The Debate about Same-Sex Marriage is Not a Secondary Issue

Dr. Preston Sprinkle – July 31, 2017

That may sound like a bold claim, and maybe it is, but it’s important that you read the previous post before you read this one. In short, there are many methodological questions that often go unanswered when Christians are quick to say that same-sex marriage is or isn’t a primary theological (or gospel, or essential, etc.) issue. We need to figure out how we determine, not just declare that we have determined, such and such to be a gospel issue.

Here are some of my working thoughts on why I don’t believe that same-sex marriage (and therefore same-sex sexual relationships) is simply a secondary issue—like premillennialism vs. amillennialism, or whatever. I don’t actually love the neatly graded scale of first and second and third-order doctrines. It feels too mechanical and modern, and I’m not convinced that the Bible divides itself in terms of important and non-important doctrines. I prefer to think in terms of the biblical story and weighing which aspects of that story are more important or more tertiary than others. That is, I like to think in terms of a spectrum than 1, 2, 3 categories, though however you slice it, there is some level of subjectivity going into this discussion, but that’s true of any discussion.

In any case, there are several doctrines that almost all Christians would say aren’t essential to the biblical storyline, like the timing of the rapture (if you still believe in that sort of thing) or drinking alcohol or the millennium or (and this one’s more debated, I guess) the age of the earth. I don’t think that same-sex marriage is like of these doctrines. It’s more essential to the story of creation and redemption. Here are three reasons why. 

First, whenever marriage is mentioned in Scripture, sex difference is either assumed or explicitly asserted as an essential part of what marriage is. This point is supported by both a narrative (or biblical theological) and an exegetical reading of Scripture. A narrative reading considers Scripture from the standpoint of the overarching story. Every piece of the text plays a role, but there are some themes that are more fundamental to tell the story.

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