We at MinistryPlace.net are blessed to share a few special guest posts from David Nehring, PhD!
David Nehring, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist at Bethesda Christian Counseling in Sioux Falls. He has been working in the mental health field both in Christian and in secular organizations for over 25 years, currently working in rural private practice. He has been married for 28 years and is the homeschooling father of five children. You can find out more at www.bethesdachristiancounseling.org.
Ever thought about calling your dog by the name “Cat” or calling your pet cat “Dog?”
Were your great great-grandparents to read accounts of current debates they would have similar reactions.
Now, many people have claimed that using the term “marriage” to describe whatever civil relationships are currently in vogue is destroying the institution of marriage. Not really. What it is doing is rendering a whole lot of people incompetent to discuss and understand what authentic marriage is. The result is fewer authentic marriages, but not their extinction.
Confusion in the terms does not change the realities to which those terms are initially applied. Calling civil unions “marriage” does not make them authentic marriages. The reason why is really very simple: If one chooses to call both dogs and cats “dogs,” one does not do a thing to the dogs and the cats – only create problems for vets and pet food makers. If people are bent on classifying them identically that is up to them, but they become less effective in life. We as biblically informed Christians elect to continue drawing the real distinction between two unlike things because we observe God and nature doing the same. But you can call your pet whatever you want.
As we continue to be more and more a distinctive people of God, we will, per force, have our own language. Now, this is not intended to create a noble “us” versus an ignoble “them.” But God does call us to be a distinctive people and that means some distinctions in language and culture. This means we, as Christians, will not be using language in the same way as secular society. That’s just the way it is. We will continue drawing distinctions between dogs and cats and between authentic marriage (the God given relationship) and civil unions (the legal and governmental entities on par with corporations).
We do lose the convenience of treating our faith based covenants of marriage as identical to legal unions defined in civil statutes. We absolutely must start drawing an important distinction here from now on. A marriage license does not make people truly married; covenants before God and congregations do. This parting of the ways is a bit sad, but true. Governments and civil institutions are no longer capable of drawing the important distinctions necessary to support marriage covenants and the families they produce. So we go on – with or without them.
Next time let’s talk about what this might involve.