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Many of us have heard of the “boiling frog” anecdote. The idea is this: put a frog in blistering hot water and it will instinctively jump out. However, place it in cool water with gradual temperature increases and the frog will remain in its place, absolutely unaware of the danger until it’s too late.

This metaphor illustrates people’s general tendency to challenge abrupt change while nonchalantly adjusting to slow moving drifts. In some ways, the image brings to mind the Black Church and its reaction to the cultural redefinition of marriage.

The Black Church and Marriage

The rising normalization of homosexuality and the ever-increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage has brought a sudden fire, and the Black Church knows enough to jump. Members of the Black Church have clearly expressed resistance to the gay marriage movement. For example, just last month, the Christian Post reported that the National Black Church Initiative—a group comprised of some 34,000 churches from 15 denominations—was breaking ties with the Presbyterian Church USA after its amended definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people.”

Such reports paint the picture of a church absolutely convinced of the Lord’s words in Matthew 19:4–5: “He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” While others shift to the “right-side of history,” the Black Church seems planted on the side of Scripture.

Contending For the Faith

And indeed, any church-claiming, historic orthodox Christianity can do no other. Whether the issue is marriage or a different topic, Christians are called to contend for the faith once for all given to the saints (Jude 1:3). We must agree with the Word of God.

Knowing this, I’m praying for a black church that upholds biblical marriage—not chiefly to the culture—but mainly to the saints. Because our definition of marriage is based on Scripture, we must abhor the widespread divorce, fornication, and even abortion in our own pews. Our love for the Scriptures must fuel a passion for God-glorying marriages in our own spaces.

In truth, a gradual “redefinition” of biblical marriage began way before the same-sex movement of our day. Biblical marriage was dishonored when easy divorces, co-habitation, and single parenting became our norm. The water is boiling today; but surely the temperature has been rising around us for a long time with little movement on our part.

Reaffirming Marriage

I write of course, knowing that there are black churches preaching, teaching, encouraging and supporting God-honoring marriages. My own traditional black church in southeast Washington, D.C. holds a quinquennial marriage renewal service for couples married twenty-five years and more. It’s always edifying (and simply beautiful) to watch these seasoned saints reaffirm their marriage covenants.

Let the church be filled with such scenes. Let these older women train the younger women to love their husbands and their children (Titus 2:4). In the same way, let sober-minded and dignified older men disciple younger brothers toward marriage and faith (Titus 2:2). Let the Gospel rule our hearts and our churches until we are known centrally for our love of the Scriptures and its requirement for all marriages, including our own.

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