Sexuality and Gender

Why a Same-Sex Couple Could Never Practice Christian Marriage

Author Robby Lashua Published on 01/30/2024

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I’m not inclusive in spite of what Scripture says; I’m inclusive because of what Scripture says.” My wife read me these words from a Facebook post by one of my former seminary professors. This statement was posted with a picture of my former professor performing a wedding for two women.

Pro-gay theology has infiltrated evangelical churches in America, and “inclusion” has been one of the major selling points. Scripture is clear that God loves all people, died for all people, and desires that all people would come to believe in him. In this sense, the Bible is inclusive.

At the same time, the Bible clearly condemns sexual sin, homosexuality being one among many. This point has been exhaustively studied and written about by apologists and theologians. (For further reasons why we know Scripture condemns homosexual behavior, see here.)

Aside from denying and twisting the clear passages of Scripture that prohibit homosexuality, pro-gay theology has another problem: A same-sex couple can’t practice Christian marriage as described in Scripture. Let me explain.

Ephesians 5:22–33, Colossians 3:18–19, Titus 2:4-5, and 1 Peter 3:1–7 are well-known passages describing how marriage is supposed to operate. These passages assume two roles in marriage: a husband and a wife.

Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church, not to be embittered against their wives, to live with their wives in an understanding way, and to show them honor. Additionally, husbands have the daunting responsibility of being the head of the wife (being responsible before God for the marriage), and they run the risk of their prayers being hindered if they aren’t treating their wife in an honorable and understanding way.

Wives are instructed to be submissive/subject to their husbands and to respect them. We are told a submissive wife’s character can win over a husband who is disobedient to the gospel. One of the reasons wives are instructed to be subject to their husbands is so that the gospel won’t be dishonored.

Scripture also instructs married couples on how to have a healthy sex life.

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Cor. 7:3–5)

Basically, the husband’s body belongs to the wife, the wife’s body belongs to the husband, and they should not abstain from frequent sex, except for an agreed upon time to dedicate to prayer.

What fascinates me about all of these passages are the words used for husband and wife. The Greek word ἀνήρ (aner) means man, men, husband. The Greek word γυνή (gyne) means woman, wife, bride.

These words are important because they show that “woman” and “wife” go together, as do “man” and “husband.” Because these roles in marriage are sex/gender specific, a woman can’t be a husband and a man can’t be a wife.

Many same-sex couples know this to be the case, which is why women in a same-sex marriage refer to the other as wife and same-sex male couples call each other husband.

Christians who hold to pro-gay theology have a practical problem. How can same-sex couples obey the biblical commands for marriage? Which partner takes on the role of the husband, and which takes on the role of the wife? How are these roles decided? Are they fluid? Who is the head of the relationship? Whose prayers are hindered by mistreating the other? Who dishonors the word of God by not being submissive?

Trying to live out a biblical marriage while engaged in a same-sex marriage is impossible. It’s like trying to have a biblical relationship with your mistress. The biblical advice for homosexuality and adultery are the same: Don’t engage in them.

My former professor’s statement is wrong. We can’t be inclusive of same-sex marriage precisely because of what the Bible says. Pretending otherwise endorses sin and puts people in the position of pretending they can live out a biblical marriage when they can’t fulfill the roles of a marriage.

The practical advice for marriage in Scripture can only be obeyed if the marriage consists of a man and a woman. Pro-gay theology not only plays fast and loose with the biblical text, but it advocates for a relationship called a marriage that can never practice the instructions of Scripture. Marriage necessitates the roles of husband and wife. Any other combination won’t do.

I don’t stand for truth in spite of what Scripture says; I stand for truth because of what Scripture says.