A few years ago, I had the opportunity to explain the biblical view of marriage to an unbelieving friend – a view according to which love doesn’t only rely on feelings but on a decision to love each other exclusively and unconditionally. I’ll never forget her reaction: ”What you believe is so backward! If a husband or a wife falls out of love and meets someone else, he or she can’t just stay in the relationship and be unhappy forever.” After all, my friend could have argued, people’s lifestyles evolve but Christians don’t – they stick to what they believe instead of adapting the evolution of society.
I wonder what you’d have responded to my friend. In hindsight, this is what I could have said: ”The day when your husband tells you that he fell out of love and leaves you for another woman he met – what actually happened to my mum – I wonder if you’ll still think that what I believe is backward.” I hope that the reality of such a terrible situation would have helped my friend to understand the inconsistency of her own beliefs – what should be accepted in someone else’s life suddenly becomes unacceptable in our own life. But I also hope that my friend would have understood the cultural subjectivity of such a typical western and post-modern value judgment – ”Christians are so backward” according to whom and compared to what? Had my friend been born in France in the Middle Ages or in Africa 50 years ago, her view on marriage and many other issues would have probably been very different.
So the question is: who decides what is backward or advanced, bad or good? If there’s no God, there’s no objective and absolute moral ground to decide anything – who says that a husband can’t leave his wife for another woman? But if there’s a God who set the rules, whose beliefs are actually ”backward”? Shouldn’t our unbelieving friends be the ones evolving and adapting the moral will of their creator who loves them and wants their good? The best way to show them God’s goodness is to point them to Christ, whose attitude was revolutionary when he decided to go forward – and not backward – for us, and accepted to be crucified for foolish people like us.