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Tomorrow (May 8) voters in North Carolina will decide whether to approve a state constitutional amendment that says “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in [North Carolina].”

Jim Garlow

The commentary below is by the Rev. Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa, Calif., who fought for passage of similar pro-marriage legislation in California in 2008.

Dr. Garlow founded the California Pastors Rapid Response Team, a group of pastors who endorsed Proposition 8, a state initiative that said “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Proposition 8 was approved by a majority of California voters but was later overturned by a U.S. District Court Judge.

Jim Garlow holds degrees from Drew University (Ph.D.), Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.M.), and Asbury Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

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God is neither male nor female (John 4:24), yet the Bible says human beings are made in the “image of God” (Gen. 1:26-27).

This image is expressed in us individually, but a more complete version is on display when the two halves of humanity complement each other and become one.

A male, by himself, is not fully representative of all the descriptors of the image of God. At the same time, a female, by herself, cannot do justice to the full spectrum of the image of God. However, when the two complementary halves of humanity unite — physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and psychologically — the image of God is more fully expressed.

This is why male and female are made for oneness — anatomically, emotionally, and spiritually. Joined together, a husband and wife represent the full spectrum of the “image” of God.

One part of God’s image is his life-giving creativity. In sexual union, a man and a woman become, in a sense, “co-creators” with God. As husband and wife unite, children come into being — one more expression of the image (creativity) of God. A sperm and an egg unite to form (miraculously) a human! A person!

The undeniable components for displaying this life-giving aspect of the image of God are male and female, the complementary halves of humanity, becoming one.

When Jesus participated in a wedding (John 2:1-11) or spoke of marriage (Matt. 19:3-11), the context was the joining of male and female in “oneness marriage” that expresses the notion of the image of God.

The idea of “two becoming one” is the why the Bible never affirms or even suggests the idea of male-male or female-female “marriage.” Nowhere. Not overtly. Not covertly.

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Earthly marriage is but a shadow

Marriage is obviously a key image in Scripture. The Bible opens with a marriage — between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:4-25). The Bible closes with a wedding — between a groom and bride (Rev. 19:6-9). In between, one man-one woman marriage is extolled in both the Old (Prov. 18:22) and New Testaments (Heb. 13:4), as well as by Jesus Himself.

But let’s take our understanding of marriage to the next level.

We tend to think that “real” marriage is that which we see here on earth. We assume that God simply “borrowed” the metaphor of marriage in the Book of the Revelation in an attempt to describe what will happen at the culmination of all history — the marriage of Jesus and the church.

We have it backward.

The real marriage is the one at the culmination of history, the Marriage of The Groom (Jesus) and The Bride (The Church).

We have never ever seen the real marriage. It is yet to come — at the end of time. Here on earth, we only have a “shadow” of the real thing. Earthly marriage is merely the hors d’oeuvre, the appetizer, not the main course.

God established earthly marriage — between a man and a woman — to provide a tiny foretaste of the spectacular True Marriage that is to come. Intimacy between a married man and woman is but a minuscule glimpse of the breathtaking oneness that Jesus and the Church will experience.

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A satanic strategy

It should come as no surprise that Satan is obsessed with destroying marriage — the fitting together of male and female, the two complimentary halves of humanity. After all, marriage is meant to be a mirror, an image, of what is to be fulfilled at the end of this age.

From this perspective, the battle we face today is not ultimately about earthly marriage or about religious freedom — or even about the practice of homosexuality as such.

It is about Satan’s desire to mar the picture of God’s ultimate design for the Cosmos: the Grand Wedding of His Son to the Prepared Bride.


Related posts
Bishop Mack Stokes: Holiness in human sexuality
Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
Renewal & Reform Coalition responds to retired bishops’ call to alter UMC’s sexuality standards
In embracing homosexual marriage, Foundry UMC rejects UM boundaries, breaks with 2 millennia of church teaching
Judicial Council says no to same-sex marriage

Related articles and information
United Methodists uphold policy that calls homosexuality ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ | Daniel Burke, Religion News Service (May 3, 2012)
The church addresses marriage and sexuality | Thomas A. Lambrecht, Good News (January/February 2012)
Book Review: Forgetting How To Blush: United Methodism’s Compromise with the Sexual Revolution by Karen Booth | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (March/April 2012)
UM clergy vow to wed homosexual couples | Sam Hodges, UM Reporter (July 15, 2011)
Eros defended or eros defiled — What do Wesley and the Bible say? | Ben Witherington, The Bible and Culture (Patheos.com) (Feb. 14, 2011)
Christianity elevates sexual morality (a historical overview of the Christian church’s teaching on sexual morality) — Chapter 3 of How Christianity Changed the World | Alvin Schmidt (Zondervan, 2004 — via Google Books)
Book: Staying the Course: Supporting the Church’s Position on Homosexuality (ordering details) | Maxie Dunnam and H. Newton Malony, ed. (Abingdon Press, 2003)
United Methodist churches perform same-sex weddings with one foot in the closet | Amanda Hess, TBD.com (Sept. 30, 2010)
What the evidence really says about Scripture and homosexual practice: Five issues (PDF) | Robert A. J. Gagnon (March 2009)
How churches can refine message on homosexuality | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 19, 2008)
Homosexuality and the Great Commandment (an address to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh) | Peter C. Moore (November 2002)
‘Good News’ says push to accept homosexual practice threatens to split United Methodist Church | United Methodist News Service (May 6, 1997)

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