Marriage, Divorce, and Homosexuality

protectmarriageillinois_2You’ve probably heard or read about homosexuals comparing the profaning of marriage to divorce.

When the Pharisees asked Christ if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife, He reiterated what marriage is: the union of a man — who leaves his mother and father — and a woman, who becomes his wife.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Unlike homosexuality, however, where God gives certain of these sinners over to the “lusts in their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves…” and “gave them up to vile passions,” God allows divorce, because of the hardness of our hearts.

“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Anyone who divorces for any reason other than infidelity is sinning. God makes no such exception for deviant sexual behavior. But these sinners all have the same option: they can repent.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote about his denomination voting to “disfellowship” a congregation that accepted and affirmed the sin of homosexuality and homosexual “marriage.” He points out the hypocrisy of Christians who don’t do the same to people who’ve divorced outside the sexual immorality exception.

The charge of hypocrisy is valid in some respects….A recovery of a Christian ethic of marriage will mean repentance, and a strong commitment by churches to courageously say, where applicable, what John the Baptist put his head on a platter to say to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” In that sense, the charge is correct.

The second issue, though, is what repentance looks like in these cases. Take the worst-case scenario of an unbiblically divorced and remarried couple. Suppose this couple repents of their sin and ask to be received, or welcomed back, into the church. What does repentance look like for them? They have, in this scenario, committed an adulterous act (Matt. 5:32-33). Do they repent of this adultery by doing the same sinful action again, abandoning and divorcing one another? No. In most cases, the church recognizes that they should acknowledge their past sin and resolve to be faithful from now on to one another. Why is this the case? It’s because their marriages may have been sinfully entered into, but they are, in fact, marriages.

Divorced people can repent of the sin of an unlawful divorce. Remarried couples who divorced unlawfully can repent and remained married. But repentance of homosexuality would mean turning away from the sin of homosexuality. Moore is correct that we’ve tolerated a culture of divorce in the church. That is on us to fix, but redefining marriage to include two people of the same sex because we feel guilty about it is the wrong answer.

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