That’s a quote from a discussion I started on Reddit. I asked the question “What do you think is more important: saving biblical marriage or sharing the gospel?“
The answers fell into two general categories: one, without question, sharing the gospel was more important. And two, the two are not mutually exclusive. They are the same thing.
My own bias leans toward sharing the gospel. In the introduction to the question I gave a 300-word reason why.
But I have to say that the arguments from those who said the two were the same thing were persuasive.
Where Sharing the Gospel and Subduing the Earth Are the Same
Keep in mind that this discussion occurred in a thread where users affirmed the teachings of Calvin and embraced the ideas behind TULIP. In other words, the group as a whole were opposed to same-sex marriage. We did have one dissenter, an Episcopalian. I thanked him for joining our discussion.
The arguments for those who defended the notion that saving biblical marriage and sharing the gospel were the same thing centred around the premise that we were given two commissions: the great commission and the cultural mandate.
As a previous student of the cultural mandate to subdue the earth, I understand where those who use this argument stand, and where they were going with it.
We were to create and cultivate civilization by building schools, businesses, art, laws and communities…and raising families, which are the bedrock of civilization. If the family unit is broken, then civilisation is broken.
As many pointed out this is equivalent to Jesus’ statement to make disciples of all the nations.
Where Sharing the Gospel and Subduing the Earth Are NOT the Same
While I can buy that, I’m stuck on this: the gospel is a story about what the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished for us, namely peace with God.
To say that sharing the gospel is equivalent to defending biblical marriage I think is tantamount to saying we can live out the gospel, which is impossible.
How do you live out the narrative of redemptive history?
Certainly I believe that our lives can be a testimony to what the gospel can accomplish. While the gospel can save a marriage that is headed for divorce–and that testimony of its power can lead to a discussion about the gospel–a saved marriage is not the same thing as the gospel.
Why is this even important? Because God commanded us to share the gospel in a very specific way, and through that method people are saved by the Holy Spirit.
So when energy is invested, at the expense of sharing the gospel, in preserving an institution that some people in a free nation don’t want then we look bad. Furthermore, we then start to look like we believe that we can create a utopia by preserving this nation through legislation…not salvation.
There was one key comment for me in this discussion. The one that said marriage is dead in the U.S. Here is the comment in full context bygrace-faith:
The definition of marriage in the US is dead and it was killed by Christians and non-christians alike long before the homosexuality issue. So when people see us yelling about the definition of marriage they see us yammering over something which does not exist.
It was killed by divorce and abusive and neglectful parents. Marriage is seen as just so easily breakable, by Christians and non-christians. Parenthood is defined by what the parents want to do, not by what is best for their children. These sorts of marriage and parenthood are just as displeasing to God as gay marriage.
As long as these issues are not taken seriously, there is no reason for seculars to view us as anything but anti-gay idiots, because it is what we are. We are rightfully labeled as hypocrites. Not that confronting those problems will solve everything, but I find it much more important to fix Christian marriages than nonchristian.
I think that last line is sublime, and reminds me of 1 Corinthians 5:9-12
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
The statement made by bygrace-faith is a strong statement. However, is there any proof that marriage is dead in the U.S.?
Proof That Marriage in the U.S. Is Dead
Well, you have the US Census Bureau Newsroom saying that from 2000 to 2010 nonfamily households doubled in growth over family households. A common nonfamily household is a person living alone, with an increase of 25.8 percent in 2000 to 26.7 percent in 2010.
In addition, the number of non-married partners living together grew by 41 percent.
However, the divorce rates actually declined in 2009. So, is America on a moral slide?
I’d argue that it is. But that’s debatable. And misses the point. Because regardless of our moral condition, we desperately need Jesus.
Clearly as Christians we are to take the biblical idea of marriage very seriously. But we can’t expect the culture around us to do the same thing.
So do we acquiesce? Do we let civilisation crumble around us?
No, I think we attack these issues head on. But there are better ways to do this than by legislation.
Mentoring young men who are at risk of abandoning their families. Supporting single mothers who are struggling to raise a family. Adopting children who are abandoned or abused by a family.
It’s a bottom-up approach versus a top down.
History is full of instances where Christians make very bad politicians. History, however, is abundant with examples of charity that have saved the lost, protected the forgotten, healed the wounded, visited the prisoners and fed the hungry.
Christianity didn’t spread because missionaries like Paul and Barnabas changed Roman law. It spread because of their relentless efforts to obey Christ. In that wake civilisations and their laws grew based upon Christian principles. And this is the appropriate way I believe in which we redeem the earth.
Do you think I’m off my rocker? Do you think that America is on a moral slide? Is there evidence? Is marriage dead in the U.S.? Did Christians kill it? Am I off with my bottom-up approach? Is there any room for a bottom-up and top-down approach? Is saving biblical marriage and sharing the gospel the same thing?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Brutal and all.