In his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
As a constitutional lawyer and Christian activist, I am well aware that the attack on marriage — between one man and one woman, open to life, intended for life and formative of family — is being waged in the courts, the Congress and the culture. But that’s not the full story.
Our cultural battles over marriage and the family are presenting symptoms of something deeper and more sinister. The struggle we face is, at root, a spiritual one. We fight for the souls of men and women in this hour and the loving plan of God for the whole human race. We face fierce opposition from the devil. Yes, I said it, the devil.
The Devil Hates Marriage
A lot of people consider talk about the devil unseemly. Pope Francis doesn’t agree. He reminds the faithful that the devil is our enemy. Here are two examples from 2013:
The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.
The Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Jesus Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present!
In a sermon last June, he preached that Satan has his sites set on marriage and the family: “[The Devil] attacks the family. … That demon does not love it — and seeks to destroy it. May the Lord bless the family. … May He make it strong in this crisis in which the devil wishes to destroy it.”
The devil hates marriage and the family because the devil hates God and is in rebellion against His loving plan for the human race. From the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, we discover a loving plan. In the context of his first gift of creation, God fashioned us in His image. In the second chapter of Genesis we read, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The two, male and female, coming together in marriage, reveal the image of God. The conjugal embrace unites the spouses and opens to new life, broadening the circle of love with children. The loving plan of God is unveiled in the family.
Marriage is not unique to Christianity, of course, but is revealed by the Natural Moral Law for all humanity. No culture that denies this can hope to flourish.
Our Sexual Differentiation is a Gift
Our sexual difference as male and female is a given. We do not choose to be male or female. We receive it. The notion that we can choose our sex, or abandon the distinction altogether, is one more manifestation of the rebellion that started with Adam and Eve.
When our first parents succumbed to the lie that they could determine good and evil, the separation began. That sin affected our relationship with God, with one another and with creation itself. Only a Savior could bridge that separation.
And in His defense of marriage, Jesus referred back to that Genesis account: “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and … the two shall become one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:5-9; cf. Mt 19:4-9; Lk 16:18). To strike at marriage is to strike at God’s design built into creation from the very beginning.
The Mystery of Marriage
Though marriage is known to all cultures, in Scripture, it takes on greater meaning. We learn that God is self-giving love and that informs our understanding of marriage. We learn to give as integrated human persons, body, soul and spirit, through marriage. It is no accident that the imagery of marriage is used throughout the entire Old Testament as a metaphor for God’s love for Israel (Hosea 2: 19,20).
In Jesus Christ, marriage is elevated to a mystery that reveals Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church (Eph 5:32). And this mystery casts light back on “ordinary” marriage between man and woman. From antiquity the Christian family has been called the domestic church. The Christian family is the smallest cell of the Body of Christ. It is in the domestic church of the family where progress in Christian maturity takes place. It is a seedbed of holiness for the spouses, teaching them the path of selfless love.
So of course, the one who hates Christ and His Church, hates marriage and family. It is for this reason that Paul, after instructions about the relationships of marriage and family (Ephesians 5), gives his admonition about spiritual warfare (Eph. 6).
Principalities and Powers
The Apostle Paul instructed the Christians in Ephesus to “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:12, 13). He told the Christians in Corinth, “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4,5). And in his letter to the Christians in Rome he describes in gory detail what happens when people reject God’s plan for family and sexuality (Romans 1).
There is nothing new or fresh about this hour’s assault on marriage. It is simply old school paganism dressed up in sophistry. But it never has the last word. The truth about marriage transformed the cultures into which the early Church was sent, and it can do so again.
Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16:18). The demons have tried for over two millennia, but they have failed. The evil one has set his scopes on the first cell of the Church, the Christian family. Is it any wonder that the enemy of the Lord’s loving plan for the whole human race, the Church, would seek to destroy the Church by attacking its smallest cell?
The greatest weapon we have is not our argumentation and apologetics, as vital as they both are. Rather, it is to recognize that the attack is from the gates of hell and to wield the spiritual weapons the Lord has given us.
While we contend in the public square, we must remember that we do not struggle merely against flesh and blood. The assault on marriage is diabolical. But, as Jesus promised, the gates of hell will not prevail.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.