In one of the most touching moments of perhaps my favorite musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye — right on the heels of the thuggish attack on the Jews of his village compounded by the turmoil of his daughter’s engagement — famously asks an incredulous Goldie, his wife of 25 years, “Do you love me?” In an incredibly poignant scene, he coaxes her bit by bit from her mood of preoccupied practicality into one of tender sentiment made all the more glorious by virtue of being blended with self-revelation and relieved by gentle, good-natured humor.
For over 40 years, audiences have rooted for Tevye as he prods Goldie for the declaration his heart yearns for. It is an age-old question that lovers, even those married most of their lives, ask of each other: “Do you love me,” or “Do you still love me?” And not just “do you,” but “Why do you love me?” Why indeed?
The audience identifies with Tevye’s quest because it is an inherent part of us all — and they cheer for his success and Goldie’s.
Some things are simply inherent.
Scripture tells us that after God created all things, He did not merely look at the products of His efforts from a great distance and pronounce them to be good, but He sought the company of the human couple He had created.
Contrary to the stern, aloof, harsh, and dictatorial image that many unbelievers hold of the God of Scripture, Biblical scholar Dennis Kinlaw tells us, “The reality is that the God of Scripture seems to like us” — not just love us in some remote, theoretical, abstract fashion, but “like us” in the manner of an affectionate father or lover.
Over and over in Scripture we find the relationship of God to His people being likened to that of marriage.
Thus in marriage we experience first-hand the sort of intimate, affectionate relationship that God desires to have with us; this — along with the fact that the conjugal relationship is the means by which humans share in the awesome enterprise of creating new life — is what stamps marriage as being sacred.
Marriage is far more than just a social arrangement that evolved to maintain social harmony by preventing males from fighting over females, more than just a romantic notion conjured up in the fevered minds of star-crossed lovers. To believers, to those who look beyond the mere facts of our material existence to the transcendent and immortal, marriage is sacred. We look at the demand for fidelity in marriage as evidence that the Creator put within our nature an inherent design for marriage as an exclusive intimate bond between a man and a woman that enables them to bring forth and nurture new life. And, beyond that, marriage points the way to God’s design for bonds of sacred intimacy in a covenantal relationship with Him, a relationship of faithfulness — despite our inconstancy — which He illustrates for us in the life of His prophet Hosea and Gomer, Hosea’s adulterous wife.
For these reasons, believers oppose expanding the definition and purpose of marriage beyond the traditional one; our resistance to homosexual “marriage” is not, as the liberal secularist supposes, because of mean-spirited homophobia. Those who view marriage as merely a social institution that can be amended at will, like any other provision of contract law, put forth the view that divorce in heterosexual marriage has destroyed all claim that heterosexuals hold marriage to be a sacred bond that should not be redefined. Their claim — that we have not treated marriage with the reverence we claim it deserves — may have strong appeal but it is fundamentally flawed.
Why? Bear with me.
The sacredness of marriage lies not in ourselves or how we have treated marriage; it lies in the fact that marriage is part of the design of the transcendent Creator of all things. But the secularists retort, “Scientists have looked through their telescopes and microscopes and find no evidence of this Divine Creator.” Correction. Some in this generation of scientists may find no evidence, but generations of their equally brilliant predecessors — scientists as renowned as Sir Isaac Newton — agreed wholeheartedly with what the Psalmist saw with his naked eye: “The heavens declare the glory of God. And the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”
In this election year of resurgent in-your-face radicalism that echoes the 1960s, it seems almost too much to hope that Californians will rise to the occasion and repudiate the immoral Hollywood culture which is so integral to the California image and lifestyle. If California voters embrace same-sex “marriage,” history will record that vote as another step toward the paganization of America. As in so many areas, as California goes, so goes the nation. So, we watch and pray that the citizens of the Golden State will choose wisely and preserve marriage.