God created marriage.
When Jesus was questioned by the religious rulers of His day about divorce, which is the dissolution of something He created, He took them back to the beginning, because He was there. “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” As we wait for the Supreme Court to tell us the definition of marriage, I would suggest we see what Jesus says on the subject. You can find it in Matthew 19.
Marriage is between a man and a woman. A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife.
Marriage is oriented toward procreation. “So they are no longer two but one flesh.” That does not speak to emotional oneness only but to physical oneness primarily, which we know is the only biological process that can produce children. We know that some couples cannot have children, and that doesn’t make them any less married. But the normative truth of Scripture is that God designed marriage to produce future generations.
Marriage is before God and for a lifetime. Whenever I officiate a wedding I like to remind the couple that though there are many human witnesses seated behind them, the most important witness is the one in the room who did not receive an invitation and who needs no seat. He attends every wedding He ordains. God is the one who brings us together in holy matrimony and God is the one who will keep us together. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Marriage is a creation of God for all people, not just for Christians. Governments did not create this first and most basic institution. Marriage was created by God and defined by God. That means that no matter what the Supreme Court rules in the next few weeks, the Supreme Creator and judge has already spoken. He has defined marriage. He sustained marriage after the fall and with sinful human beings throughout all of human history. It became much harder after sin entered the equation, but it did not become any less God’s design and purpose for men and women for whom He has chosen marriage. Let me add that this does not minimize the importance of singles and children and widows and others who are not married. They too are image bearers and called by God to represent Him and His Word to all people.
Finally, marriage is a picture of the Gospel. We know this from what Paul wrote in Ephesians 5, when he repeated what Jesus said in Matthew 19 and what God said in Genesis 2, that a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Then Paul adds, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” In the sacrificial love of a husband for his wife and a wife for her husband, God puts the Gospel on display. The reverse is true as well, of course. A marriage that is falling apart is a poor picture of what Christ has done for His bride. A husband engaged in an extra-marital affair (either with a real woman or with an image on his computer) is a hypocrite and brings shame to the institution of marriage.
Nonetheless, imperfect and broken marriages between a man and a woman do not make an argument for changing the very definition of marriage. God has not left that open to us.