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Our radically confused society is debating the meaning of marriage with increasing intensity. That question leads to a host of other issues—especially the boundaries of sexual behavior and the nature of procreation. No one is untouched by this debate.

Confusion in society spreads easily to the church. To help bring a biblical perspective to these discussions, Christianity Today offers this special section, the first of a series. Here we focus on the meaning of marriage in light of the national debate about gay marriage. In future issues, we'll go down other paths.

As we address these issues over the long term, we hope to communicate two things: First, a definite "no" to calls to lower the moral bar (whether they come from within the church or from secular critics). And second, a decided "yes" to respect and extend compassion to the people who advocate views and practices we oppose. The issues are too important to fall short in either direction.
   —Editors

"Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?" So Jesus declares that in the first marriage and in every marriage since, it is God himself who joins particular members of the opposite sex together in a natural relation unlike any other.

All societies have honored this special union that Christians, Jews, and Muslims rightly recognize to be a gift of the Creator. Even in an atheistic context like Russia during the Communist period, Muscovite couples were married with festal trappings at what passed for a sacred site, Lenin's tomb.

Our generation has introduced a tear in this universal ...

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September 2004

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