Marriage: Believers must vote consciences
Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN, the newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. John Mark Yeats is pastor of Normandale Baptist Church in Fort Worth and is an adjunct professor of church history at Southwestern.
In the shifting tides of our culture, the question of the definition of marriage is front and center. When given the chance to choose, voters have overwhelmingly stated they are in favor of protecting the traditional view of marriage as one-man, one woman. Traditional marriage matters to the general populace. It should matter even more to Christians!
Here’s the rub—politicians, judges, representatives at the 2012 Democratic Convention, and the current president disagree. Strongly. This should make a difference for believers as we cannot underestimate the realities that a particular worldview brings to those who govern and lead our nation.
Let’s look at a few of these intersections and why they matter in our voting choices:
• Marriage has a particular design: One man. One woman. Together for life. It’s not a slogan. It’s the truth of Scripture. While our society may want to change the marriage status to reflect the general category of love—the heart wants what it wants as many claim—Scripture does not agree. Marriage is designed for a man and a woman to covenant together for the purposes of honoring God, enjoying one another, encouraging one another and serving one another. It shapes us and causes us to grow and mature as individuals and becomes the foundation for the family. (Genesis 2:24) God created marriage for our pleasure and for our good. A re-definition of God’s design for marriage rejects what is best for ourselves and our society.
• Marriage is the foundational building block for society: The church has always contended that marriage is the best foundation for society. Marriage builds families. Families form communities. Healthy families and communities create healthy and affluent societies. Marriage provides the essential, fertile context for growing individuals. Sociological studies prove that children in homes with a healthy marriage are more successful and have a greater potential for the future.1 Every vote we cast makes a statement about what we believe will create a better today and tomorrow. Building a better tomorrow through stronger families and stronger marriages will provide the stability needed no matter what economic realities our country faces.
• Marriage has a permanent design: For Christians who uphold the realities of Scripture, this is a non-negotiable. From the creation of humanity in the Garden of Eden, God crafted beautifully and wonderfully. God designed both male and female to glorify him through an intimate “one flesh” bond. Jesus talked about the importance of marriage and the unique bond between husband and wife. In the eyes of Christ, that bond contains such significance, it is never to be severed (Matthew 5:32, 19:3-10; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:2-12).
• Marriage still matters: One of the criticisms against traditional marriage is that the institution as expressed in our society is broken. Should the broken state of marriage negate the God-centered design? No matter how broken the institution of marriage may become in society as a whole, it doesn’t change the reality that God designed it for our good. Our rejection of God’s design erodes the foundation that he created for it. We have deluded ourselves to think pre-marital sex, extra-marital affairs and pornography are somehow “normal.” It isn’t to God. He designed what he knew would be best for us. Marriage is worth fighting for!
• Marriage under attack: Because marriage matters to God, it should matter to us and, consequently, to our candidates. You see, when we vote for a candidate, he or she will become an advocate for the positions he or she espouses. If a candidate denies the biblical foundation for traditional marriage, that same candidate will tend to put pressure on the same institution. Do not expect neutrality. The pressure is high in our day to re-negotiate what marriage means. We are forgetting that the price is too high! Not taking a stand on this issue today may even lead to religious persecution later as we teach the biblical standards on marriage and sexual relationships.
In the end, candidates may not always line up directly with our biblical worldview. It may even feel as if we are left to choose between a “lesser of two evils.” With our God-given freedoms that we enjoy here in America, we are responsible as believers to vote our conscience. Do your research and find the right candidates. Make sure you vote. This election makes a difference!