What’s Behind Today’s Attacks on Marriage?

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Today’s explosive attacks on marriage are driven by a sinister plot.

By the time you read this article, I will have returned from whisking my lovely bride away to a secret location in celebration of our twentieth wedding anniversary. And while I must preface the coming statement with the obligatory “It’s not perfect,” by God’s grace, we have a wonderful marriage, and I can wholeheartedly say my wife is my greatest earthly blessing! Regrettably, many people miss the wonderful purpose and profound joy of marriage because they’ve been influenced by a number of lies about this biblical institution.

Without question the biblical concept of marriage—one man for one woman for life—is under severe assault today. Under the influence of the “father of lies” (John 8:44), Western culture is redefining and dismissing this foundational institution. The enemy’s tactics have been calculated and catastrophically effective.

Why have his attacks been so devastating? The answer is complex, but a major factor in Satan’s recent success is his attack on foundations. You see, for a culture to abandon the ingrained, traditional, biblical definition of marriage, it first must question the source of that definition. This is the devil’s strategy, and it’s not a new scheme. His ploy is as old as Genesis 3: “Did God really say?

The strategy is simple: Use subtle questions and seemingly harmless ideas to get people to doubt, and ultimately reject, the authority of God’s Word. Undermine biblical teachings by undermining the Bible itself.

Sadly, many Christians have missed the true nature of this fight because they’ve swallowed the secular propaganda that tolerance means being neutral on social and moral issues. But according to the Bible, neutrality is impossible. Jesus says in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Either God’s Word is the authority or it’s not.

Another reason Christians are befuddled by the enemy’s present triumph is that we’ve missed the flashpoint of today’s Genesis 3 attack on God’s authority. Paul warns, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Satan has been using the same fundamental attack throughout history, just manifested in diverse ways. In the modern era, he has strategically undermined the Bible’s history in Genesis with evolutionary ideas and millions of years. This subtle tactic has caused multiple generations to question and discard biblical authority. Countless souls have concluded—rationally—that if we can’t trust the Bible when it speaks of origins, we have no reason to trust it about morality, marriage, or salvation.

So how do we deal with today’s attack on biblical marriage? By understanding the foundational nature of the fight and following the example of Jesus. When the dominant thinkers in the culture of his day questioned him about marriage, he did something radical. He quoted the Bible as the authority! He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4–5).

How did Jesus define and defend marriage? He quoted from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24. He demonstrated that the doctrine of marriage is based on the truth of Genesis’ history and biology. Following this example, Christians can say authoritatively, uncompromisingly, and lovingly that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. Why? Because the God who created marriage designed it that way, and he defined it—in Genesis. But if that history in Genesis is not true, or God’s Word is not the authority, then why not redefine marriage into whatever you want it to be? That is exactly what our culture is doing today.

So, when we define and defend marriage biblically, marriage is easy, right? (This is where every married person laughs.) Wrong. Even the best marriages built on a biblical foundation aren’t perfect or effortless. It doesn’t take any newlywed long to recognize marriage can be difficult. Why? The answer, again, is in Genesis, specifically Genesis 3. There we find the historical record of sin entering the world with death and Curse in tow. Some of the judgments listed in Genesis 3 have direct ramifications in marriage relationships. And in general, since all people descend from Adam, we’re all sinners by nature (and choice). That means selfishness and pride are our default settings. The reason we often struggle in marriage is not necessarily a spouse or child, but our own sin. I can’t help but think of James 4:1—“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?Verse 2 goes on to say, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

Marriage is the reality of two sinners being brought into close, constant, intimate proximity. Not only that, but those two sinners live in a broken, sin-cursed world that can easily provoke our already sinful state in any number of ways. That’s why it’s vital that we strive daily to abide in Christ (John 15:1–17), being ever molded more into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18), putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13), fulfilling the God-ordained roles and purpose of marriage to his glory! As we do this, we will experience the real joy of marriage and realize that it is one of God’s best tools for sanctification.

It is in the sacred text of that first biblical book that we discover marriage’s origin, definition, and purpose.

Marriage finds its genesis in Genesis. It is in the sacred text of that first biblical book that we discover marriage’s origin, definition, and purpose. Today’s clash over marriage is fundamentally a battle over authority. Either we acknowledge the Bible as God’s Word and our ultimate authority, or we arbitrarily follow man’s word.

And just as standing on all of Scripture arms Christians with answers to scientific questions, it also gives us effective answers to today’s moral questions. By unleashing the truthfulness and authority of all of God’s Word, starting in Genesis, we can effectively contend for the faith (Jude 1:3), encourage the believer, challenge the skeptic, and clear a path for the gospel.

Bryan Osborne is a speaker at Answers in Genesis. He earned his master’s degree in education from Lee University, and for 13 years he taught Bible history in a public school in Tennessee.

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