If there is one issue that will define the summer of 2003 it will be the issue of same sex marriage. If you’ve been living under a rock on June 10 the Ontario Court of Appeal stated that Canada’s marriage laws are unconstitutionally heterosexist, and redefined it as:
“The voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of others”.
Well that set the cat amongst the pigeons, so to speak. At first there didn’t seem to be any great cause for concern because up to this point the only federal legislation that explicitly defined marriage had been passed by parliament in 2000. The Minister of Justice purposely amended Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act by adding the following clause in order to clarify the definition of marriage: For greater certainty, the amendments made by this Act do not affect the meaning of the word “marriage”, that is, the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.
As a matter of fact the then Justice Minister Anne McLellan in parliamentary debates stated that the heterosexual definition of marriage is, “considered clear law by ordinary Canadians, by academics and by the courts. The courts have upheld the constitutionality of that definition.” She went on to say, “… again for the record that the government has no intention of changing the definition of marriage or of legislating same sex marriages.” And she concluded her remarks in the House of Commons with the following: I support the motion for maintaining the clear legal definition of marriage in Canada as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.
The year before on June 9 1999 the Reform party put forward a resolution reaffirming that Parliament defined marriage as the "union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others," and called upon Parliament to "take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada." And it passed 216 to 55.
And so it was pretty safely assumed that the traditional definition of marriage was safe, right? Wrong! Because you know what happens when you assume? That’s right sometimes you are wrong. Which brings us back to the old joke “How can you tell when a politician is lying? Their lips are moving.”
The ink hadn’t even dried on the Court of Appeals decision when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien made this statement: “We won’t be appealing the recent decision on the definition of marriage. Rather, we’ll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it.” What happened to Parliament will take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada?
Hear now and forevermore Bedford Community Church is opposed to same sex marriages, we believe it violates the teachings of scripture and minimizes the institution of marriage and Holy Matrimony. The question then is Why? Why are we against same sex marriage? Some people would argue that we should be opposed to what is happening because a handful of judges in Ontario should not be allowed to dictate policy that is why we have a parliament and that this flies in the face of democracy. As a matter of fact this past Tuesday Stephen Harper leader of the Canadian Alliance Party stated “It is about democracy, it is about the right of the people to make social value judgments and, more
specifically, the right of judgments to be made by the representatives of the people rather than by the judges appointed by the government.”
Well maybe, but if every MP was in favour of same sex marriages along with 99% of Canadians I would still be opposed because it is still wrong.
Let’s start with Marriage: What it is.
Socially: It Protects the Family Let’s start here with some secular definitions The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language mar•riage (mãrʹĭj) noun
1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
Encarta Encyclopaedia Marriage, social institution uniting men and women in special forms of mutual dependence, often for the purpose of founding and maintaining families.
Collins English Dictionary mar•riage (mãrʹĭj) noun
1. The state of being married: relation between husband and wife.
Of all the definitions I read I think I enjoyed Sydney Smith’s the best, Smith was an English Clergyman who lived between 1771 and 1845 and it said “Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated, often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.”
Throughout history and cultures around the world there have been procedures and celebrations set in place that allowed a man and a woman to come together and start a family. In North America that is recognized as our modern Weddings, there is music (Link to music) that when we hear it we immediately think “Wedding” there are words that are said “Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedding husband?” that we automatically think “Wedding” there are clothes that we see them we automatically think “Wedding.” There are even automobiles that when we see them we think “Wedding.” And what we think of as normal might seem a little strange in other lands and other cultures and perhaps even in our own land a couple of generations ago. Weddings have become big business today. Sometimes when I’m talking to a couple who is living together without being married and I query them as to why their response is “We can’t afford to get married.”
No being married doesn’t cost much more then living common-law. The cost of a licence and the preacher pretty much covers it, and if they can’t afford the preacher I’ll do it for nothing. What they can’t afford is the Wedding and that is completely different then a marriage.
In the late eighties a gentlemen in our church in Truro approached the men’s group with a unique appeal, Jack had been a missionary in Zambia several years before where he became a good friend and mentor to a young man. Now the young man was graduating from Bible College and wanted to get married but his future father in-law was asking four cows for his daughter. She was educated as a teacher and so her getting married would hurt the family financially. Now you probably think that is strange and wrong, but in that culture that is all part of the marriage process. Guys without looking at your wife, keeping your eyes straight ahead, how many cows would you have paid? The Wesleyan Men’s group in Truro helped raise the money, they’ve been happily married now for over 15 years and the young man is an ordained minister, has his masters degree from Asbury Seminary in Kentucky and teaches theology at the Bible College he graduated from.
The reason that cultures throughout history have tended to lean toward a monogamous form of marriage was to strengthen society through stable family units. Without some type of formal agreement, there was nothing to hold family units and thus society together.
We are starting to rediscover that with the rising divorce rates, men who are paying child support to children from one or two failed marriages, while not really being fathers. Mom’s who are left raising children but themselves or ending up in blended relationships where parents can’t really function as parents. Is it any wonder that the concept of “till death do we part” was an integral part of society up until the last thirty years.
Whether it is a full blown wedding that cost tens of thousands of dollars or simply jumping the broom marriage is simply a couple affirming their desire to spend the rest of their life with each other and to raise a family.
Religiously: It was ordained by God. It’s interesting to note that in a society that is as non church going and pagan as ours is church weddings are still the way to go for the majority of Canadians. They are looking for the scripture reading, the prayers and the god talk. I’m not sure if it’s seeking to reclaim a little bit of religious heritage, if it’s just considered the right thing to do or if they are just covering all their bases. Something borrowed something new something religious something blue.
And indeed the concept of marriage is the very first human institution. We find it in the scripture that Larry read earlier. After Eve is created Adam says in Genesis 2:23-24 “At last!” Adam exclaimed. “She is part of my own flesh and bone! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken out of a man.” Actually what he said was “Hubba hubba.” The scripture continues by saying This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. 1126 words into the bible, as soon as we have man and woman the concept of marriage is defined. You have two and they come together and you have one. And that oneness was defined by God. It happens emotionally, it happens spiritual and in the act of lovemaking the couple becomes one physically. And that is why within the scripture the act of sex is set apart for husband and wife. Otherwise how can you become one with this person and that person and another person without giving up a little bit of yourself each time?
And so within the religious sense when God created man and woman he created marriage. In verse 25 it says Genesis 2:25 Now, although Adam and his wife were both naked, neither of them felt any shame. It doesn’t say Adam and the woman, or Adam and his girlfriend, it says Adam and his wife. And the same as the social reason it was for the good of the couple, the good of the individuals and the good of the resulting family.
But how long has the church been involved in the actual marriage ceremony? Probably not as long as you would think. The act of getting married has always involved something even if it was as simple as the couple stating that they were married, you say that sounds like they were simply living together. No, they had made a commitment to each other and to their family and to their community as being married, it was not a temporary thing it was a commitment. As society progressed the commitment would often be accompanied by a celebration, remember in John 2:1 The next day Jesus’ mother was a guest at a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. The scriptures don’t tell us about the wedding ceremony simply the wedding celebrations. As a matter of fact if you read through the bible you will see all kinds of references to wedding feasts and wedding celebrations but not to wedding ceremonies.
Up until the ninth century the church was not involved in the mechanics of people becoming married at all, then prayers and blessings were added to the celebration, some by the priest and some by the couple. Around the twelfth century it became customary to ask the parish priest to take part and he would question the couple concerning their intentions but the church still didn’t take an official part.
It really wasn’t until 1563 that the Council of Trent required that Catholic marriages be celebrated at a Catholic church by a priest and before two witnesses. By the eighteenth century marriage had become a religious event throughout Europe.
Spiritually: It’s an Analogy of God’s love for us. In the Old Testament Israel is called God’s bride. Isaiah 62:4-5 Your new name will be the City of God’s Delight and the Bride of God, for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his own. . . Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. Throughout the New Testament the relationship between Christ and His church relies on the analogy of a marriage. In 2 Corinthians 11:2 The Bible says I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. For I promised you as a pure bride to one husband, Christ. In Ephesians 5:25-26 And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word.
And several times in the Revelation the church is called the Bride of Christ.
When the prophet Isaiah was looking for a way to describe the salvation of God listen to the words he chooses Isaiah 61:10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.
Marriage: What it Isn’t. a) It isn’t simply living together. Marriage entails a commitment. Even under the proposed new legislation it says The voluntary union for life. Now you and I know that in 2003 that the technical term for that statement is “A Crock” Even though most wedding vows include a line such as until death do we part, or as long as we both shall live too many marriages last only until one partner or another becomes annoying. But at least there is an illusion of commitment and permanency. People who are living common law will often say I’m not ready for that type of commitment.
b) It isn’t a relationship between more then two people. Again the new legislation will not allow polygamy or bigamy. Although someone once defined multiple divorce as serial polygamy. Marriage is a relationship between two people, one man and one woman. Not three or four or a dozen, but one man and one woman. You might recall that Mark Twain said "The bible speaks very clearly about polygamy when Jesus said no man can serve two masters". To even up the ground here it was Author Erica Jong who said “Bigamy is having one husband too many. Monogamy is the same.”
And I know that in the Old Testament Polygamy is allowed or at least not disallowed and I have not deep insightful explanation for that other then in a time when Israel was fighting for her very survival that women would have outnumbered men because of war casualties and it was allowed to compensate for that.
And regardless of what the Prime Minister or the Ontario Court of Appeal may say c) Marriage is not a union between two people of the same sex. Why not? Because Socially same sex couples cannot produce children and so there is no family to protect. I know there are heterosexual couples who cannot have children but that is the exception not the rule, it is a tragedy not the plan. Other heterosexual couples choose to remain childless and that is a choice they have made. Homosexual couples cannot have children; if they want to reproduce it means they have to go back to the original plan which was one man and one woman. Which makes me wonder if homosexuality is natural and if the same people believe in evolution then why haven’t homosexuals evolved to the place where they can reproduce? Just wondering.
Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism (HOPE) executive director of John McKellar stated “Marriage, is immutable, regardless of whatever else in society changes. We’re talking about an institution whose four prohibitions-you can only marry one person at a time, only someone of the opposite sex, never someone beneath a certain age and not a close blood relative-have been grounded in morality and in the law for millennia.” That was interesting. McKellar also stated Only between 2-4% of Canadians are gay or lesbian, and of those, less than 1% are interested in same-sex marriage or even domestic partnership legislation. In other words, federal and provincial laws are being changed and traditional values are being compromised just to appease a tiny, self-anointed clique."
Stephen Lock, Alberta director for the homosexual lobby group Eagle Canada, concedes that there are "a significant number [of homosexuals] who don’t want to be engaged and be married because they see it as mimicking heterosexual standards."
Religiously: An examination of the historic teachings of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism reveals overwhelming support for the view of marriage as the union of men and women, no official endorsements of the idea of same-sex marriage. Historically it wasn’t there, 5000 years of recorded religious thought, philosophies and regulations and no favourable mention of same sex marriage. You’d think that if it was acceptable that at least one of the five biggies would have recorded something in favour of the idea but no.
And regardless of what some people maintain the scriptures do speak out against homosexual activity. There of course is the one that is brought up time and time again Leviticus 18:22 “Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin.” And people counter with all the dietary and religious regulations in Leviticus that are no longer followed. True but listen to 1 Corinthians 6:18 Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.
And if we want to leave the Old Testament we read things like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers—none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. Not nice company they are keeping. 1 Timothy 1:10-11 These laws are for people who are sexually immoral, for homosexuals and slave traders, for liars and oath breakers, and for those who do anything else that contradicts the right teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.
And in Romans 1:18-28 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. . . That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved.
When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done.
So why do some churches say there is nothing wrong with same sex marriages? Because they have rejected the authority of scripture. Those churches have already stepped over the line in rejecting the virgin birth, the deity and bodily resurrection of Christ and other major doctrines so why should this surprise you? For the past 15 years the United Church of Canada has allowed practising homosexuals to be ordained it would pretty hypocritical if now they said it was wrong. But listen to what the Bible the word of God says Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Pretty well sums it up.
And Spiritually? If homosexuality is wrong and if the Bible speaks out against it and calls it sin, then how can it be analogy for God’s love for us?
But Denn what if homosexuals are born with those desires? First there is no credible evidence that is a fact. And if it is, there are also those who claim that sociopaths are born that way. Does that mean the Paul Bernardos and Ted Bundys of the world can be excused their crimes. If a pedophile claims that is the way he was born do we allow him to molest children?
We all been born with a bent toward sin, whether it’s homosexual sin, heterosexual sin or no sexual sin. But we don’t have to stay that way.
Romans 6:1-2 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
So what does the future hold? I believe that without direct intervention by God that same sex marriage will become a reality, if not now then eventually. Should we stop protesting it? Of course not. Christ called us to be salt and light in a decaying world and that means standing up and saying this is right and this is wrong. And that is not limited to homosexual behaviour, as a church we need to take a stand against sin of all kinds. That does not mean that we reject those who sin, if we did we might as well all go home, but we show and teach them what God is looking for and how they can find forgiveness.
Do I believe the Prime Minister when he says that Parliament will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it. Is the Pope Baptist? Of course I don’t believe him. Listen to what David Frum wrote in the National Review “Listen to this statement on the decision by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien: “We won’t be appealing the recent decision on the definition of marriage. Rather, we’ll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it.”
Those words are extremely important, because it is something close to an iron law of the gay-marriage battle in Canada that whenever the authorities state the such-and-such a thing will never happen, that such-and-such will turn out to be the very thing they concede next.
So today Chrétien promises that his government will never compel churches, synagogues, and mosques to sanctify same-sex marriages. That would be more reassuring if
1) The Ontario human rights commission had not ruled in 2000 that religious conviction was no defence against a charge of discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation;
2) A Saskatchewan court had not held in 2002 that a man could be punished under the province’s hate-crime statute for publishing a newspaper ad in which the only text were four verses from the Bible condemning homosexuality;
3) And a bill were not pending in the Canadian House of Commons right now to make anti-gay “propaganda” a criminal offence.
In other words, Canadians can expect new battles in the years ahead as the authorities impose ever stricter restrictions on their freedom to express traditional views of homosexuality.
If this legislation goes ahead there will come a time that a homosexual couple will take a church to court for refusing to marry them. And the courts will rule against the church. At that point Denn Guptill will turn in his credentials and will no longer marry anyone, what I will do is perform a ceremony of blessing for Christians who have been married by the courts. And if I am told I have to perform that ceremony for homosexuals or go to jail? Then I hope you will visit me when you get a chance.
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If you could build a church for a dollar. . .