Questions and Answers About Marriage, Part 3

Title: Questions and Answers About Marriage, Part 3

Text: Matthew 19:4-6, Luke 2:4-7, Genesis 24:1-4

Time: May 29th, 2013

It seems that as we open the newspapers or watch TV news or listen to news on the radio while we drive our cars everything we notice appears to be going against traditional, biblical Christian marriage. Just in the news today France witnessed its first “same sex” or gay marriage. What is happening to the world today? What’s changed in just the last couple of years that has moved people from basically affirming the standard definition of marriage to an openness to different definitions of marriage. We understand when the fashion tastes change from year to year because that’s expected, because after all, it’s superficial fashion. But for something as important and essential to morality and society as marriage to change like fashions change is alarming. We know from the Bible that marriage between a man and a woman is both a divine and human institution. It’s human because it involves two human beings, a man and a woman. But it’s also divine because it was directed to humans by God himself in the very beginning – that’s what the Book of Genesis says, that’s what God’s chosen people the Jews have always taught, and that’s what God’s new chosen people Christians teach. But what is happening in society today is that more and more people are dropping the divine from the divine/human equation for marriage – and just considering the human aspects of it. And that’s so easy to do, because after all, it takes seeing marriage through the eyes of faith to appreciate the divine aspects of holy matrimony. I guess fewer and fewer people are willing to see marriage from the eyes of faith, and consequently all they’ve got left is the human perspective. If marriage is only a human institution, then in all honesty, what’s to stop us from redefining it any way we want? I think the only thing on a purely human level that might make us back up a bit in tinkering with marriage is that it’s something that’s been a part of human civilization for thousands and thousands of years, and it’s always been between men and women, nothing more. That alone, that sociological fact, should cause us to hit the pause button and not make any hasty decisions or changes in respect to social policy regarding marriage. But unfortunately modern politics and opinion isn’t taking this cautious approach. It seems that the new novel thing today in progressive society is to be the first in everything – the first openly gay this or that, the first same sex marriage in France, the first trans-gendered politician, and so forth. With that “first of a kind” thinking, it’s no wonder why caution is thrown to the wind, and recklessness prevails today. But as Christians, as Bible-believers, we must make effort to slow things down and bring God’s wisdom to bear on society. I’m in a series on marriage, raising questions and answering them from God’s Word. Let’s continue today by raising three more questions about marriage.

First, aren’t we free to define marriage any way we like? Matthew 19:4, “’Haven’t you read,’ he (Jesus) replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.’” Gay activists like to use the argument that Jesus doesn’t spend any time talking about homosexuality; therefore, it must not have been important to him. They make this argument because they want to say that Jesus had no objection to it, so neither should anyone today. Of course, their argument is rubbish, because Jesus didn’t talk about a lot of other things, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. For example, Jesus didn’t talk directly about pedophilia, but this is an important subject, with proper laws against it and punishment given to any offenders. So the argument that says if Jesus doesn’t address a specific subject, that he wasn’t concerned about it, doesn’t hold weight. But let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that we grant them their point. Ok, in respect to marriage, Jesus does speak about it, and he does define it as between a man and a woman. “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female – and for this reason a man will leave father and mother and be united (married) to his wife.” What could be clearer? Jesus leaves no room for changing the definition of marriage to include any other arrangement. So in answer to the question, “Aren’t we free to define marriage any way we like?” the answer is, “No.” Now some things God does leave for man to decide. Back in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible, it says that God gave man dominion over the earth to rule it in his stead, Genesis 1:28. For example, we are free to form governments in whatever fashion suits us in society. Yes, there are broad and general principles found in the Bible that can help us organize ourselves in society, but there is no divine blueprint for a specific form of government. In the United States and most western nations, we favor democracy; but God doesn’t command “popular sovereignty” as the only form of government. A nation could choose a kingdom with a king or queen ruling – and that would be acceptable to God as far as the Bible is concerned. But with marriage, we are not free to change the pattern established by God, as Jesus quoted “at the beginning.” That’s why as our nation and other nations of the world change the standard definition of marriage to include so-called “gay marriage,” they violate the will of God. There will come a day of reckoning for tampering with God’s divine institution of marriage. Mankind is overstepping its bounds by tampering with God’s will for marriage.

Second, if cohabitation is morally wrong why then did Jesus’ parents Mary and Joseph cohabit before Jesus was born? Luke 2:4-7, “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” I suppose one could point to the New Testament account of the birth of Jesus as evidence for cohabitation in the Bible. No doubt Mary and Joseph were not officially married, yet they traveled and lodged together while registering for the census in Bethlehem. Isn’t this justification for cohabitation – that is, living together before marriage? If Mary and Joseph could do it, then surely people today are within their moral bounds doing it also. That’s the logic that might possibly come from the current generation in respect to living together apart from marriage. Well, what about Mary and Joseph? Did they violate the biblical teaching concerning marriage? No, definitely not. Here’s why. Mary and Joseph were, what the Jewish tradition calls, “betrothed.” That means they were officially pledged to one another in a bond that was nearly, or for all intents and purpose was, as binding as marriage itself. It was simply a custom of Jewish society back then to enter into a first stage of marriage called betrothal. It was as serious as marriage. It was not the equivalent of today’s engagement. It was much more serious than engagement. If you remember, once it was made known that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit with the baby Jesus, she faced the very real possibility of stoning for reasons of adultery – that was what her death would have been classified if Joseph had pressed charges. Of course, we know the rest of the account, so we know that Joseph didn’t bring his betrothed to the courts, but rather was convinced by an angel that indeed Mary’s child was of divine origin. But the fact that she was at risk for adultery shows that betrothal carried nearly the same legal status as marriage itself. So for all intents and purposes Mary and Joseph were married when they set off for Bethlehem, because betrothal was the first stage of the marriage covenant, so they were within morally acceptable bounds. Mary and Joseph’s relationship cannot be used to justify cohabitation. Living together before marriage is a sin, and is totally unacceptable according to Christian morality.

Third, if we strictly follow the Bible, then shouldn’t parents be choosing marriage partners for their children? Genesis 24:1-4, “Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.’” Here’s an example of the father choosing a wife for his son, and not just the father doing the picking but appointing his chief servant to do it! It’s well known that most marriages in ancient times were arranged by the parents; and particularly the father made the final decision. Here’s an example of this typical ancient custom. Now today, it’s the very opposite; most marriage are not arranged or selected by parents, but instead by the individuals themselves. That’s our modern custom. Now the truth is, the Bible doesn’t always describe marriages as arranged by the parents. It also gives examples of marriages formed by the individuals themselves. For example, Isaac’s son Jacob makes his own arrangement to marry Rachel; it wasn’t arranged by his parents or Rachel’s parents, Genesis 29:18. So there is no single way for a marriage to come about. Granted, many or even perhaps most of the marriages described in the Bible come about because of parental influence but that doesn’t mean it’s a divine command. The fact is God doesn’t give a command or law that parents must select spouses for their children; it’s a custom, just like it’s custom today for parents not to select spouses for their children. In other words, God has left the question open to people how to choose a spouse. Now today we’ve gone so far in the opposite direction – in directly choosing spouses as individuals – that we might take a little advice from the ancients and involve parents more. What with the high rate of divorce, it only makes sense to involve family more than is common today. Obviously, something is wrong with the way people choose spouses today; perhaps we are neglecting a long-standing tradition at our peril. Maybe we need to move a little bit in the ancient traditional direction, while not going back the whole way. God is wise in what he commands and what he does not command in the Bible. It’s a perfect balance of freedom and form. God gives us enough form to hold things together if we follow his directions, yet he also gives us enough freedom to not stifle our spirit. We should listen to his wisdom today, especially in the area of marriage and family.

With all the problems we see in society today concerning marriage and family we need to ask ourselves, “Have we gone to far away from the will of God?” And the answer is clearly, “Yes.” Society in general, and also, sadly, Christians as well, have departed greatly from the will of God in respect to marriage and family. We are seeing the sad results today. I wish I could report that we are beginning to see a move back towards God’s will for marriage today, but I cannot. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Society is moving further and further away from the standard of God for marriage. Now with so-called gay marriage, it’s almost to the point where marriage is unrecognizable as anything given by God. And our wicked and sinful society seems to celebrate this move away from holy matrimony! People actually call what is happening progress! But it’s hard to imagine by what standard they are measuring the so-called progress. If we look back to the Bible, not even the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had anything like same-sex marriage. Even they weren’t that far apart from God’s will for marriage. But here we are in our so-called “enlightened” age with something so radical that not even the ancients could have come up with anything so perverse. What will it take for society to swing back around to a more sane and sensible view of marriage? Perhaps a disaster of some sort – a natural or supernatural act of God. Something needs to occur because the path we are going down as a society is unsustainable. No civilization in all of world history has ever dismantled such a basic social and moral foundation as marriage. I fully expect some form of judgment to come from the hand of God soon. But in the meantime, what can we do as Christians in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation? We can continue to bear witness to the truth of God’s Word and stand strong for traditional marriage. We can’t turn to government because it has already collapsed on this issue. We can’t turn to education because it’s already given in to the redefinition of marriage. We can’t expect the business community to defend traditional marriage because by the looks of things it too has sold out to the pressures of gay activists. The Christian church is about the only institution left in society to hold the line on marriage – and it too is shaky on the issue in many respects! Most pastors won’t defend traditional marriage publicly, and even many churches and denominations are joining in the push for gay marriage. So the only people left to defend God’s will for marriage are conservative, Bible-believing Christians. Well, if we’re the only ones, let’s do a good job of doing so! Let’s join together and do the right thing and stand our ground for God’s truth. We’re basically the only ones left to do so. Let’s pray.


One Response to “Questions and Answers About Marriage, Part 3”

  1. Questions and Answers About Marriage, Part 3 | Says:

    […] Recommended Article FROM […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: