Oxford’s N.T. Wright gives an explanation of the symbol of marriage in the Bible … it might mean more than you think.
Theologian N. T. Wright is concerned about society’s habit of changing words to accomplish political ends.
There are plenty of examples. In German dictionaries you’ll find the letters “N. S.” following certain definitions. He says the bracketed letters are to indicate that the meaning was assigned by the National Socialists, the Nazi’s.
In post-1917 Russia, Wright says whole groups of the Russian population were called “former people.” The definition indicated that the communist government decided those groups were no longer relevant to the state.
And now he sees the same attempt to change the definition of the word “marriage.”
In this video, Wright notes that throughout history marriage has meant an arrangement between a man and a woman. That understanding comes from God expressed through various faith groups and is derived from what he calls “the givenness of male and female” in concert with God’s creation.
He likens it to a government deciding that black is white. He says everyone may vote for that new understanding and be in favor of the idea but the decision doesn’t make it a reality.
Wright explains that in creation God made complementary pairs that work together. He claimed that’s not just something you find in one or two verses in Scripture but rather it is the entire narrative throughout the Bible that expresses the goodness of the initial creation.
According to Wright, when the definition of marriage changes to mean homosexual marriage, we are no longer keeping with the original design. Marriage simply becomes a social/sexual arrangement.
And there Wright says is the real problem that extends beyond the debate about gay marriage. Wright believes what has truly downgraded marriage in our time is not gay marriage but a changing belief that marriage is no longer about God’s original intent, it is now a social/sexual arrangement between two people, no matter their gender.
Wright fears that society in general and the church in particular have not done a good job of explaining the wonderful mystery that marriage was intended to be.