Marital Gnosticism in Evangelicalism

As many of you know, I have been concerned about a disturbing trend in the Evangelical church which has been exalting marriage to unscriptural proportions. Much of this has to do with the way in which marriage is being attacked in today’s society. Of course, we all know of the unscholarly rant of Dan Savage, and the bigotry displayed by unbelievers and the oxymoronic self-professed “liberal Christians” towards the passage of the North Carolina marriage amendment. However, what I have been concerned about is the fact that we are going to far the *other* way, and exalting marriage to a position far beyond what it was meant to be.

For example, just recently I talked to a guy who was getting married. My main message to him was balance, and remembering that there were certain things, such as continuing to grow as a Christian, and learning more from God’s word, that are infinitely more important than his marriage. I wanted to encourage him to continue to put God first even after marriage. However, I got a completely different attitude from the rest of the people who know him. Good grief, it was, seemingly, all anyone could talk about for a long time! Then, when it did happen, all I could hear about is that it *did* happen! It is the same thing when people have children. It seems like, when someone finds out that they or their wife are pregnant, it is all anyone can talk about.

Of course, I am not saying that these things are not good things in and of themselves. Indeed, they are, and God says they are. I am also not saying that it is wrong to congratulate these folks. The problem is the obsession that we have today in the church about these things. It seems that, if one of believer discovered the cure for cancer or deciphered Linear A or the Indic Script at the same time a couple was getting married, the marriage would be on everyone’s lips, but the fact that this person discovered a cure for cancer, or deciphered a script that could open up a whole new world into our knowledge of history would go largely unnoticed. I have to ask, “At what point do we exalt marriage so much that we loose our balance?” That is something that people have not thought about.

For example, I was reading a discussion on homosexuality where someone was using the Bible to defend the orthodox notion that homosexuality is wrong, and one of the leftists who doesn’t want to believe what the Torah says about this subject brought up the fact that the Bible prescribes the death penalty for homosexuality. People said that this does not make any sense, because the Bible is prescribing the death penalty for a mere sexual sin. I mean, with the prevalence of sexual sin today, isn’t it a little unfair of the Bible to be saying that this particular sexual sin should get the death penalty? I will admit, because I was so focused on marriage, and refuting homosexuality because of its violation of the way God created man and woman, and joined them together in matrimony, that I completely missed the obvious answer to this question. I mean, I checked all of my books on Biblical backgrounds, looked at similar laws regarding sexuality in the Ancient Near East, etc. I simply could not figure out why it is that God required the death penalty for homosexual behavior.

When the mask finally came off is when I considered what the act of sodomy involves. The mere act of sodomy itself involves a ripping and tearing apart of the anal area. However, because this is the only way in which homosexuals can have sexual relations, over time, this area gets ripped apart more and more and more, and it will leave the person susceptible to diseases. Hence, what the one partner is doing is killing the other partner slowly over time, by making it impossible for his body to defend against disease. In other words, consider the act of sodomy much like a wife who kills off her husband slowly over time by putting small traces of cyanide in his coffee every morning.

However, that is the case if only the act of sodomy has been committed. Consider the fact that most homosexuals today go *well* beyond the mere act of sodomy. In an article by Dr. Bernard J. Klamecki, a proctologist for more than 30 years, entitled Medical Perspective of the Homosexual Issue, he writes the following:

I know well the medical and surgical pathology directly related to the sexual practices typical of active homosexuals, particularly anal intercourse (sodomy) and oral intercourse (fellatio)…. Sexual practices typical of homosexuals can affect the oral cavities, lungs, penis, prostate, bladder, anus, perianal areas outside of the rectum, rectum, colon, vagina, uterus, pelvic area, brain, skin, blood, immune system, and other body systems…. While none of the following practices is unique to homosexuals, they are nonetheless typical…. Most common is anal intercourse (sodomy)….Foreign objects are often used in order to produce a different erotic sensation or to instigate a more violent sexual activity (sadomasochism). Objects that I have removed from the rectum and lower bowel include corn cobs, light bulbs, vibrators, soda bottles, and varied wooden sticks. “Fisting” is when a fisted hand is inserted into the rectum, sometimes as far as the elbow, which produces varied sexually exciting sensations, strongly linking eroticism with pain…. Oral intercourse (fellatio) is when the tongue is used to lick or tickle the outlet of the rectum for sexual excitement, arousing, or foreplay. Needless to say, bacteria may contaminate and infect the mouth. One other sexual practice is “Water Sports,” in which urinating into the mouth or rectum is used as a sexual stimulant. Physical damage to the rectum may occur because of some of these practices….There is an antinatural activity being performed when the rectum is the recipient of a penis or foreign object. Because of this activity, cracking of the tissue (fissuring), open sores (ulcers), boils (abscesses), and other infections can occur in the skin of the surrounding tissues…. Persistent anal-rectal sexual activity can lead to various pre-cancerous lesions such as Bowen’s disease and Kaposi’s sarcoma. Whenever tissues are traumatized, cracked, or abraded, they are vulnerable to bacterial infection. [cited in Gudel, Joseph P. Is Homosexuality a Healthy Lifestyle? Christian Research Institute. 2009]

In essence, what this doctor is point out, and what we must consider carefully, is that homosexuality is a physical attack, which will kill someone over a period of time. No one would hesitate to give the death penalty to the wife who seeks to kill her husband over a long period of time by traces of cyanide in his coffee. Yet, we shriek in horror at the death penalty being given to someone who engages in a physical attack which kills someone over a long period of time, all because they are doing it under the facade of “love” and “tolerance.” No, they don’t want to face up to the fact that their actions are actually destroying themselves and their partner, because it would break their personal peace. That is what makes people “bigoted,” “intolerant,” and “promoting stereotypes.” In reality, the reason why the Bible gives the death penalty for homosexuality is the same reason it gives the death penalty for a woman seeking to poison her husband slowly over time by putting traces of cyanide in his coffee. Both are viscous assaults upon the life of the other person. The homosexual might say he is performing these acts out of “love,” but the woman who is poisoning her husband could likewise say the same thing. All it means is that the whole mindset is twisted. It is grossly twisted to think that such an attack is “love.” No, it is gross, unbridled, murderous lust. Hence, God gives the death penalty to those who will not repent of such behavior.

My point is not merely to defend the Bible’s prescription of the death penalty for homosexuality, but to show the point that I was missing it because so many of the arguments against homosexuality come from marriage, and not from the fact that this action is an attack on human life. I completely missed it. In reality, the death penalty for homosexuals is something that goes back to the command “You shall not murder.” Homosexuality is a gross violation of that command, and thus, gives the death penalty. However, it is only remotely related to marriage and the definition of marriage, and God’s creative design for sexuality. While the latter might be relevant, in that God did not create people for acts of sodomy, the more pressing issue is what the partners do to one another when they depart from God’s created design. I must admit, although I have been leading the charge in trying to keep marriage in perspective, I totally missed it.

When you have this kind of lack of balance, it really hurts the way we look at scripture. Marriage is merely one patch in the quilt of scripture, and the minute we focus on marriage and don’t see the rest of the quilt, the more we blind ourselves to the way in which scripture presents marriage. In fact, there are some people today who believe that marriage can sanctify, and that husbands can sanctify their wives, based upon a misuse of Ephesians 5:25. We have people like Albert Mohler saying things like, “How are you going to be holy without marriage” [at 24:15]. We have the whole notion that there is a sin of “delay of marriage” and any marriage deliberately without children is de facto sin. Then, anytime there is an engagement or the announcement of a pregnancy, we have people going goo goo and ga ga over it even long after the marriage happens or the child is born, to the seeming exclusion of anything else going on! Again where are our priorities?

The church today needs a wake-up call. Most people today don’t care about how to accurately handle the scriptures. Do you think getting married is going to solve that problem? In fact, most evangelicals today cannot even present the gospel. Do you really think marrying is going to solve that problem? So many people do not care about how to apply the scriptures to their daily lives, and rely on popular teachers to tell them how to do it. Do you really think getting married is going to solve that problem? I think we as a church have boughten into a form of gnosticism which I will call “marital gnosticism.” We seem to think that the way to the higher Christian life is through marriage, and, although single people are a part of the church, they simply are not as “enlightened” as those who are married. Hence, we need to encourage, and even shame single people into getting married, so that they will become “enlightened” like the rest of the married people. It is gross, ridiculous, gnostic thinking. Not only does it not work [marriage cannot change the heart; only Christ can], even worse, it alienates singles. Singles who see this kind of behavior know that they are not part of the “enlightened” gnostic group, and thus, they are pushed further and further away.

Dr. Mohler onetime did a podcast in which he pointed out how the vast majority of singles are liberal, while the vast majority of conservatives are married. This is a case where we have to remember that correlation does not equal causation. First of all, just so we are clear, it is sin to leave the authority of scripture for the authority of your own autonomy. Singles who do such are clearly in sin when they do it. However, could it be that their sinful desires were aided by the marital gnosticism of the church? Could it be that, because they were not part of the “enlightened” community of married people that they were pushed further and further away, and thus, gave them a nudge to place their own autonomy in the place of God’s word? People have never considered that.

I want to appeal to my married friends and family: Please, learn to be humble when you speak with single people. We are Christians too, and we have a lot we can offer the body of Christ. We are not unwise because of our singleness. We are not worse sinners than you simply because we are unmarried. We are not more ignorant of scripture than you are just because we are unmarried. We are not more immature than you are just because we are unmarried. Please, exercise some humility in how you talk to us!

More than that, please learn to put marriage into perspective. Marriage is a good and beautiful part of God’s creation. When God shows us that he as chosen someone to serve him by having and raising covenant children, it is likewise something good and beautiful as well. However, those things are finite creations. Knowing God better should always be celebrated far above marriage. Knowing his word should always be celebrated far above marriage. Applying God’s word more and more should always be celebrated far above marriage. Growing in wisdom should always be celebrated far above marriage. When these things are *not* celebrated above marriage, not only do these things suffer, not only do you end up pushing singles out of the congregation, but you end up destroying marriage as well. Marriage was never made to be put on the pedestal it is on in the church today. God and the scriptures are the city walls which protect marriage from attack. When we exalt marriage like this, and make it the city wall which defends the rest of our faith, why should we be surprised when all the enemies of the faith have to do is start making bombs, and blow up portions of the wall in order for marriage to be severely wounded and [because I don’t believe marriage was created for this purpose] destroyed.

Hence, my plea is for humility and perspective. Singles and married people are both equal in the eyes of God. One is not holier than the other, more mature than the other, smarter than the other. We are all one in Christ. Please start treating us like it! More than that, please keep marriage in perspective. Like singleness, it is a part of our faith, but it is not the foundation of our faith. God is the foundation of our faith, and his word is the foundation of our faith. If we keep that in mind, and act with humility towards one another, I think it will solve most of these problems.

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