our heterosexual marriages are (or are not) giving witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. With our Christian divorce rate no better than secular society, we are often rightly accused of hypocrisy when it comes to preaching on the sanctity of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. I'm challenged to reinvest in my marriage. I'm humbled by my shortcomings as a husband. Most of all, I want this next twenty-five years to be more effective in blessing others as my wife and I use our marriage as a place of ministry, caring, and compassion. That marriage will not need to be defended. Hopefully, it will speak for itself.