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Language is complex. Language provides the building blocks for communication in society.  What certain words or phrases mean within a given context helps to shape the understanding of the culture at large. Words, and their definitions, are what organize society. Words that define a culture’s foundational institutions most of all. Concise language provides clarity and direction for communities, cultures, and countries.

Language matters. It is important to define what I mean by language here. By language, I simply mean the common words used in a culture and their natural meanings. I am not pitting a *type* of language (English, Spanish, German etc.) against another. It is within these *types* of language that we find the foundational elements of society.

What is a Woman?

It is this fundamental organizing principle of language that is at the heart of the Daily Wire documentary What is a Woman.[1] In it, conservative commentator Matt Walsh seeks to hammer down a definition of the word woman.  In one of the more interesting choices of the documentary he travels to Kenya to meet with a Mosai tribe to seek out their perspective on the topic. In this scene the point of how words are defined is poignantly made. The Mosai do not struggle with what a woman is because they have clearly defined the word within their culture, however, gender theory activists struggled to define the word beyond a mere tautology (a circular definition like: “Apple is defined as an apple”). The ambiguity in our culture concerning the definition of woman is the point and confusion is the natural product. This confusion leads to the dismantling of any cultural implications for the word. In fact, it seems to be erasing the concept entirely. When the definition of a word becomes tautological it is rendered useless. (i.e., if we don’t know what a woman is, then it’s no clearer if we define a woman as “someone who is a woman”).

We must now say “pregnant people”[2] or “birthing person” to not offend those that embrace the new non-definition of woman.  As that definition erodes, the science follows.  Ambiguity leads to confusion, confusion leads to pointlessness, pointlessness leads to identity crisis which ends in nihilism.

Ambiguity leads to confusion, confusion leads to pointlessness, pointlessness leads to identity crisis which ends in nihilism.

This is not a new problem for our progressive society. The redefinition of love[3] into tautology has eroded trust in truth[4], made sexual experience only about consent, and opened the doors for polyamory, bestiality, and even pedophilia. Most recently, our culture has chosen to do the same to the word marriage, and what is worse, many conservatives simply go along with it.

What is a Marriage?

In 2015 the Supreme Court unilaterally decided to change the definition of marriage[5] and recently, Congress followed suit by ratifying the ironically named Respect for Marriage Act[6] in which the legality of gay marriage is codified into federal law. Leaving aside (what should be) the obvious religious liberty complications, the redefinition of marriage, while trivial to some, is a defining moment in the history of this nation.

Marriage is one of those words that has provided the foundation for society for hundreds of years, and not just western society. Much ink has been spilled about what it means for a secular society to redefine marriage.[7] The secular arguments are important because they rest at the heart of society. Marriage, in principle, is the union between two adult human beings, for life, based on the principle of procreation. Alan Keyes, in this debate with Barak Obama in 2004 puts it succinctly:

When the moderator presses the issue with exceptions (elderly couples, infertility, etc.) Keyes does not bat an eye. The idea of procreation being principally possible in marriage is not undermined by outliers and does not open the door for impossibilities. Surrogate procreation, which many homosexual couples have turned to,[8] helps to prove Keyes’ point. The impossibility of natural procreation, in principle, within the confines of homosexual partnership turns procreation into a consumeristic experience rather than a foundational building block for society.

But this redefinition of marriage goes deeper than procreation. It goes straight to the heart of parenthood. Statistics show that children growing up in a two parent (mother and father) household “do better.”[9] The foundational elements of western society are dependent on a majority of children growing up under the direction and nurture of a father and mother. Again, there are outliers within the data, but the principle here stands firm on the scientific evidence. Marriage, as defined throughout history, is foundational for a functioning and moral society.

That is not to say that there is no possibility of same-sex unions providing stable and loving environments where children will thrive and grow into functional members of society, but it is to say that without the foundation of marriage, as historically defined, this possibility becomes far more remote.

Secular History of Marriage?

Those who study history know this full well. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels built a key tenant of their argument on the destruction of the nuclear family.[10] They understood that the keys to overturning the structures of society rested in redefining the foundational institutions of said society: “Theoretically, any sexual relationship between mutually consenting persons would be possible. What would not be possible would be the security of a life-long marriage. This sexual relationship could not be chosen.”[11]

It is for this reason that the Black Lives Matter movement embraced the destruction of the nuclear family, “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.”[12] There is a deeper and more sinister work at play in dismantling the family system founded by the God.

I say founded by God because it is so, and again, Marx and Engels understood this well. If they could dismantle religion[13]and disrupt the institution of the family the revolution would naturally occur.

Scripture on Marriage

Beyond the secular arguments there stands the argument based on the truths of scripture.  How the church ought to define marriage, fight for marriage, and interact with culture on the topic of marriage is of the utmost import. The Respect for Marriage Act will force churches across the nation to choose a side and prepare for direct confrontation. First amendment protections are not clearly defined (this is a feature of the bill, not a bug) and thus, the tax-exempt status of conservative churches that embrace biblical values will come under scrutiny.

I am not going to argue for the tax-exempt status of the church, but I will argue that the American church will have to choose, possibly for the first time, whether to confront the government head on and deal with the consequences therein or toe the political line. There are, of course, issues that do not call for the church to be confrontational, but the abolition of traditional marriage is not one of them.

The biblical case for marriage is powerful and simple.  Many progressive objectors point to the ubiquitous presence of polygamy within the Bible as a contradiction of the traditional marriage values orthodox Christians espouse. This dishonest trope fails (or refuses) to recognize the difference between prescriptive and descriptive text.

God establishes the marriage covenant at the outset of Creation: “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24). Jesus affirms this definition in Matthew 19:5-6. Paul affirms it as a qualification for eldership in 1 Timothy 3:2, as a picture of Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5:21-33 and refers back to in clarifying the relationship of husband and wife in 1 Corinthians 7.

But what About All the Polygamy in the Old Testament?

Good question. Polygamy is handled much like slavery in scripture, it is not endorsed by God, but it is regulated.  The regulation comes with intention of future eradication. Exodus 21:7-11 and Deuteronomy 21:15-17 offer these regulations. However, many Jewish scholars believe Leviticus 18:18 might prohibit it directly.[14]

As David Wilbur says: “…We can understand the Torah’s polygamy legislation as representing not God’s perfect will but his response to the realities of a fallen world. In the beginning, polygamy, like divorce, “was not so.” Marriage in creation was a monogamous union.”[15]

The first case of polygamy in scripture is noted as an aberration in Genesis 4:19. Lamech was the great-great-great grandson of Cain. It took five generations from the Fall for humanity to introduce the concept of polygamy and everywhere that polygamy and sexual deviancy followed so did turmoil. From Abraham and his concubine to Lot and his daughters, to Jacob and his wives, we find that sexual sin is the direct result of rebellion (Romans 1).

Why this foray into polygamy as we seek to defend the definition of traditional marriage?  Simple. As the polygamy of the Old Testament affirms, the dismantling of the institution of marriage carries with it dire consequences. One of the themes of the Old Testament is that of humanity’s rebellion in all of God’s designs. Marriage is no exception.  We find similar issues throughout Israel’s history; the multiple marriages and sexual sins of Israel’s monarchy are directly related to dysfunction in the Royal family and in the nations of Israel and Judah themselves.

This is why Jesus calls the church his Bride. There is a reestablishment of God’s purposes in the language of marriage.  It is one of the only human institutions ordained by God prior to the fall that is carried over into the church age by Jesus Christ himself. The orthodox view of marriage ties us back to the original design of the garden.  The redefinition of marriage in our culture carries with it a similar harbinger of things to come as Lamech’s choice to marry two women in Genesis 4. In Genesis 6 we find the world in wicked disarray. That is not necessarily because of Lamech’s choice to marry two women, but the dismantling of the institution was a symptom of a wider and more insidious problem. The wickedness of the heart.

So it is with our own society. The redefinition of marriage into a mere commitment based on a tautology. Marriage has become a contract concerning two consenting individuals that love each other and want to spend their lives together (so long as it is convenient, annulment of the marriage is simple enough when things get hard). What is love? Well, love is love.  Affection and desire.  Emotive infatuation.  A lifetime commitment based on absurdity, and we wonder why divorce is rampant.

But if love is love and consent is all that matters who is to say that man-beast[16] marriage is immoral? Or man-child marriage? Or polygamy? You might scoff, as many have, and glibly assure me that this slippery slope is only in my mind, but a New York judge recently ruled in favor of polyamory.[17] If a 5-year-old can choose his/her own gender and can consent to treatment what is to keep him/her from consenting to sex with a 30-year-old? Love is love. How can a child be wise enough to understand his own gender transition needs[18] but not wise enough to consent in a romantic relationship?  The rebranding of pedophilia to Minor Attracted Persons (or MAP) indicates the movement is already gaining steam.[19]

As Christians we must allow scripture to define our terms. That includes marriage. As Christopher Watkin and Tim Keller explain:

“…language both expresses and forms a world. To use particular language is to live in a particular world. This is also a reason for Christians, wherever practicable, to use biblical language to describe the world. The Bible’s categories of creation, sin, grace, idolatry, and so on are not neutral and interchangeable with other sets of terms; they are particular figures that belong to and provide the rhythm for the Bible’s account of reality.”[20]

We ought to fight for the civil respect of God honoring definitions.[21] If we want our society to thrive, we ought to implore our civil authorities to abide by God’s definitions.  We cannot do as David French did and acquiesce to the gods of pluralist society.[22]

The defense of marriage is the defense of a god-honoring society. It is not the only thing to defend but it is a foundational thing to defend.  We must stand firm.












[11] Ibid., pg. 669









[20] Christopher Watkin and Timothy Keller, “Humanity,” Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2023), 100–101.



Recommended Resources Related to this Topic

Legislating Morality: Is it Wise? Is it Legal? Is it Possible? by Frank Turek (Book, DVD, Mp3, Mp4, PowerPoint download, PowerPoint CD)
Is Morality Absolute or Relative? by Frank Turek (DVD/ Mp3/ Mp4)
Was Jesus Intolerant? (DVD) and (Mp4 Download) by Dr. Frank Turek
Jesus vs. The Culture by Dr. Frank Turek DVD, Mp4 Download, and Mp3
Letters to a Young Progressive by Mike Adams (Book)
Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers (book)


Josh Klein is a Pastor from Omaha, Nebraska with over a decade of ministry experience. He graduated with an MDiv from Sioux Falls Seminary and spends his spare time reading and engaging with current and past theological and cultural issues. He has been married for 12 years to Sharalee Klein and they have three young children.

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