Guest Post (Ryan Hutchinson): Should Followers of Christ in North Carolina Vote ‘Yes’ for the Proposed Marriage Amendment?
[Editor’s Note: On May 8, the people of North Carolina will vote on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In light of this important current issue, BtT asked Ryan R. Hutchinson, Senior VP for Business Administration at SEBTS, to write up an op-ed on the issue.]
Have you seen my shiny new car? You won’t believe how incredible it is. Recently, I had some new shoes put on its hooves, the mane is groomed beautifully, and there is a saddle on its back that is broken-in to absolute perfection. When it hits a full gallop and all four legs are working like a well-oiled machine, the ride is exhilarating. Plus it has this beautiful two-tone brown and white trim just under the neck that is on level with a Picasso masterpiece…
You are probably thinking that I am nuts. Perhaps you are thinking, “This isn’t a car…you are describing a horse.” You might say that I know what a car looks like and exactly what a horse looks like. As soon as I said “car” a picture entered into your mind based on an accepted definition of a car that in no way, shape, or form was a car. It might have been a mode of transportation, but definitely not a car.
On May 8th, voters in North Carolina will have an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The question for followers of Christ is why would we define marriage in that way and not broaden our definition? It is the same reason that we won’t call a horse a car. Therefore, let’s vote for the definition of marriage as stated by the proposed marriage amendment.
Recently, following a Members’ Meeting at our church in which we told our church about the Marriage Amendment, I was approached by a church member asking me why he and his wife should vote ‘yes’ for the amendment. He was honestly struggling about why it should concern Christians regarding the state’s definition of marriage. This question arose not because he didn’t believe that the Bible taught marriage was between one man and one woman, but rather that it wasn’t an issue that caused us to have to change anything as Christians. Plus, it avoids us coming across as the stodgy anti-everything group of people as so often mis-characterized in today’s society. He and his wife, like most of us today, know well or have many acquaintances who are homosexual and interact with them on a regular basis. So, doesn’t taking a position on this issue hurt our chances to interact with them and effectively share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them?
As believers, we should participate in the vote, and we need to decide on what basis we mark yes or no. We should participate in the process because we are being asked to vote on a matter. We are blessed to live in a country where we have the ability to vote for our leaders and for various issues on a regular basis. Therefore, as good and responsible citizens, we should vote on any matter when given the opportunity rather than throw our rights and responsibilities as citizens to the ditch. So my hope is that if you are a citizen of North Carolina, you act responsibly by voting on May 8th.
The bigger question is how do we decide to vote yes or no on the amendment? You are being asked to decide on your definition of marriage. For an older generation of believers, there might be a thought that we vote against this because it is wrong. We don’t necessarily know why it is wrong other than it is simply un-American! For a younger generation, we aren’t sure how this displays the love of Christ or why we should care how the state defines marriage. What matters is only how we inside the church define marriage. The reason why both groups should vote yes for the marriage amendment is that the conversation going on in our culture is not one of tax breaks and legal designations, but society taking something God has established and desiring to redefine it. This move shouldn’t surprise us because that is the effect of sin on the hearts of all people (see Romans 1:21-23).
Let me pose a question. If there were a push in society to define marriage as including a union between a man or woman and another species, would you have an opinion on the matter? I venture to say that for most, probably even non-believers, there would be a push back against a man or woman marrying another species. We might not know why, but it would be based on a violation of the definition we have in our minds even if we don’t know the basis of the definition. This sense of a definition of marriage is why most in our society reject the taking of multiple spouses, which is also addressed in the marriage amendment. We as believers, however, are required to define everything as God defines it through the Bible, and to apply His wisdom to all of the areas where things are not specifically defined.
God, through His Scripture, does define marriage very clearly for us. This definition starts from the very beginning in Genesis. In the context of the creation of man and woman, God says in Genesis 2:24 (ESV): “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Jesus uses this passage when questioned about the topic of divorce in Matthew 19:3-6 (ESV): “And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”” Much more could be said about the biblical evidence for the definition of marriage between one man and one woman, but for sake of the brevity of the post, that is all we need. So we don’t just have the words of an apostle or prophet telling us a definition of marriage, although it would be enough as God’s inspired Word, but we have the words attributed to the very mouth of God, through God the Father and God the Son both in the Old and New Testaments.
So we have to decide how we are going to define anything in life. We have a choice of using God’s definition or ones we come up with on our own, and we can’t have different definitions for different settings. On May 8th, you should vote because as a follower of Christ you are to be a good citizen. On May 8th, you should vote ‘yes’ to the marriage amendment because you must have a definition and your definition should come in alignment with God’s. Romans 12:2 (ESV), states “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
May you use the conversation with your non-believing friends not as a conversation of simple philosophical disagreement or preference, but one of love that is founded in the gospel to call all people to repentance. We are sinners ourselves, and in just as much of the need of the grace of God as the polygamist, the homosexual, the alcoholic, the person filled with anger, the neglectful spouse, or the lazy worker. Outside of Christ, we all, including myself, face the same condemnation because we all fall under the same umbrella as sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. Thank God for His mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ, and thank God for the resurrection of Christ through which we have life through faith in Him.
Vote on May 8th!
Note: SEBTS will be hosting a panel discussion on the Marriage Amendment. The panel will take place on the campus in Binkley chapel at 10am on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. More information is available at http://sebts.edu/news-resources/headlines/articles/Marriage%20Amendment%20Forum.aspx.