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As an institution, marriage provides a unique point of access into the structure of reality.And of all the subjects we might possibly take up in this world, few bring together the cluster of personal desires, society, law, tradition, history, theology the way this one does (along with many other strands, no doubt).
Submitting to Scriptural authority is an essential starting point for understanding, but it cannot be the end.
This erosion of confidence may not show up in opinion polling, but it has been noticeable in the conversations I have had nonetheless.
These questions are perennially interesting and they entangle us all.
Gay, straight, single, married, the childless and parents—even those who permanently deny themselves marriage are, through their negation, shaped by it.
Or should we perhaps frame the question differently?
Should we instead take up what marriage makes of us, and so consider ourselves as fundamentally responsive to it rather than creative?As we respond to the public controversy about marriage, we are given the opportunity to grasp this reality anew.When that which is given is called into question, we must provide an account.I was not always the happily married man I am today, and my path into this status was anything but smooth.My adult life began with a romance that ended badly.All this has had a considerable effect on younger evangelicals, even if the transformations may have been more subtle than the blunt instruments of “yes or no” polls might allow.Many younger evangelicals with conservative theological positions no longer support the state’s recognition of traditional marriage.But for that account to be persuasive it must stretch out toward the things themselves and lay them bare so that they can be accepted, and the institution renewed, or rejected. We need not know when we set out all the reasons for a particular position, even if we already affirm it.It is reasonable to affirm a stance on the grounds that it has the strength of a tradition behind it.The chemist in the lab may only have a dim grasp of all the preceding scientific work that enables their research, but if he tosses it aside for that reason he shall find progress rather difficult.Traditions do sometimes need their barnacles scraped off or the occasional rejection outright.