Marriage Has No Future
Australia was one of the few countries that took the question of same sex marriage to the voters and they voted over 60% in favour of same sex marriage. So what? Well, it demonstrates that the process of redefining the word is complete in the thinking of most people in Western societies. (We need to remember, though, that the great majority of people in the world do not live in Western societies and they have rarely adopted this view.)
Some individuals in the nations that have authorised same-sex marriage have realised that it has opened a door to interpret the word as they wish. Some are seeking recognition of their right to marry a pet. One man in Arizona applied to marry his horse and an English millionaire woman married a dolphin. I have no idea what thinking lies behind these acts, but they serve to demonstrate that the word “marriage” can now have many interpretations.
Some commentators have predicted that the doors are now open for “marriages” between three or more people. If there are any tax or inheritance advantages to being “married” then we will see more and more “marriages” that simply serve financial purposes. Others might get “married” to someone, or more than one, or to animals or things for the sake of publicity.
We have set out on a road without thinking enough about its destination. Eventually, governments will admit that when they abandoned the long-held traditional definition of marriage (as being between a man and a woman), they abandoned any clear meaning of the word. From that point, there will be no reference to it in law.
Will it continue to have social or cultural meaning? In a word, NO. Already nearly half of all marriages break up and the trend is increasing. As the percentages increase, the meaning of the word fades into no meaning at all.
But, I’m a man who has been happily, joyfully, contentedly married to the same woman for 47 years; we have four children and eleven grandchildren together. Marriage is not meaningless to me! When we got married in 1970, marriage had a firm Christian meaning. Those who married, did so “in the sight of God and man” with the intention of keeping their vows with God’s
help. And He has helped, and is helping us! Do I have to abandon the word? At this point, I think I do.
Nearly six years ago Dr Patrick Dixon spoke to an international group of missionary workers here at Highfield Oval, Harpenden, where I live. He could see that governments were intent on taking authority over marriage and family and that it was very likely that they would redefine the word. He told us that if they did, Christians would have to come up with a new term. He was right (and he usually is)!
So, now is the time. That word, “marriage”, which used to be so highly valied has no future.
I recently had a conversation around this subject with a wise friend who is a Member of Parliament here in London. I asked him if he thought we needed to start using a different term and he said, “Yes, we will need to refer to it as Holy Matrimony.” So, in other words, we don’t want to invent a term, but we should go back to an old term that has fallen out of use except in formal marriage ceremonies.
Holy Matrimony. I like it.
You might think that it will never catch on, but that is not the point. Our favoured word has been drained of meaning, so we cannot continue to use it without losing our distinctive identity as followers of Jesus Christ. There might even be a real advantage to adopting the old term. If those who really do intend to make and keep holy covenant before God and man use that term, then we might see a telling statistical difference between those who “get married” and those who “enter into Holy Matrimony”. If we sincerely mean what the traditional service says—that we make these vows before God, our Helper, and that we need the support of the community of followers of Jesus—then we will surely have a much lower failure rate than those who “get married” without clear faith and without the Family of Believers supporting them.
Holy Matrimony. I could get used to it. Could you?