If there's one thing we evangelicals are good at creating, it's a backlash. When the culture starts going crazy, we react. That's not a bad thing—in fact, resisting and challenging the troubling dimensions of mainstream culture is what we are supposed to do. But sometimes our reactions are so extreme that they become a problem themselves.

I believe we are seeing such a backlash now regarding marriage. As Western society attempts to redefine marriage as whatever anyone wants it to mean, according to the whim of the moment, many Christians are fighting to preserve what we believe is a God-ordained institution, and to promote lasting, healthy traditional marriages. That's exactly as it should be.

The problem arises when we make marriage sound like it is only an institution. Certain influential Christians seem to promote a vision of marriage as a duty—and little else.

In her book Get Married, for example, Candice Watters recalls "… sitting in class learning about all the ways our country was slipping from its constitutional foundations. And in a moment of exasperation, I raised my hand and called out, 'So what's the solution?' … Dr. Hubert Morken didn't disappoint. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and let his grenade fly: 'Get married, make babies, and do government. That's how we win.' "

In other words, lie back and think of America. Just go out and get married. And if you're not in love, get over it and get married anyway.

  • Author and psychologist Stephen Simpson, quoted at Crosswalk.com, argues, "Falling in love before you got married or engaged was a twentieth-century concept." Really? Jacob and Rachel lived in the 20th century? Song of Solomon was written in the 20th century? And Romeo and Juliet and Jane Eyre? Simpson is trying to make a point about how much our romantic ideas and practices have changed, but such a sweeping statement only causes confusion instead of clearing it up.
Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueDo We Need a Stronger Word for 'Faith'?
Do We Need a Stronger Word for 'Faith'? Subscriber Access Only
Why theologian Matthew Bates would have evangelicals profess ‘allegiance’ to Christ.
RecommendedBarnabas Piper Isn't Hiding from His Divorce
Barnabas Piper Isn't Hiding from His Divorce
The writer, speaker, podcaster, and pastor’s kid opens up about the burdens of watching a marriage die.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
God Loves a Good Romance
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.