Wright notes how for thousands of years marriage has been understood this way because of the reality clearly displayed in nature and goes onto explain how it is also weaved into the foundations of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim worldviews. “If you believe in what it says in Genesis 1, about God making heaven and earth, then the binaries in Genesis are so important (heaven and earth, and sea and dry land, and so on and so on), and you end up with male and female.” In other words Genesis explains how creation is “all about God making complementary pairs which are meant to work together.”
In fact, it is a theme throughout the Bible right to the end where Revelation has the picture of “the new heaven and the new earth, and the symbol for that is the marriage of Christ and his church.”
This complementarity is at the heart of the world and humanity. This goes some way to explain the importance of marriage in that “a male-plus-female marriage is a signpost or a signal about the goodness of the original creation and God’s intention for the eventual new heavens and new earth.”
Wright suggests that this “complementarity” is lost in the attempts to redefine marriage. It is reduced to little more than “a convenient social arrangement and sexual arrangement.”
If this is what our society has come to, Wright suggests that “we haven’t done a very good job in society as a whole, and in the church in particular, in teaching just what a wonderful mystery marriage is supposed to be.”
The current debate over redefining marriage is in itself a signpost of how far our community has come in deliberately moving away from its Christian roots and away from the wonder and mystery of the life we have received. It is perhaps also a sign of the depth of our arrogance where we believe we can turn aside the wisdom of millennia on the presumption that today we know better.
As Wright concludes, “I think it’s a nonsense. It’s like a government voting that black should be white. Sorry, you can vote that if you like, you can pass it by a total majority, but it isn’t actually going to change the reality.”
It may not be long before our governments legislate to redefine the meaning of the word “marriage,” yet, if Wright’s observations are correct, it won’t change the essential nature of the complementarity of the created order. Our call to be a signpost of the goodness and complementarity of God’s design, along with being a present and visible as a signpost of God’s future intentions for the world will not change but be heightened and intensified.
May Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit prepare us, his church, for that day.
Stephen L Baxter