Rebuilding a Marriage Culture: A Fourfold Mission for the Church

We need to live out the truth about marriage and human sexuality

“The church needs to present a case for biblical sexuality that is appealing and that engages the best of modern thought. The virtues of chastity and lifelong marriage are enriching, but after fifty years, the church has still not devised a compelling response to the sexual revolution.”

 

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, redefining marriage everywhere in the United States, has left many of us wondering: What do we do now? In my just-released book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, I present a comprehensive roadmap on how citizens of every walk of life should respond to the Court’s ruling. Here I want to suggest four things the church in particular should do to help rebuild a strong marriage culture. After all, the church—either through action or inaction—will play a major role in the debate over the meaning of marriage.

First, the church needs to present a case for biblical sexuality that is appealing and that engages the best of modern thought. The virtues of chastity and lifelong marriage are enriching, but after fifty years, the church has still not devised a compelling response to the sexual revolution. The legal redefinition of marriage could take place when and where it did only because the majority of Americans lacked a sound understanding of the nature of man and the nature of marriage.

The church needs to find a way to capture the moral imagination of the next generation. It needs to make the truth about human sexuality and its fulfillment in marriage not only attractive and appealing, but noble and exhilarating. This is a truth worth staking one’s life on.

In the face of the seduction of cohabitation, no-fault divorce, extra-marital sex, nonmarital childbearing, pornography, and the hook-up culture, what can the church offer as a more fulfilling, more humane, more liberating alternative? Until it finds an answer, the church will make no headway in the same-sex marriage debate, which is the fulfillment of those revolutionary sexual values.

A proper response to the sexual revolution also requires engaging—not ignoring—the best of contemporary thought, especially the best of contemporary secular thought. What visions of the human person and sex, of marriage and personal wholeness do today’s thinkers advance? Exactly where and why do their ideas go wrong? The church needs to show that the truth is better than a lie. And that the truth can defeat all lies. I provide a philosophical defense of the truth in Truth Overruled, we need theologians to continue developing theological defenses.

In these efforts, we shouldn’t discount the potential of slumbering Christian communities to wake up. It’s easy to forget that, in 1973, the Southern Baptists were in favor of abortion rights and supported Roe v. Wade. Today they are at the forefront of the pro-life movement. Christians who are on the wrong side of the marriage debate today can change their minds if we help them.

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