Several Christian fights have been going on in the market place and yet do they really come from the Bible or our own bigotry? One is the fight against those who choose a committed relationship outside of state or church control. The other is the fight to remove access to condoms among young people. Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong supporter of traditional legal marriage and of sexual abstinence until marriage, but let’s get things straight. We are in the forgiveness business, not the prevention of sin business.
Let’s tackle the condom issue first. Theology teaches us that we are incapable of resisting sin prior to conversion and even after conversion none of us can claim perfect obedience to God. In a society with old fashioned censorship and grandma as a chaperon, perhaps even the most amorous young people might have had a chance to remain virgins until marriage, but that is no longer reality. Our society constantly pumps out sexual enticement. Even with the wonderful help of the Holy Spirit, we all fail to live perfectly sinless lives in all areas of life.
By taking condoms away from young people we are asking them to live lives of sinless perfection before most of them even come to conversion. Even in the garden of Eden, God warned Adam and Eve not to partake of the forbidden fruit, but did not handcuff them. Taking condoms away is like telling our children not to eat, but filling the fruit with razor blades. God was even gracious to them after they sinned and provided clothing.
When our children were young, we taught them that premarital sex was foolish, but we also taught them not to be doubly foolish and do so without protection. Yet, many naive Christians would expose their own children to dangerous diseases and unwanted pregnancies by imagining that they can control themselves by just saying no. That is incredibly stupid if you ask me, not to mention irresponsible and unloving. Not even the most dedicated and mature Christians filled with the Holy Spirit are that successful in avoiding sin.
The second issue above is that of marriage. It seems that we are more interested in preserving our modern idea of marriage than the biblical ideal. Do we realize that our modern ideal is completely different than marriage in the Bible? Old Testament marriages often consisted of two people just entering one tent for the night with family consent. Even in the early New Testament period it was a family affair and neither the state’s nor the church’s business. That came much later in Christian history. Yet, in an age when we see the meaning of family eroded, it seems that we have not thought this through.
Granted, Christians ought to submit to the state, but a state-approved marriage is no reason to discredit those who choose an informal, biblical-style marriage. Granted, I would always recommend that a couple gain the legal protection that goes with a state-recognized marriage, but I will never discriminate against those who choose otherwise, nor make them feel that they are somehow of less standing in the congregation. I would also recommend that people have a church marriage so that they can experience God’s blessing from the beginning, just as I’m sure God must have blessed Adam and Eve that Friday night. However, I will also welcome those who have chosen otherwise and offer the church’s blessing afterward, if they wish to have it.