CINCINNATI (SBTS) — The institution of marriage does not come from human or social invention but God’s creation order, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during a televised forum on marriage on Cincinnati's WCPO, April 15.
The forum, “The Changing Face of Marriage,” was co-sponsored by Cincinnati’s ABC television affiliate and DecodeDC, a podcast/blog produced by Scripps Washington bureau.
“[The family] is the first school, that’s the first government, and a very real sense, in a biblical worldview, it’s the first church,” he said. “What takes place in the home is the most important human institution and it’s absolutely essential for human flourishing, it’s one of God’s greatest gifts to his creatures. That’s why we take it with such importance.”
Mohler emphasized that his view of marriage is not merely a “snapshot” from American traditionalism, but that it goes “all the way back to God’s intention in creation,” which does not change across the biblical canon.
“In the very second chapter of Scripture you have the union of a man and woman, and you have Jesus [affirming that],” Mohler said. “There’s an overwhelming consistency there.”
The biblical view of marriage is clear in the order of the natural world, Mohler said, since even societies outside the Judeo-Christian tradition have understood marriage is for procreation and should be an honored part of civilization.
“We didn’t come up with that in the 1950’s,” he said. “I would argue we didn’t come up with that in Western civilization at all, that was actually written in nature by the creator who made it.”
Since marriage is so central to human existence, it ought to be considered in terms of what leads to the true good of society, including the “well-being of children” and general human happiness, he said.
“It comes down to what we believe really leads to human happiness and human flourishing,” he said. “Marriage is the presenting issue, and that’s a big issue, but the larger issue is what’s really going to lead to human flourishing.”
When one of the moderators asked whether the Southern Baptist Convention featured differing opinions on marriage, Mohler said that since the controversy regarding biblical authority in the 1970s and 1980s, the SBC has been consistent in its message. In 2000, the SBC included a definition of marriage in its confessional statement, the Baptist Faith and Message.
The difference between a conservative view of marriage and a liberal one generates from opinions about divine revelation and the Bible, Mohler said.
“The dividing didn’t just all of the sudden happen over marriage,” he said. “The dividing line happened in the 20th Century, in the early decades, over miracles, and the doctrine of the Trinity, and the deity of Christ, and the authority of Scripture. Those lines are pretty much exactly what you could have predicted from the 1930s to the present when it comes to the issue of marriage.”
The marriage forum, held by the WCPO-Cincinnati television station, featured contributions from thinkers and writers with various perspectives on marriage and the family. The program included Stephanie Coontz, who teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and Chris Seelbach, the first openly gay member of the Cincinnati City Council.
Video of the forum is available at: http://www.wcpo.com/marriage
James A. Smith Sr.
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