Article

Marriage Matters: Contemporary Threats to Biblical Marriage

Feb 26, 2014

At this year's ERLC Leadership Summit on "The Gospel and Human Sexuality," Andrew Walker will be speaking on the threats to biblical marriage in his session “Marriage Matters: Contemporary Threats to Biblical Marriage.” Walker serves are the director for policy studies at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. 

If you're interested in attending the Summit, go here.

At the ERLC Leadership Summit, you will be speaking on “Marriage Matters: Contemporary Threats to Biblical Marriage”. Why is this an important issue for evangelical churches to consider?

The gospel doesn’t come to us solely as individuals. We’re saved as individuals, of course, but the Christian life is lived out, more often than not, as spouses, so marriage is at the heart of our churches. Discipleship can never be disjointed from the institution that shapes our identity, which marriage necessarily does. I’d wager that our churches are only as strong as the marriage culture that is within them. Where apathy and a refusal to address the hard situtions crop up, we not only sacrifice our gospel witness, but we also catalyze human destruction.

When you think about biblical marriage, what is a key aspect of that issue that churches aren’t addressing adequately? Why is that the case?

The ship has sailed on subjects like same-sex marriage, but one reason it has is because we’ve fostered a “Happily Ever After” view of marriage in our churches. We’ve largely over-emphasized the personal dynamics of marriage and under-emphasized, almost totally, the public dynamic of marriage. Marriage is connected to personal holiness, of course, but it’s also tied to, for example, rates of abuse, neglect, and educational outcomes in our communities. Christians have a great opportunity to cast a larger vision for marriage not only in our churches, but also in our communities.

This conference seeks to apply the gospel to issues related to human sexuality. What are some ways the gospel relates to biblical marriage?

At the center of the universe, there’s a marriage banquet where Christ has prepared the table. From the creational aspects of marriage in Genesis 2, to the gospel-revealing contours of marriage in Ephesians 5, the Scriptures suggest—mysteriously—that marriage makes the gospel intelligible. Where we see faithfulness, long-suffering patience, and servitude in a marital context, the Scriptures announce that a gospel-like witness has occurred.

If evangelical churches transformed the way they handled the subject of biblical marriage, how would it reshape their congregations?

We’d see less divorce and, therefore, less human wreckage. We treat divorce as a spiritual blight—which it is! But in the wake of a divorce, there’s a host of lost relationships and a breakdown in human capital that makes life so much harder. Chiefly, I want to see pastors and congregants confront the breakdown or deterioration of marriage in their own congregation. From there, though, I hope I can cast a vision of marriage that connects the personal aspects of marriage to the public aspects of marriage. 

Register for the Summit here.