The Supreme Court will soon decide whether states can legally choose to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It is a watershed moment in our nation’s history.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has filed briefs with the court; argued in public and in private about why marriage, defined as the union of one man and one woman, matters as a social good; and more than there is space to list here.
But beyond all this we as Christians and churches need to pray – because marriage is not just another culture war issue.
As Christians we know that it is not even possible for any government to actually redefine what God has defined from eternity. Marriage is about more than registering relationships at a courthouse.
Marriage is about the common good and flourishing of society, but is also an icon of the union between Christ and his church, embedded in the creation (Ephesians 5:22-31). Without a Christian vision of marriage, we have no Christian vision of the gospel.
As a church we need to pray that marriage will not be treated as if it were a tattered house standing in the way of government construction – there to be plowed out of the way in the name of progress. And yet, on the other hand, we must pray and ask God to give us wisdom so that moving forward we would be able to spell out with convictional kindness why marriage matters, in light of who we are as men and women and in light of the gospel mystery of Christ and His church.
We ought to pray that Jesus would overcome the atrophy that we’ve allowed our own marriages and families to fall into for too long. The belief in our churches that culture was enough to keep marriages intact has been exposed as a disastrous folly. With chaos like adultery, abandonment and divorce running rampant in our pews, how did we fail to see that we were then, in that moment, outsourcing our marriages and our families to culture?
But most of all, we must pray that, regardless of whether our land’s highest court recognizes the unchangeable or not, we will hold steadfast. We must love our neighbors enough to have the confidence of people who have heard a word from God and the compassion of a people who are on a mission with God. We must learn from our Savior, who was neither shocked by the Samaritan woman’s sexual sin nor afraid to speak a word of repentance to her conscience. “Woman, go get your husband and come here” is our model: an unashamed assessment of sin and an unrestrained invitation to come to Jesus.
The stakes are high. The price of getting marriage wrong is steep, and as in the rest of the sexual revolution, children will foot much of the bill. It matters tremendously to our nation and to future generations that we agree with God on this.
Let’s pray that the Supreme Court gets this right and stays within the limits of its authority – recognizing that the state did not create the family, and it cannot recreate it. And at the same time let’s pray with confidence, knowing that regardless of how the court decides, on the other side of our culture wars there is a sexual counter-revolution waiting to be born again.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Russell Moore is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. For information on the ERLC #PrayforMarriage initiative, visit erlc.com/prayformarriage.)