Category: Creation, Word: MARRIAGE
August 24, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
“Haven’t you read,” He [Jesus] replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female, and He also said: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
DEFINITION: Marriage, a God-given institution, is a legally recognized relationship, made formal by a civil or religious ceremony, between one man and one woman, who commit to live together in maintaining a home, to share sexual intimacy, and (usually) to bear and rear children.
Marriage is the most pervasive of institutions, found in every culture known to humanity. Bible students have often noted that this is the only human institution ordained by God before mankind’s fall into sin. One man and one woman for life—as in the case of Adam and Eve—is clearly the standard. The Bible provides numerous examples of marriages that failed to meet the divine ideal stated in Genesis 1. Polygamy and no-fault or easy divorce are sad illustrations. The seventh of the Ten Commandments, “do not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14), shows the great value God places on the sanctity of marriage. Although a number of Old Testament characters practiced polygamy, the New Testament reaffirms the original ideal, for example in the lists qualifications for leaders in Christian congregations (1 Tim 3:2-12).
Recent decades have witnessed an explosion of couples publicly cohabitating without the benefit or intention of marrying. This used to be called “living in sin,” and it is still an apt description for those who treat sexual intimacy casually and who flaunt the divine standard. Similarly, but even more recently, same-sex couples have become much more public about their domestic situation. Some civil jurisdictions have legalized marriages between such persons, but those who read the Bible seriously would have to agree that the only explicit scriptural references to marriage are heterosexual. Further, there is no biblical passage that speaks favorably about homosexual activity. (See Rom 1:26-27 for the most extensive New Testament treatment of the topic.)
Jesus’ teaching that we must not separate what God has joined must be taken with all seriousness among Christian marriage partners. Recent surveys show that the divorce rate among North American Christians is virtually identical to society in general. This is cause for great sorrow and alarm, for at least two reasons. First, it shows that the biblical teaching on the permanence of marriage has not been adequately taught (and grasped) within congregational life. Second, this makes it difficult to maintain Paul’s teaching that marriage illustrates Christ’s unconditional and permanent love for His church, His bride (Eph 5:25-33). This same passage shows that the proper role of a Christian husband is to love his wife sacrificially, to respect her, and to lead the home. The role of a Christian wife is to respond to her husband’s love in joyful cooperation, to respect him, and to preserve the home.
REFLECTION: Why is it important to recognized marriage as a God-given institution? What difference does a marriage ceremony make, after all? Why do you think it is so difficult to use the language “living in sin” to describe cohabiting couples?
PRAYER: Lord Christ, one reason marriage was made was to picture Your relationship to Your Church. Yours was the plan that made a man and a woman to live together. May I live in such a way that I honor Your divine intentions for marriage. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.