I remember when Webster said marriage was between a man and a woman but like all books there is a revised or newer version today. Here then is the current definition of marriage according to Webster, which points out that this is the “Full Definition”.

Full Definition of MARRIAGE
a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage
b : the mutual relation of married persons : wedlock
c : the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage
: an act of marrying or the rite by which the married status is effected; especially : the wedding ceremony and attendant festivities or formalities
: an intimate or close union <the marriage of painting and poetry — J. T.

Well the explanation, “like that of a traditional marriage ”, helps me understand to some degree the state of confusion in the Methodist church about this marriage issue that for the last 40 years has been the subject of many debates and written word in our church. To be fair the issue for most of those years was homosexuality and only recently has the debate included marriage, same-sex marriage. Now it is coming together for me. Marriage requires two people, a contract by law that is between persons of the opposite sex, or two people of the same sex who chose to be united in a manner like that of a traditional marriage. This relationship then becomes defined as wedlock, an institution whereby the individuals are joined in marriage.

I am trying hard to be rational about this and I believe Webster’s has given me a path to follow. This debate we Methodists are having has been wrongly labeled. This is about a traditional socially approved practice that meets the legal and social norm of our day.

Full Definition of TRADITION
a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)
b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable
: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction
: cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions
: characteristic manner, method, or style

When you look at marriage as defined above it is really not that big a deal….socially speaking. From a faith perspective, living a holy life and obeying God’s law, it is a big deal. Two things and then I will wrap this up.

– Not only did Jesus choose not to marry, he encouraged his disciples to abandon household and domestic concerns in order to follow him (Matthew 19:29; Mark 10:28-30; Luke 9:57-62). He even refers to those “who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:10-13). Whatever that means, it’s certainly not an endorsement of marriage. Paul likewise encourages male believers: “Do not seek a wife” (1 Corinthians 7:27, my translation) — advice Paul took for himself. http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-f018.html

-What Jesus Taught
“And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’“
—Matthew 19:4 (NKJV)
“But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’”
—Mark 10:6 (NKJV)
When Jesus was asked questions about marriage he went straight back to the defining passages in Genesis that say that marriage is between male and female and is meant to be life-long. He saw the Creation accounts in Genesis as authoritative in His day. And what is authoritative for Jesus is authoritative for Christians also. While Jesus did not specifically teach on homosexuality, His establishment of the Genesis passages as the fundamental passages on marriage (even more fundamental than the Law) leaves no doubt as to the outcome. http://www.openbible.info/topics/marriage

To those of us that consider God’s word and law to be a standard of holy living that we as Christians consider to be the calling we have been given it is asking much of us, too much, that we be expected to violate our God’s commandants to us in order to satisfy the ever changing socially acceptable norms. The Methodists in the pews, the ones I sit with welcome all into God’s house and to his table. We will not however condone or support a church or leadership that asks us to accept that which our God has found to be an abomination in his eye. If we must violate our faith to accept your demands, in what way is that of God?