How important is marriage to culture and society? According to the Bible, marriage is a part of the created order for humankind. When Jesus was asked challenging questions about it, he stressed the critical importance of marriage and its basis in creation:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6)

What is traditional Christian marriage? How is it to be defined? The catechism of the Anglican Church of North America, which I would uphold, succinctly defines it this way:

“Marriage is the exclusive, lifelong, covenantal union of love between one man and one woman, and a reflection of the faithful love that unites God and his people. Marriage is therefore holy and should be ‘held in honor among all’ (Hebrews 13:4; see also Genesis 2:18–24; Matthew 19:4–6; Ephesians 5:21–33).”1

In June of 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couplesThough time has passed since that controversial decision, people continue to ask me various questions about it. Thus, I would like to share some of my thoughts about how I think Christians might best influence culture when it comes to controversial social issues.


Christians and Cultural Change
I wonder if evangelical Christians have possibly placed a little too much emphasis and hope on the high court’s deciding in their favor concerning critical moral and social issues. I say this even in light of the Supreme Court having had three conservative justices join its ranks in recent years. I certainly think Christians should allow their worldview to guide their civic responsibilities of voting prudently and supporting legal challenges to imprudent, improper decisions and, especially, those that violate biblical morality. But it seems to me that there may be a more effective way of influencing culture on social issues or at least a way of buttressing the efforts that are made through the courts.

Let’s look at abortion as an example. It seems to me that the pro-life perspective that historic Christendom strongly affirms has made considerable gains against abortion over the last couple of decades. Such progress has come not through the courts but by changing minds—one at a time—through rational, moral, and theological persuasion. Rationally, advancements in scientific understanding (modern human reproductive biology) and in medical technology (obstetric ultrasound) have helped to show that the unborn human is human from the moment of conception. Morally and theologically, seeing humans as being made in the image of God grants them unique dignity and genuine moral worth that competing philosophies cannot possibly match. So, while Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land and our country remains divided over abortion, “both the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] and Guttmacher [Institute] show significant recent drops and sustained declines over the last 25 years.”2

Of course, that is not to say that abortion doesn’t remain a moral violation that robs precious children made in the image of God of the gift of life. But by marshaling arguments from science, philosophy, and theology, the Christian pro-life ethic has changed minds and hearts on this critical moral issue.

Maybe Christians can achieve similar progress by upholding traditional marriage. Christians can promote the sanctity of marriage by upholding their marital vows. Churches can encourage Christians to promote traditional marriage by offering good premarital counseling and by addressing marital conflicts with faith, hope, and love. Spouses learning to live in the grace and forgiveness of the gospel can overcome problems that could potentially lead to marital separation and divorce. Christians can stress the biblical-theological truth that marriage is a metaphor for Christ’s relationship to his church (Ephesians 5:31–32) and thus marriage is sacred.

Since the Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign (Ephesians 1:11), then we know that God has allowed—for reasons we don’t know—traditional marriage to be challenged in contemporary culture. So, let’s consider two things:

First, Christians can align with the Christian worldview by voting for sound pro-life and pro-traditional marriage policies and candidates. Second, Christians can focus on using the godly example of their lives and vibrant families to morally persuade people of the value of traditional Christian marriage. Studies show that the children of traditional marriage are generally healthier, happier, and more well adjusted.3 Both are necessary.

These are some of my thoughts for your reflective and prayerful consideration about Christianity and culture.

Reflections: Your Turn

What obligations do Christians have when it comes to seeking to influence culture? Visit Reflections to comment with your response.

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes

1. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, Approved Edition, ed. J. I. Packer and Joel Scandrett (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 104–105.

2. National Right to Life, “Reported Annual Abortions, 1973–2018,” accessed June 17, 2021.

3. United States Congress Joint Economic Committee, “The Demise of the Happy Two-Parent Home,” July 23, 2020.

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



Email Sign-up

Sign up for the TWR360 Newsletter

Access updates, news, Biblical teaching and inspirational messages from powerful Christian voices.

Thank you for signing up to receive updates from TWR360.

Required information missing