Due to the passage of the Marriage Amendment Bill in New Zealand last week legalising gay marriage, some Christians are suggesting the church discard the term “marriage” for a new term so as to clarify what we are meaning is not what “marriage” is being redefined to mean.
Here are a few brief thoughts on this.
I am not in favour of inventing a new term for marriage.
Firstly, I don’t think it is even remotely possible. One would be hard pressed to find an example of where a group has purposely sought to invent a new term for a social structure which has succeeded even in one country/language, let alone across cultures/languages. There have been many such terms which have entered our vocabulary, but they have, not due to some purposeful effort, but simply due to use.
Secondly, I do not see a biblical precedent to do so. Even the Greek word for church in the New Testament (ekkleÒsia) wasn’t a new term, but a term that already existed in the culture that God invested with new meaning. (In Acts 19:32 the word is translated “assembly” ESV for a riotous mob.)
Thirdly, we are instructed by Christ to live in the World, but to not be of the world. It is hard to see how we as Christians are living in the world and speaking into the world with counter-cultural truth if we seek to create new terms rather than giving the correct meaning to existing terms.
I have great concerns from our culture, our country, our churches, and our families. The future has many questions for which I do not know the answers at this time. I expect things will get worse (2 Timothy 3:1). Yet, as 2 Peter 3 informs us, though scoffers will come, our Saviour will return and He will save his children finally and completely, while judging those who have rejected him.