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Marriage: A Countercultural Event

03 Apr

The latest (April) issue of the Baptist Magazine should be out soon. Here is my monthly “Minority Report” column for this month.

In January of this year, in the course of two Saturdays in a row, I had the wonderful privilege of officiating for two weddings.  Though it was somewhat challenging to keep the details for the two weddings straight in my mind, like any wedding I officiate they were both a profound joy. The marriage of a young man and a young woman who are standing before God, their families, and friends and declaring their desire, by grace, to enter into the covenant of marriage for a lifetime which has been designed by God to picture the love Christ has for His bride the church is truly glorious.

Yet, I was struck by just how countercultural this “normal” ceremony has become. For, at least, two generations marriage has become disposable in the eyes of many. If you give it a go and it doesn’t work well, just get a divorce and either try again or just stay single. In the very recent past marriage has even been redefined by many to include two people of the same gender. So for a man and a woman to stand up today and enter into a life-long covenant based on the covenant Christ has made with His bride the church is radically countercultural in ways previous generations would never have imagined.

While this is happening I am reading a number of items in print and online where Christians are calling for the church to be radical, to be countercultural, and to strive to redeem and transform culture. Without even getting into the theological legitimacy of “redeeming culture” which I have written about before, I am struck by the irony of all of this.

Simultaneously we have voices, sometimes the same voices, calling us to radically transform culture and to modify our practice of what is today one of the most radically countercultural activities a Christian can do – participate in (as well as teach on and uphold the practice of) a monogamous, lifelong, covenantal, heterosexual marriage!

If your one of the pastors or church leaders or “every day” Christians who is all excited about the potential of radically transforming culture, can I point out what has become amazingly obvious? Stand up and declare that marriage has been designed by God to be between one man and one woman for one lifetime to the praise and glory of Christ – that is profoundly radical and deeply countercultural.

Of course this isn’t terribly surprising really. The gospel is radical and to follow Christ has always been a call to be countercultural.

Marriage was designed by God to picture the covenant between Christ and his bride the church (Eph. 5:32). In this covenant we see the radical truth that all mankind are sinners, completely helpless and unable to do anything to earn forgiveness of sin, yet Christ died satisfying God’s wrath so that all those who repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ alone can receive pardon and the joy of becoming children of the living God.

No wonder something designed by God to picture something so radical and amazing is fundamentally countercultural.

Of course we could redefine marriage to be anything but a covenant between a man and woman so that our practice of marriage looks like the rest of our culture’s and not the Scriptures.

Oh, wait, if we do that not only are we disobedient to the clarity of Scripture on this, but we have just stopped being radically countercultural. Oops!

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