Why Legal Restrictions on the Institution of Marriage Serve as a Means of Grace

Today’s society increasingly sees any legal restrictions on one’s entrance into marriage or any legal limits placed on the particular expression of marriage that one may choose for themself to be a positive harm and resolutely unjust. Recent years have seen the legalization of homosexual marriage, television shows advocating polygamy, and news stories highlighting beastiality or a human entering into a “marital” relationship with an inanimate object. Though some of these expressions may still seem taboo in today’s world, the redefinition of marriage that was initiated with Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) will inevitably lead to the cultural acceptance of other deviant sexual and marital behaviors.
This paper seeks to advance the idea that particular legal restrictions on the institution of marriage that are given in biblical law continue to hold authority in today’s culture. Further, these restrictions—just as it is with the rest of the biblical law—do not exist as a negative restriction on freedom in its true sense, but actually exist as a means of common grace for civilization by promoting the true meaning of freedom itself. Through the confines of law properly understood, civilization experiences God’s common grace and achieves positive good by ensuring the security of primary and secondary goods that flow from human experience. These goods are only fully secured through the proper use of a biblical marital framework and are significantly undermined when modern legal codes seek to stray from the bounds of biblical law on the subject. Through interaction with authors such as Ronald Nash, John Finnis, Alfonso Gómez-Lobo, and others, this paper seeks to support a return to the biblical framework of marriage not just on the grounds of God’s will—though that is of the utmost importance—but also on the grounds of natural law and proper reason as something that can be supported and accepted by all members of a pluralistic society.

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