Marriage for all?

von Johannes Justus


The law for concerning “marriage for all” has now taken its last formal hurdle by being published in the German Federal Law Gazette[1]. It will come into effect on October 1st 2017. The legislation adds a new paragraph to section 1353 of the German Civil Code that will state: “marriage is entered into by two people of a different or the same sex for life.” The following nine words give a new meaning to the concept of marriage after the law comes into effect: “two people of a different or the same sex


Which changes are coming?

There are two things which are, in my view, essential to the change. Through the reinterpretation of the term „marriage“, a new view on the concept of marriage was created by using the tool of „Language“. The second major change is the possibility of adopting children, which was previously impossible for registered life partners.


Why does the change occur?

In the corresponding draft law of the Federal Council[2] (Bundesrat), the following is stated: “In the face of social change and the associated change in the understanding of marriage, there are no long-term reasons to treat homosexual and heterosexual couples differently and hold on to homosexuality as an impediment to marriage”.


Impact on churches and religious communities

“The rights of the churches and religious communities remain unaffected by this new statutory regulation.[3] Thus the further wording of the above-mentioned draft law. Therefore, the law amendment does not have any legal consequences for churches and religious communities. However, through this step the public and the christian concept of marriage drift more and more apart.




Change of my values ​​and principles

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever”

1 John 2, 17

Let us start with the justification already given for the necessity of a change of law. Because of the social change, the understanding of marriage also changed. This is precisely where our reaction and the associated classification of the events begins. We all have values ​​according to which we arrange our lifes and evaluate the events around us. It is indisputable that we are all affected by the change in our personal beliefs. That which was so essential for me yesterday can already appear in a new light today. My world view is characterized, for example by my generation, the society, my origin, my family and therefore I see the world through these glasses. In this regard Elvis Presley is assigned the following quote: “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ’em all over everything you do.” On the other hand, I make new experiences and pass through special living conditions. Both how my past shaped me and my progressive life experience influence my values ​​and principles. That is why I wonder whether I can translate the statement, known to many of us, “Nothing is as permanent as change” to my values ​​and principles.


Consistancy of values ​​and principles

Inevitably, with the thoughts just expressed, we come to the question: “Are there constant values ​​and principles that are not exposed to the change of time and the resulting change in society? Is there a fixed constant, according to which we can align our principles?” To anticipate the answer: Yes, there is! These principles – including the principles of marriage – are anchored in the Word of God (cf Isa 40: 8). And this brings us to the focal point of our discussion. Every value and every principle has a core on which they are based. There is a source to which these values originate. That is why the knowledge about the origin of my principles is of fundamental importance.


Article of faith: The Creation Story

The change of values ​​and principles finds its origin in the theory of evolution. This means that man is constantly evolving, just as he has developed into a human being. For this reason, there can be no fixed, timeless principles for him. Consequently, the scale of values of people who live according to this principle must be flexible. However, if I believe in a creator god who has created man as a man and a woman with a certain goal, this inevitably leads me to the search for that goal and the principles connected with it. In the creation of man, God has a special value in marriage. The mission associated with this value calls on people to protect existing life as well as to welcome new life. In this way, God also introduces his image into man by bringing him into the process of creation, in which a new life arises through the union of man and woman.


Constitution of marriage already at creation

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” 

Genesis 2: 24

Already in the creation of man, God shows the way to marriage. Marriage is thus constituted by the fact that a man and a woman leave their parents, and therefore the former family, and form a legal, lasting connection, expressing this, among other things, through their sexual community.


Confirmation of the original marriage understanding by Jesus and Paul

In a dialogue with the Pharisees, Jesus confirms the initial understanding of marriage by mentioning the just quoted text from Genesis 2 (Matthew 19: 1-12). In this way, Jesus refers to the original order of God, which still applies to him in spite of the intermittent changes, for example, by the divorce letter. In the fifth chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul goes a step further, and interprets the understanding of marriage to the relationship between Christ and the church, and also, like Jesus refers to Genesis 2: 24. This clearly recognizable red thread stretches as a guideline from the beginning to the end of the Bible, and in this way provides us with an important basis for the understanding of marriage.


With the bible in hand

Starting from the above-mentioned principle of faith (creation story vs. evolution theory), I can look for posts in the Bible and shape them so that they confirm my opinion. This approach is nothing new. From personal experience I can report how an ideology proclaimed its values ​​and standpoints with the Bible in hand as Divine Order. Thus communist thinking liked to refer to Acts 2, 44 and 4, 23, in order to assign the common possession of goods to the biblical value system. As a result, communism was often attested to a biblical origin. However, if one goes a step further, it quickly becomes clear that communism does not represent principles of the Bible, but places people and their ideology in the center. I observe the same when I see the attempts to justify the “marriage for all” with biblical (partial) statements. A prominent example of this is 1 John 4: 7-8: “… for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God … because God is love.” So when two people lovee ach other, regardless of their gender, then it must come from God, because finally God is love. And already, we have, in the sense of a mathematical equation, turned the positions and come from “God is love” to “Love is God”. Jesus, on the other hand, says, “If you love me, keep my commands“ (John 14:15).


We are called to be light

How should we react to the changing environment? With his word, God gives us a firm and clear orientation. Out of my understanding of the order of creation, I can not support the shifting of values that takes place. Nor do I have to be a prophet to assert that this was not the last development in this direction. Our task is to respect people and treat them with love. For us, however, this does not mean that we are adapting to society, but that we dedicate ourselves to our mission.  Let us be clear: I am not talking about a retreat from society, but about a brave appearance in the area of influence given to me by God. Here too, instead of becoming judges and critics, we should be a light and an example. Since we are called to be light, let us not place this light under a bucket, but come out from underneath the bucket (Matthew 5, 15).


Make new rather than reshape

When we bring Jesus’ work of salvation to the people, their lives are being made new. Therefore, our task is neither the struggle against value systems, nor the confirmation of these, but the personal presentation of the biblical value system. The preaching of the gospel, whether by word or deed, calls on people not only to surrender their old lives, but to let their old lives go. It is not a matter of changing the old life, but of receiving a new life – a life according to the principles of the Word of God. In this way, people are invited to not read the Bible through the glasses of society. And this is true not only for “marriage for all”.

[1] Federal Law Gazette No. 2017 Part I No. 52, issued to Bonn on 28 July 2017

[2] Law draft of the Federal Council (Bundesrat), printed matter 18/6665 from 11.11.2015, A

[3] Law draft of the Federal Council (Bundesrat), printed matter 18/6665 from 11.11.2015, B

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