In our culture today, marriage is under attack. Divorce, pornography, and adultery are on the rise affecting marriages both outside and inside the church. I have personally seen Christian marriages that I believed were “rock solid” crumble. In addition, the very definition of marriage is being altered. In the summer of 2015, SCOTUS made the decision to strike down bans on gay “marriage” in all 50 states. Since that time, others are fighting for additional re-definitions of marriage like polygamy. I remember hearing Rosaria Butterfield, a former gay rights activist, speak several months before the SCOTUS decision was made. She said that for homosexuals the issue was not really about marriage—they don’t care about marriage—but rather it was about opening the door for immorality in every area of life. How long will it be before marriage of any kind is abandoned completely?
The summer of 2015 was a real wake-up call for me. I realized that my young daughter was going to grow up in a world that was very different from the one I grew up in. Abortion, gay “marriage,” the legalization of drugs, and probably many other sins are already or will become legal in her lifetime. And not just legal but celebrated, and those who believe differently, especially Christians, would be criminalized and punished for their supposed intolerance. While these thoughts are sobering, they are also motivating. They have motivated me to make sure my daughter knows the truth about these issues from God’s Word. I want her to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks for the hope of Christ that is in her (1 Peter 3:15).
Sadly the church as a whole isn’t doing a very good job of teaching young people to defend their faith. Ken Ham’s book Already Gone showed that many 20-somethings that had grown up in the church left, and the reason they left was because they doubted the Bible was true, especially in Genesis. Ken’s newest book Ready to Return focuses on 20-somethings that grew up in the church but have remained there. Sadly there isn’t much difference in the beliefs of these two groups, only their location as it pertains to where they are on Sunday morning.
In the Ready to Return study, young adults were asked, “Is homosexual behavior a sin?” Over 40% said no or they don’t know. When asked, “Should gay couples be allowed to marry and have legal rights?” over 50% said yes or they don’t know. These 20-somethings are clearly either confused or ignorant about what the Bible teaches about the definition of sexuality and marriage.
The Bible makes abundantly clear in both the Old and New Testaments that homosexuality is a sin (e.g., Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26–27). The Bible is also clear that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Genesis 1:26–27 states that God created both male and female (Adam and Eve) in His image. Genesis 2 gives us more details concerning the creation of Adam and Eve, and then in verse 24 God marries Adam and Eve, creating a “one-flesh” union. Thus, marriage is defined as between a man and a woman and that definition is reinforced throughout all of Scripture. When Jesus is asked a question about marriage some 4,000 years after the creation and marriage of Adam and Eve, He quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, affirming again God’s definition of male and female as distinct image bearers and marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
In Ephesians 5:22–33, we get a clear picture of the God-designed, distinct roles for husbands and wives in marriage and the spiritual picture that marriage symbolizes. Just as the husband is the leader and the wife is to submit to that leadership, so Christ is the leader and the church is to submit to His leadership. Two men or two women marrying would not display that symbolism. The marriage of two leaders (the role God distinctly gives men as husbands) or two submitters (the role God distinctly gives women as wives) would not symbolize the leader and submitter roles of Christ and the church.
Some might argue that in a gay “marriage” of two men, one could take on the role of submitter and with two women one could take on the role of leader. However, the roles of leader and submitter are ingrained in the very sequence of the creation of Adam and Eve and, thus, in their maleness and femaleness. God created Adam first (from the dust of the ground) and gave him the authority to not only name the animals but also to name his wife (Genesis 2:23, 3:20). In Old Testament times, this was considered a sign of authority for the person doing the naming. God signified that He was going to make a “helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18) and He made the woman from a rib from Adam’s side. The role of helper would be understood as someone who helps the person doing the leading. While men and women within marriage have equal value and equal standing before God, they have distinct roles so that they might reflect the roles of Christ and the church. The union of anything else under the name of “marriage” does not accomplish this. It presents a distorted picture of what God created.
So why do these 20-somethings struggle with believing what the Bible says about homosexuality and marriage? Because they don’t believe the Bible is true. In the Ready to Return study, when asked “Does the Bible contain errors?” over 30% said yes or they don’t know. They were also asked, “If you believe the Bible contains errors, can you identify one of those errors for me?” This was not a multiple-choice question, but over 50% of the respondents indicated the errors were in Genesis. They believed the Bible was wrong about the age of the Earth, Noah’s Flood was not real, and that Genesis in general had been disproved. Considering that the definition of male and female as distinct image bearers and of marriage as a union between a man and a woman are rooted in the history of Genesis, is it any surprise that for many of these 20-somethings homosexuality is not a sin and gay “marriage” is to be celebrated?! If Genesis isn’t true when it comes to the age of the Earth or Noah’s Flood, then why believe it when it talks about the distinct roles of male and female within marriage and the definition of marriage.
The 20-somethings in the church are the church’s future leaders. They are the ones who are going to fundamentally change the church and the culture for good or bad. The problem is that they have not been taught creation and biblical apologetics. For many, they are not sure what they believe, and even if they know what they believe they have no idea how to defend it. Their beliefs don’t look very different from the 20-somethings that grew up in the church and left. In fact, their beliefs don’t look very different from that of the world! The church is supposed to influence the culture, not the other way around. If we fail at teaching just one generation the truth and authority of God’s Word, what will happen? Atheist and physicist Dr. Lawrence Krauss knows, as reflected in this statement:
Change is always one generation away. So if we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion will go away in a generation, or at least largely go away—and that’s what I think we have an obligation to do.1
We have an obligation as parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, pastors, and so on, to teach the next generation to defend their faith (apologetics)—to teach them that this is an issue of authority. Is God in charge or is man? If God is in charge, then His Word is clear—homosexuality is a sin and marriage is the union of one man and one woman. These truths are rooted in the history of Genesis and confirmed throughout the rest of Scripture. In addition, we have an obligation to teach our kids the gospel that is rooted in the history in Genesis. Apologetics is important, but only Jesus saves.
Parents, I have special challenge to you. Please realize that just because a child grows up in a Christian home, attends a Christian church, goes to a Christian school, or is homeschooled, it is no guarantee that they will know what they believe and why they believe it. We must be proactive in training our children in apologetics; no “lazy parenting” allowed! I want my daughter to be able to share the gospel effectively, and the only way she is going to be able to do that in this perverse, depraved, and wicked world is to defend the truth of God’s Word from the very first verse. You see, not only are the definitions of sexuality and marriage rooted in the history of Genesis, so is the gospel. If Adam isn’t real, then original sin doesn't exist. So what exactly do we need to be saved from? What did Jesus die for? Why is the gospel the good news if the bad news of sin doesn't exist because Genesis isn’t true history? Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 make clear the connection between the sin and death brought into this world by Adam and the salvation and eternal life offered through Christ’s death and Resurrection.
Answers in Genesis provides many resources to help parents and others equip the next generation with solid creation and biblical apologetic training. Be sure to check out the children, youth, and family sections in our online store. I highly recommend our Sunday school curriculum, , to any church that is serious about training children, youth, and adults to defend their faith. Don’t let the next generation be a lost generation, but a generation that brings reformation to the church and the culture.