Tom Gilson

Biblical and Secular Reasons for Man-Woman Marriage: Introduction

I’ve been looking forward to this series for a long time: Biblical and Secular Reasons for Man-Woman Marriage. I’ve plotted out a preliminary table of contents, where you’ll see I expect to have quite a lot to say.

Fault LIne: Source http://www.flickr.com/photos/tillnm/3785385836/sizes/z/in/photostream/

On the Fault Line

This is a defining issue for our day. It is by no means a strictly religious issue; hence the secular reasons, which will take up much more than the majority of what I will write. Nevertheless it sits squarely on the fault line between religion (esp. Christianity) and secularism.

I’ve already written on why I think this has fallen out this way, and I’ll have more to say on it later in this series. In the meantime, though, we have to recognize that for a lot of people, opposition to same-sex “marriage” (SSM) is evil, and therefore Christianity is evil. Part of what I hope to do in this series is to vindicate the goodness of God in Jesus Christ, the one God revealed in the Bible, the perfect One whom Christians imperfectly follow and worship.

Starting with the Secular

I won’t be starting with biblical reasons, though. One reason might already be apparent: if we use the Bible to show that the Bible is good, that’s walking dangerously close to circular reasoning. It would mean almost nothing to people who don’t already accept the Bible’s authority. There are ways to use the Bible without falling into that fallacy, but they depend on a lot of prior groundwork being laid.

Defining “Secular”

When I speak of secular reasoning for these purposes, I don’t mean something that’s separate from good biblical thinking. Good thinking is good thinking; and if the Bible is true (as it is), its truth reigns over all thinking. But with that in mind, still there are ways to think truly and well about marriage that don’t require one to believe in the Bible. That’s what I mean by secular reasons: reasons that don’t expect a person to believe in the Bible or in any religious authority.

So besides the circularity issue, there are plenty of other reasons to begin with the secular.

  • It’s where our children live, most of them: in a very secular world. To know how to interact with that world on its own terms is to be much better equipped for the secular onslaught.
  • It’s where the public debate is happening. We’ve lost (or given up) the right to bring religious reasoning into political discussion. We have to make our case in secular terms
  • It has a higher chance of convincing secularists, since it calls on them to take one less step. They can accept the reason without having to first accept the Bible’s truth or authority.
  • It can be a bridge to Christ. Some people have rejected Christianity because they see it as harmful. Why would they want to become evil like Christianity is, as they see Christianity? But once they can see for themselves that it lines up with what is truly good, they’ll have one less major obstacle separating them from Christ.

The Purpose of This Series

I hope to accomplish two things in this series. I’ll be aiming toward pastors and teachers in all that I write here, and of course I hope to give you teaching resources you can use in sermons, lectures, classes, and small groups. At the same time I intend to make this readable for all, so that you can send anyone here with questions.

So if you were hoping I’d dive straight into the issues in this introductory post, all I’ve really done has been to set the stage and provide a list of reasons for man-woman marriage.

That list of topics will undoubtedly change as time goes on. You can expect to hear from Phil and Alex more than once along the way.

By the time it’s done, I hope to have a book’s worth of material, in an indexed and very user-accessible format.

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3 thoughts on “Biblical and Secular Reasons for Man-Woman Marriage: Introduction

  1. What I find interesting is when people try to make the analogy of comparing gay marriage to the abolition of slavery. There can be no more false comparison that I can imagine.

    Slaves were owned by other human beings and every single right and freedom that humans were granted by God were being denied by other men. Gays are NOT being held captive today. They can vote, own property, switch jobs, move their residence and enjoy other freedoms that slaves could not, under penalty of law. And gays could never marry in the first place, thus they’re not being denied something they’ve always had.

    Further, no one is attempting to stop gay weddings. The police do not patrol churches and when they come across a gay wedding barge in and arrest anyone. No such event is taking place anywhere. Most states do not recognize gay marriages as actual marriages which seems more about benefits and social acceptance than anything else. So again, the analogy is a false one; gays are not being hunted or oppressed for living their lives.

    I’m not going to address the merits/demerits of gay marriage here, I’m just pointing out that there is no analogy to comparing it to slavery.

  2. Tom, I appreciate all your material on this subject. I will be using much of it in our Ratio Christi group at Rutgers as we prepare for Ethics Week. Our topic is Sexual/Family/Marriage Ethics, with speakers Ryan Anderson and Kellie Fiodorek. Do you know of other resources that would help me cover Sexual Ethics in particular?

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