I’ve thought for a while now that as gay marriage becomes increasingly tolerated (even celebrated) in our culture, the Christian vision of marriage (not conservative, not liberal, but gospel-oriented) will become both an enigma and mysteriously attractive. People really have no idea what it is!
Jay Michaelson, the author (who is pro-same-sex marriage) of this article understands that the narrative underlying the same-sex marriage issue will not lead to liberation or conservation of marriage—but rather to an unpredictable change in the way we view the institution of marriage as a culture, and with unforeseen consequences. Same-sex marriage, he says, will necessarily change the marriage institution. His vision of marriage utopia is pluralistic, multi-cultural, relativistic. This is his “gospel” of marriage. Definitely not the Bible’s vision. Understand Richardson wants marriage to be an institution that embodies truth, goodness, beauty, and especially loving equality. He finds no hope in the conservative or libertarian versions of marriage. Christians agree, including myself. But the only alternative he envisions is gay marriage. He hopes it will reform and redeem marriage from what we have let it become. I think his solution pales in comparison to the Bible’s gospel-oriented view of marriage. Marriage as the Bible describes is a better (the best!) solution, and it is nothing like the media portrays it.
Marriage, according to the Christian vision, is a picture of Jesus Christ’s relationship with the Church because Jesus is a bridegroom and the Church is his bride. While Christ is the “head” of his bride, he gives himself for her, even dying for her! That is why the Church, his bride, willingly submits to her “head” as her husband. No abusive patriarchal nonsense here. No libertarian equality either. But that’s not bad news. The Christian vision of marriage, the way God designed and intended it for our good and his glory, is filled with love, sacrifice, headship, and submission modeled on Christ’s relationship to the Father, mystically imaged in the Christ-Church marriage, and embodied in the marriage of husband and wife. Marriages built on this foundation and committed to this vision have the greatest potential for truth, beauty, and goodness. If you’ve experienced or witnessed a gospel-oriented marriage, then you’ve surely glimpsed the glory of Christ loving his precious, chosen bride the Church. It’s beautiful. It’s something to attain to. It’s something to wait for. It’s something to hope in. It is a theater displaying the truth, beauty, and goodness of the gospel.
The world looks on marriage as an institution of masculine or feminine dominance, or as an egalitarian partnership shaped by the arrangements of the contractual parties. The gospel-oriented marriage is not even on the radar screen. Which is ironic since this is what marriage is for and what God designed it to be: picturing the gospel. Now it’s the church’s job to winsomely teach and demonstrate this. We need to get ready. The times they are a’changin’.