Who would deny that the three institutions that God created—the family, the church, and the state—are under direct attack by our secular culture? Perhaps they have always been under attack, but the world’s antagonism toward these institutions seems more heated than ever. That is particularly the case regarding the God-given institution of the family. What is particularly saddening is the fact that some Christian denominations have collapsed under the weight of secular pressure to redefine what the family is, what marriage is, who it is between, etc. Departure from biblical language in favor of secular redefinitions is a disturbing example of how far many have drifted. As the culture drifts away from truth, opposition against the church and those who stand for truth seems to be increasing.
Attacks on the church are nothing new. In the last century, many Marxists saw the family as one of the major flaws of human civilization. The family was viewed as a source of oppression and societal dysfunction. Marxism proposed an alternative: the state would supplant the family, and the government would be in charge of teaching kids, not parents. There were many reasons that Marxism failed to bring about the secular utopia for which it had hoped. Humanity’s attempt to define and rule the world apart from God has always ended badly. Marxism’s ideological child, the organization known as Black Lives Matter, has had a similar disdain for the traditional understanding of the family. BLM’s advocacy of the LGBTQ and related movements has cultivated a context of redefinition in which a biblical view of marriage is now seen as oppressive.
While these external attacks are sobering, they are arguably not the biggest threat to the church and its understanding of the family. J. Gresham Machen argued in the 1930s that the most significant threat to the church was not swords and clubs (the world’s attacking us) but rather the possibility of slowly growing more comfortable and at peace with the world around us. Machen’s concern was that compromise from within would prove to be a serious poison, slowly infiltrating the church and causing it to drift from biblical faithfulness. The idols of comfort and ease are never far from us, and their siren songs always promise much yet deliver little. When the church succumbs to worldly redefinitions of marriage or willingly sacrifices faithfulness on the altar of social acceptance, we are in a dangerous place.