When Michelangelo’s David celebrated its 500th birthday, the world renowned sculpture was still unquestionably considered a masterpiece of art and design. Standing over 17 feet high, this depiction of the nude Biblical shepherd boy captures in every detail the heart of a young hero and has been a symbol of liberty and defense for centuries. Having suffered 500 years of dirt, grime and dust, it was determined by some that David needed a bit of restoration. After two years of research and careful thought, a committee was formed to determine just how to care for one of the world’s greatest treasures. Of highest importance was the preservation of the integrity of the work so that the future generations would not see the work of the “restorationists” but instead see the hand of Michelangelo himself.
Marriage celebrates its 5,000th anniversary this year, give or take a thousand years. Some say that, like David, it too needs a bit of restoration. Years of dirt and grime have obscured its natural beauty and integrity. Before launching into the job of “fixing marriage,” we should do some research. What do we know about this societal work of art? Whose hand sculpted this masterpiece? And how do we preserve and restore the beauty and purpose of this world renowned institution of marriage?
A judge in Pennsylvania simply decided to redefine the matter by allowing same sex marriage. That’s his fix to the old dusty relic. With a single pen stroke, he believes that marriage will now be less sexist, more inclusive, and more dignified. Perhaps he would also prefer plastering female body parts on David, to make the “restored” sculpture more “equal.”
Let’s step back from the debate for a moment and look at the history of the masterpiece of marriage. What was God trying to tell us about ourselves, about His character, and about our purpose? Here are just a few things that come to mind.
1. God celebrates Gender differences. He is best seen in two genders. “Let us create them in our image and after our likeness…in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27. We need to see both male and female in a covenant relationship to get the whole picture of God. Natural marriage celebrates gender. Male and female are equal, but not the same. Same sex marriage segregates and diminishes gender differences.
2. God loves Creativity. The first command in the Bible is to “Be fruitful and multiply!” After creating everything on earth, God gives us a chance to share in the creative process, “Fill the earth!” Natural marriage is creative, bringing new life. Same sex marriage limits the creative process because it can’t ever create life.
3. God communicates with Covenants. He tells us about himself by giving visual aids, symbols, parables, and physical road marks that clearly communicate His values and character. The great promises of God are made with signs that cannot be missed: Blood of animals, circumcision, the rainbow after the flood, sex and virginity. Marriage is a covenant between two people that together reveal the image of God and the fullness of the trinity–one flesh. The blood shed by a virgin bride is the seal of that promise just as Christ’s blood was the seal of his promise. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. God is trying to tell you something every time you go to a wedding. I love you, my Bride, my Church. I am your husband, you are my love.
“…For this reason, a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife…” For this reason indeed. Marriage is a symbol of God’s eternal love and covenant that is fully communicated when male and female are joined as one. Let’s make sure that future generations see the hand of the Master when they look at marriage. To redefine it is to mar a masterpiece and mock it’s designer.