CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Why Marriage Matters

Aug 17, 2009

The recent National Marriage breakfast in Canberra was a great success, with some 500 people in attendance. But if you simply relied on the mainstream media, you would not have even known that it took place. The only coverage at all about the event seems to have been about the attempt by two homosexual activists to disrupt the proceedings. More homosexual tolerance in action.

Of course if 50 – or even 5 – homosexualists held a rally at Parliament House in Canberra, the MSM would have been all over it. But the secular left who predominate in the MSM do not want to give the institutions of marriage and family a run – unless of course to criticise and demonise them.

But the rally was held nonetheless, and the keynote speaker, English barrister James Bogle, gave a good address on the importance of marriage and family. He began by citing a family court judge in the UK who spoke of the epidemic of family breakdown which he described as a “national tragedy”. The judge said that “our children are the losers in the national game of ‘pass the partner’.”

Bogle noted the many negative consequences of family breakdown which has been occurring in Britain over the past four decades: “Since the early 1970s there has been a decline in marriage, and a marked rise in the numbers of lone parent families. The ongoing rise in family breakdown affecting young children has been driven by the dissolution of cohabiting partnerships. The majority of these are less stable than marriage (European data shows that by a child’s fifth birthday less than 1 in 12 (8%) married parents have split up compared to almost 1 in 2 (43%) cohabiting parents).”

Children of course have been the big losers: “The intergenerational transmission of family breakdown and its associated disadvantages is seen in the way children who have been neglected or poorly nurtured are highly likely to go on to create dysfunctional families subject to further breakdown. Similarly there is an over-representation in teen pregnancy statistics of girls from fatherless and broken homes.

Crime is strongly correlated with family breakdown – 70% of young offenders are from lone parent families and one third of prisoners were in local authority care (yet only 0.6% of the nation’s children are in care at any one time). Costs of family breakdown to the exchequer are conservatively estimated to be well over £20bn per annum.”

In his address Bogle cited a number of significant international studies on the importance of marriage, and especially how it benefits children: “The research is overwhelmingly in favour of marriage as best for children, for adults and for society. In marriage children enjoy better health, physical and mental, and make better relationships themselves in later life.

“Married couples have longer life expectancy and better record of higher earnings and career success. Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers will have good relationships with children. Married mothers have a lower rate of depression than single or co-habiting mothers and married women are actually at lower risk of domestic violence than co-habiting women.

“Cohabiting couples are more like singles than marrieds in terms of physical health, emotional well-being and mental health, as well as in terms of assets, earnings and financial betterment and their children are more comparable in those terms to the children of singles.

“Marriage reduces the risk that children and adults will be either the perpetrators or the victims of crime, whereas the absence of fathers in a family is directly associated with a higher incidence of criminality in young adolescents and young adults.

“In sum, marriage is a vitally important social good and the decline of marriage is highly expensive to society financially and in terms of mental health indicators. Marriage is directly associated with an impressive array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike.”

He concluded his talk by reminding us of the importance of contending for marriage, and how we can turn these trends around: “The tide of family breakdown (dysfunction, dissolution and dad-lessness) can be turned. Policies need to pay particular attention to the needs of our youngest citizens, those in the first three years of life where the nurture of their parents is of prime importance.

“We should all want our children to be given the best opportunities to grow into relationally competent and confident adults. We should not be remotely apologetic about supporting an institution which is so beneficial to society and to individuals and which, if it is unsupported and allowed to go wrong, can cause immense harm to its members and to society as a whole.

“The time for experimenting with the health and welfare of our children, who are the nation’s future, is over. The time to re-establish the best environment for their healthy development and growth is now here. And that environment is the family. There is no substitute for it. Let us therefore support it and celebrate it and accept no inferior substitutes. If we are really serious about child protection and care and the best interests of children, we will make this an immediate policy priority.”

Quite so. This is an important reminder to us all. But with the MSM largely uninterested or in fact opposed to such messages, I am more than happy to use this outlet as a way to spread this important word to a wider audience. I owe it to my children to do so.

[907 words]

33 Responses to Why Marriage Matters

  • Bill, well said.

    Marriage one man, one wife for life is the bedrock of families, society and nations.

    Get marriage right and watch families, society and our great nation strengthen.

    Judith Bond

  • Some very good statistics here.

    Thank you, Bill.

    Michael Hutton, Ariah Park

  • How long will it take for the secular humanist society in which we are immersed to get the message? Must we put up with the mis-information about this important aspect of life which the MSM continue to foist on us?
    Dunstan Hartley

  • Thanks Bill.

    I’m testament to the fact that I had no idea such a gathering was taking place. I’m grateful to be made aware of such events – they are an encouragement to all of us who desire to see the institution of marriage unamended by same-sex marriage lobbyists.

    Until just last week, I was also unaware that the Australian Greens had submitted the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 to the Senate – thankfully, I subscribe to Family Voice Australia’s VoxPoint newsletter. With the knowledge that the Bill is before the Senate and that the public are welcome to submit letters to the Senate regarding the Bill, I managed to put pen to paper last week to write of my opposition to it.

    Like yourself, I am using my own blog to make others aware of what is happening with marriage in Australia and of what they can do about it.

    For those interested, the Senate are accepting submissions for the Bill up until Fri 28 Aug 2009, so any others wanting to make a stand for traditional marriage ought to do so now. A copy of the letter I wrote against the Bill can also be found on my blog – people are welcome to draw from it to compose their own.

    Thanks for all your hard work, as usual; your blog is an invaluable source from which many are able to draw timely, informative and reliable information.

    Mathew Hamilton
    Victoria

  • Dunstan,

    I think they ‘get it well enough’ but as the Bible says the non-believer is biased away from the Truth.

    Unregenerate man is a rebel who must surrender (CS Lewis) – “…men loved darkness instead of light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

    John Angelico

  • Here’s an example of hypocricy of the MSM. While promoting any kind of relationship that “feels good” as a worthy one, they will also speak of the devasting effects of American families losing their ‘fathers’ on the fields of Afghanistan. Of course, their emphasis is on getting the troops out of Afghanistan, but they use the argument that men are important to the families. However one rarely sees the MSM promoting the importance of men as head and pillar of the family.
    Jane Petridge

  • The gay lobby have up until now have successfully hung onto the coat tails of the black civil rights movement – but for how long? For surely by now it has become self evident that gay liberation can in no way be compared to the coloured person’s demand to be integrated into society. Coloured people have not striven to be recognised as an evolutionary advance on the white population, as superior, but as part of the human race who beneath the skin are no different to their white counterparts. They have no desire to restructure marriage, family or society; their only desire has been to be able to play a full part in contributing to society by raising children of their own in families defined by husband and wife, father and mother, grandparents and grandchildren, uncles, aunts and etc.

    Surely by now it is evident to all that the gay lobby do not want to be like us but to be accepted as an alternative society not bounded by the normal constraints that go with raising a family. Their demand for marriage is bogus, there is no rush to have their partnerships sanctioned. Where partnerships do occur they are just as quickly dissolved. Children though useful as bargaining chips as human shields, as trophies, are not thickly burgeoning amongst their branches and for reasons too obvious to mention. Attend any gay parade with its strutting, cavorting and sweating menagerie of hot house plants and one can see immediately that these are not family orientated events.

    It has been claimed by the gays that we attack them for being what they are, homosexual, whilst they never attack us for being heterosexual. But the reason they never attack us on this basis is that they do not identify us as heterosexual, a bogus Darwinian nomenclature. Indeed, they think of us as either as emerging or repressed homosexuals. The truth is that we are only men and women whose sexuality, like playdo is capable of being pushed and stretched into all shapes and sizes. They on the other hand claim to be a step further in the evolutionary chain and therefore mandated to supersede and dominate the rest of society.

    Not for them the banns of marriage being read out announcing in a Christian parish Church that a marriage is going to take place between two live human beings – one male and one female. Not for them the invitation for anyone who knows any legal impediment as to why the two should not be joined together in holy matrimony (such as a pre-existing marriage (having been neither dissolved nor annulled), lack of consent, or the couple’s being related within the prohibited degrees of kinship) to speak up or for ever hold their peace. Not only will they brook no objection to any sexual relationship they might wish to create; they will demand our full support – nothing less will be accepted.

    Up until now a child has been regarded as an entity in its own right, not as a means towards an end. It was not conceived with a view to supplying spare parts for other human beings. The child’s body was thought to be inextricably and dynamically linked to a person, a spiritual being with soul and will.

    Up until recently the creation of one flesh out of two separate entities, one male the other female was regarded as an entity in its own right , in which body, mind and soul were inextricably fused together to create a new entity, the fruit of which was often another entity, a child. Irrespective of whether this union brought emotional, mental or physical benefits such as children it was a marriage. My body does not cease to have significance if I am not aware of it or it ceases to give me pleasure The existentialist‘s dictum ” I think or I feel therefore I am” is not true. I am irrespective of whether I am conscious or not.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Hi Bill,

    As Christians we must recognise that the latest push to define sodomite behaviour as marriage and the inevitable next push add group, paedophile and bestial relationships to the definition are really only the outworking of the rejection of God’s word that started long ago in the West.

    Recent attempts to define marriage in law as exclusively between men and women are welcome, but we must recognise that God’s definition of marriage is wider than this and, as Christians, we shouldn’t be picking and choosing only parts of this definition to insist upon.

    The traditional marriage vows, where the husband resolved to love his wife as his own body, and the wife resolved to obey her husband for as long as they both should live summed up this definition well.

    I feel therefore that to uphold God’s definition in practice we should be aiming for the State to only recognise new marriages if such Biblically based vows are used, because anything less means it is another type of relationship and not really marriage which is being entered into.

    Of course, such a step would involve reversing 50 years or so of humanistic, feminist and now sodomitic departure from the truth. But I feel that even though this seems politically impossible we still need to recognise this as the goal we are heading for whilst we achieve small step by small step along the way by lobbying and voting.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Thanks for this article, Bill. Just to comment on the Marriage Day, which I attended with other young people involved with RISE (Restore Integrity and Sexual Ethics).
    I have read several articles about those two men, and the lies are unbelivable.
    I met both men, took their tickets and found them seats (not knowing who they were, none the less they had a right to be there.) One looked about 17 yrs old, although no doubt he was over 18. Half way through they both got on the stage with the lady representing the Labour Party was speaking, with some sign about Inequality or Discrimination, I couldn’t read it, and a rainbow little flag. They stood there for a few minutes, no one booed them or shouted, they were ignored and I think this was unnervinh them. Then a Parliment Security man went to the side, obviously asked them something, and they both gotoff the stage. As far as we could tell them was no fuss. The audiance gave a applause to the security guard. A few mintues later the older man, John Davy was beign escorted aroudn the crowd outside. He shouted “Shame, Shame, Shame!’ the only response was one man who replied ‘Shut up, Shut up.” (He would have done better to be silent.) And that was all.
    Afterwards people were amused, saying it was a rather pathetic attempt, but they had a right to express their views, however rude it was to do it at a Marriage Function.
    That is what happened, and i would be obligied if people would let others know that these two men were treated with the utmost respect by the audience.
    Keep up the great work Bill!
    Fiona Reeves

  • Bill, Deuteronomy 6 supports your stand on marriage.
    We fathers are commanded to teach and observe God’s law. The command extends to our sons and grandsons, to prolong our life-span. God desires us to multiply greatly.
    We are to teach our children to love the Lord our God with all our heart , soul and strength. These truths must be driven home to their hearts: by teaching them diligently; to discuss them in our homes; when strolling or driving; (creation will figure in it); in bed-time snuggling with children and rousing them each morning.they are to be memorised ( frontal cortex is seat of memory). We must warn against forgetfulness; teach about false gods, part of our fallen world. We must have a grip of Old Testament truth when our son asks us of their meaning.
    All this is for our good, that God may preserve us.
    Only devoted marriage of a Christ-loving man and woman can accomplish this. My website enlarges on this: www.biblestories.stellaris.com.au/
    Harrold Steward

  • @ Mansel – while I agree with most of what you said, I do not think that a return to biblical values is what is required here (although that would be desired).

    Marriage seems to me a natural law whereby all people benefit, irrespective of their religious beliefs. It is an aspect of God’s common grace to creation. Unbelievers can recognise and uphold marriage as a social good without a biblical basis.

    In Christians seeking to protect and uphold marriage just as it is, biblical arguments will not persuade in the public sphere; but again, we do not need to resort to biblical arguments to convince of the common social good that marriage provides. Bill has a number of articles on this site that reference many ‘secular’ studies that espouse the benefits of marriage aside from biblical truth and values.

    Mathew Hamilton, Victoria

  • Matthew H, you make excellent points, but I think you and Mansel are working towards different objectives.

    I think Mansel was saying that the definition of marriage is and can only be Biblical. Both Christian and Non-Christian can see the benefits of marriage as part of God’s common grace, but the definition must remain Biblical – else it is a watering down, and it then becomes susceptible to manipulation by activist opponents.

    This goes further into other areas, too – Truth, Science, History, in fact almost any human endeavour must retain the “Biblilcal definition” – that is, God has made one world, and His definitions always apply.

    The physical, moral and spiritual laws of the universe operate consistently throughout the creation for everybody – believers and non-believers.

    John Angelico

  • Thanks to everyone above for your comments about marriage. It reminds me what I should be aiming for.
    Ross McPhee

  • Bill,
    Marriage is much more than just between a man and a woman. It is a lifetime covenant between the two and the creator of this institution ie the God of all creation. While there may be exceptional provisons where divorce is permitted, divorce remains an abomination to the Lord .But the church seems to think otherwise, and the absence or lack of any admonishment, and indifference, makes the church almost an accomplice to this national escalation of easy divorce.

    The sin of divorce is no less severe than that of same sex marriage, and the negative consequences are plentyful but we tend to only harp on same sex marriage. The article highlights the many negative consequences of divorce and family breakups, but who will take the responsibility to stop this dreadful epidemic, seeing that the church remains anemic and wishes to offend no one.The long term consequences are dire. Hurting people hurt others. We need some effective Christian institution to champion for irrevocable marriage and turn the tide against divorce.
    Barry Koh

  • Hi Mathew,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I certainly agree with you that marriage is a natural law where all people benefit, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Christians can see this is so because God has ordained marriage in the Bible. And, as you rightly point out, both Christians and non-Christians can also see this by the many good secular studies that show the benefits to individuals, children, families and society from marriage.

    I also agree with you that Biblical arguments will not persuade (generally) in the public sphere (at least not nowadays in the Western world); but nevertheless I think it’s critical to include them anyway. This is because the word of God is powerful – more so than any human words; and it is also a good witness, allowing unbelievers to see that Christians do take the Bible seriously and as the foundation of our desired public policy.

    Where I think you may have particularly misunderstood me is where you say ‘In Christians seeking to protect and uphold marriage just as it is…’. The main point I wanted to make in my post is that I think it is inadequate to uphold marriage just as it is. As Christians we have let the definition of what marriage is slip in recent decades and in the longer term we must aim further than just upholding the status quo. The vows I am suggesting do not need to mention God at all, but they must affirm God’s purposes for marriage and the distinct roles of men and women within that institution. These vows would go just as far in restoring a proper understanding of what marriage is as insisting that marriage is only between men and women.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Could Mansel or John please point me to the “Biblical definition of marriage” they refer to? I’m researching this for a Bible study group and having trouble finding any useful citations.

    Marie Philips, Caloundra

  • I agree with John Angelico (hmmm… don’t think I’ve disagreed with him in at least 30 years), my own observation being that marriage is being viewed either as a token or only from immediate, pragmatic benefits,

    I see that race (even culture) need not make any substantial difference. I know a US-born racial Korean woman married to a native Hawaiian man (Hawaii adds new depth to “manyana”); they get along fine. I know a ChineseIndonesian woman married to a man from Zimbabwe; they get along fine (their extended families don’t).

    I am Canadian-born Australian man (part Austrian, small part AusAboriginal equals Phoenecian) seriously considering marrying a French/German/Nordic/PawneeIndian woman; we are both Christian, different demoninations, mentally quite different; how we get on is near-miraculously good.

    Her 24yo daughter is considering marrying her boyfriend (father of the 3rd of her 3 children, so I would be marrying Crazy Grandma & very happy, even delighted to) essentially because her Mom wants it, but backgrounded by beginning to understand the real nature of things. Overall, I think it’s a very good move, & expect the reasoning to sort itself out as her understanding of factors broadens.

    Leon Brooks

  • Marie, that’s a study in itself, but start with Matt 5:31-32; Matt 19:4-8; Gen 2:24, which all speak of the lifetime permanence of marriage.

    Other passages in the letters (1 Cor 7, Eph 5:23-32, 1 Pet 3) deal with relationships between husband and wife.

    1 Cor 6 deals with sexual relationships outside of marriage. And 1 Cor 7:10-11 seems to forbid divorce and re-marriage, and trial marriages: you get one shot at it and if you can’t make it work, then that’s it [A bit like Yoda in Star Wars – Do, or do not; there is no “try”].

    John Angelico

  • PS: all the passages speak of a man and a woman, and Romans 1 and 1 Cor 6 deal with homosexuality as a sin.
    John Angelico

  • @ Mansel – I think we are on the same page now. Thanks for clarifying.

    BTW, I trust that the other commenters on this article who reside in Australia have submitted, or are in the process of submitting, their letter of rejection against the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009. Make no mistake, same-sex lobbyists will be out in force to support this Bill; it’s important to have your voice counted for.

    Mathew Hamilton
    Victoria

  • Hi Marie,

    For God’s purposes for marriage, and how the institution was marred by the fall see Gen 2:18ff and Gen 3:16-17.

    For more details including specific instructions to men and women see: 1 Cor 7, Eph 5, Col 3 ,1 Pet 3.

    There is much more on marriage in the Bible besides the verses above, of course, but these should be sufficient for your Bible study.

    For an example of the type of vows I am advocating please see the link below to the marriage liturgy from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

    www.weddings.co.uk/info/wedserv.htm

    Of course, I don’t think marriage should be prevented if non-Christians want to omit the prayers or some of the references to God, but the important points to insist upon are that the God’s purposes for marriage are clearly defined, the obligations and benefits are laid out and both husband and wife must acknowledge their respective parts to play before the marriage can be recognised as such. If non-Christians are not happy with God’s definition of what marriage is then they are free to enter into other types of relationship, but they should not be permitted to call it marriage because that is a word which is defined by God in the Bible.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Thanks, John and Mansel.

    You both seem to be arguing for a return to female submission in marriage based on the Pauline letters. Yet all of the passages that marginalise women are controversial, and there is considerable scholarship based on historiography and higher criticism which indicates that these passages are in fact part of the body of “post-Pauline interpolations”, i.e. forgeries. This applies particularly to 1, 2 Tim, Titus, Colossians, Ephesians and parts of Corinthians.

    The work of Elaine Pagels, Robert Cramer and Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor in particular deals with Paul’s alleged misogyny, suggesting that the additions reflected the culture of the time as distinct from Paul’s own views, let alone God’s instructions to humankind.

    So I take issue with your proposition that a marriage is invalid if it isn’t based on “Biblical” vows that require female submission, since the relevant Bible passages are of clearly dubious authorship.

    Marie Philips, Caloundra

  • Our Heavenly Father recognises sexual relations between two people. One he calls sodomy, one he calls fornication, one he calls adultery and one he calls marriage.

    He clearly stated what he ment when he was refering to marriage:
    Mar 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
    Mar 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

    Donna Opie

  • Canon Dave Doveton from South Africa has said,
    “Where marriage is reduced to the means to companionship, the means to intimacy, the means to pleasure, the means to social standing or approval, or the means to any other number of socio-legal benefits (such as taxation privileges, medical aid benefits, adoption rights, etc), the creation institution of marriage has been deconstructed. From being a good and an end in itself to being a primary instrument to attain other ends (praiseworthy as those ends may be).”

    Further he says,
    “Companionate marriage enshrines a dualistic vision of both marriage and human beings. If bodies don’t matter in a marriage, we have adopted an instrumental understanding of the body in antithesis to the truth which is that human beings are a dynamic unity of body, mind and spirit. We are our bodies; we do not merely inhabit and use our bodies.”

    The role of the husband is love, protect and sacrifice himself for his wife who is in fact is bone of his bone. Flesh or his flesh. Ever since the sixties, when sex became detached from the boundaries of marriage and family and from the morality and truth of the Judeo/Christian faith, it has become merely a recreational activity that can be practised in whatever form one wishes; but, like high explosive that is no longer confined by its steel casing, or a nuclear core that is withdrawn from its protective surrounds, it becomes a force for destruction when it is no longer bounded by the protective laws that used to surround marriage. It has resulted in the dehumanising and the reduction of the individual to being simply a lump of meat, to the misery of unwanted pregnancies, abortion on an industrial scale, an explosion of Sexually Transmitted Diseases HIV, AIDs, rape, the continuing break up of the family and now teenage murders.

    The heterosexuals, in breaking down the barriers have given the moral right not only to the homosexuals to claim their share of the action (to public acceptance of their sexual activities) but also to those behind them who in dark places engage in paedophilia, incest, polyamory, polygamy, exhibitionism and even bestiality. These groups are known for their lack of restraint and for their risk taking. First the heterosexuals have validated homosexuality and now the homosexual has beckoned the heterosexual into these darkened cupboards . . Like a fire feeding off itself, heterosexuals are now encouraged to cast aside all restraint and seemingly outmoded inhibitions and to give full expression to their narcissistic instincts. All this has the blessing and funds of the government that propagates this sexual behaviour in schools, using agencies like the Family Planning Association.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Thanks Marie

    Wow, talk about pushing agendas. Biblical Christianity is about allowing the Word of God to sit in judgment over all our isms and ideologies. Your comment is a great example of the opposite: allowing agendas – radical feminism, higher criticism, biblical deconstructionism, liberal theology, etc. – to sit in judgment on the Word.

    Of course there is a large body of solid and even mainstream New Testament scholarship that has rebutted the likes of Pagels and other radicals. But this is not the place to deal with the intricacies of such issues as Pauline authorship, although more moderate/mainstream types like Murphy-O’Connor (who for example accepts the authenticity of 2 Tim., but not 1 Tim., and Titus) have been carefully answered by many NT experts. Cramer doesn’t even rate on the spectrum of NT scholarship.

    But this silliness about post-Pauline marginalisation of women and so on is up there on an academic par with the ramblings of Dan Brown. If you are serious about biblical scholarship, you will of course be also reading such works as Thiselton’s 1500 pager on 1 Corinthians, or Mounce or Towner on the Pastorals, etc. But it sounds like your agenda is determining who you even consult here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • In Genesis 1:15, God gives the mandate for looking after the Garden of Eden to Adam, before Eve arrives on the scene: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

    Tragically after Adam had told Eve what God has said to him concerning the Tree of Knowledge, she was tempted to eat from the Tree. As soon as both of them had eaten from it they both knew that they were naked and they tried to hide from God. God did not go after Eve but Adam. The reason for this is that it was Adam who had been given the authority and ultimate responsibility of looking after the garden, not Eve.

    Genesis 2:8ff: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

    God then curses both the serpent and Eve. Finally to Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life…..” The rest as they say is history.

    Feminists reading the passage will be infuriated by the fact that it is Adam from whom God requires an account and not Eve. This is Genesis, not the New Testament.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Hi Bill,

    I’m sorry that you have seen fit to describe my views as an “agenda”. Surely there should be room here for differences of opinion.

    Very few Christians today would regard the Bible in its entirety as the “Word of God”. As a library of books it was put together as a compromise amongst the various factions of the early Church. If an attempt were made today to call together a “council” tasked with determining which texts were the most important to Christianity there wouldn’t even be agreement on which factions should take part!

    Putting aside our differing views on Paul, there are many other books of the Bible that were controversial even in the formulation of the Carthage canon, e.g. Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2-3 John and Jude. The Catholic Church in England recently published The Gift of Scripture in which the Bible was described as a combination of the “Word of God” mixed with “human dimensions.”

    But getting back to the subject matter at hand, do you really think that the decline in the importance of the institution of marriage is going to be reversed by bringing back archaic vows about wives having to obey their husbands?

    Marriage in my experience works best when both parties work together as a team, not where one party is so insecure that he needs to be considered the “boss”.

    Marie Philips, Caloundra

  • Thanks Marie

    But it is quite clear that you are pushing an agenda here, that of theological liberalism – and big time. This is no mere quibble over minor details. At the heart of this debate is whether Scripture is authoritative in matters of faith and practice, or if it is mainly the mere scribbling of humans, as the theological liberals tend to believe.

    Your spin on this is apparent to all: “Very few Christians today would regard the Bible in its entirety as the ‘Word of God’.” Sorry, very few theological liberals “today would regard the Bible in its entirety as the ‘Word of God’.” There would be hundreds of millions of Christians throughout the world today who do have a high view of Scripture.

    And please spare us your Dan Brown version of the process of canonisation. You really do live in a very narrow theological world here. Once again I could refer you to scholarship and authors other than theological liberals, but it does not appear that you are in the least bit interested.

    And I am still baffled by your quite odd contentions made in your last two comments. This article was about the importance of marriage and family, as supported by the social science data. Then you come along asking for some biblical references to marriage. This was provided, then you go on this quite bizarre feminist crusade about submission, the marginalisation of women, “archaic vows” etc.

    Clearly you have a bee in your bonnet about all this. Just where in my article do I say a word about submission and the like? Like I say, talk about pushing agendas.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    My original comments were not directed at your article, but to John’s and Mansel’s comments, both of which refer to a “Biblical definition” of marriage with emphasis on the wife’s vow to obey her husband.

    Mansel said:
    I feel therefore that to uphold God’s definition in practice we should be aiming for the State to only recognise new marriages if such Biblically based vows are used…

    That’s a very controversial statement that, if applied retrospectively, would render invalid most existing marriages in Australia.

    I would be most interested in your views on John’s and Mansell’s comments about marriage vows. Does a Christian marriage in your view require wifely obedience or not?

    Marie Philips, Caloundra

  • Thanks Marie

    But with all due respect, I find it to be a rather odd question. We are all to obey the commands of Scripture. As to marriage, both husband and wife have mutual obligations. Husbands for example are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. There is perhaps no greater challenge than that. It means laying down your life for your wife. Biblical marriage is about mutual submission.

    The Christian life is in all aspects a life of obedience – obedience to Christ, to the commands of Scripture, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and so on. Thus I am afraid I find your aversion to, or hesitancy about, obedience to be somewhat mystifying – as well as unbiblical.

    Again, this article – and all the other comments about it – has been on the importance of marriage, especially for the well-being of children. This article was not meant to enter into the involved debate about the roles of men and women in marriage. Christians can and do disagree about these sorts of issues.

    Some take the traditional (hierarchical, complementarian) approach, and some take the liberationist (feminist, egalitarian) position. You should be aware that a Christian can argue for the latter position without resorting to the various extreme measures you seemed to have done (higher criticism, theological liberalism, radical views on inspiration, canonisation, and so on).

    Thus in your concern to push one view in this debate, you have tended to throw the baby out with the bathwater. That has been my concern all along here. But as I say, believers can disagree on the issue of the roles of men and women in marriage.

    For what it is worth, I tend to take the more traditional approach. But I have colleagues who take the liberationist approach, while still maintaining a high view of Scripture.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    I must admit the tangent this discussion took was my fault. My original comments about the definition of marriage were related, but not quite on the same topic you wrote on.

    Nevertheless, I feel we’ve had a good discussion about important points.

    For what it’s worth, my view is that one cannot maintain a high view of scripture, whilst “watering down” the very specific verses on men’s and women’s roles in marriage and in the church.

    For those interested in the arguments, I recommend Wayne Grudem’s recent book ‘Evangelical Feminism – a new path to liberalism’.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Dunstan Hartley has: “How long will it take for the secular humanist society in which we are immersed to get the message?” – the message being, I guess, that families, and the consequent good for children and society, are to be valued – but I’m beginning to think that perhaps the secular humanist rulership of our society don’t, in truth, have these as priorities; rarther, their priority is … establishing secular humanism; the children, etc., whose lives are ruined, are just expendable, in this culture war. Cynical – or realist? you decide.
    John Thomas

  • Dear Bill, I know this post is abit late but through my own experience marriage matters because it also teaches children that problems can be overcome and both parties can have a point of view even if mom & dad disagrees its ok. It teaches children resilience,something SO lacking in our children today & it teaches COMMITMENT,LOVE & DEDICATION To work hard at that commitment when they enter into anything in life they dont just give it up easily.
    Siti Khatijah

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