Sunday, March 9, 2014

What is the definition of marriage?




 Anytime you discuss, debate, argue, or defend anything, you must have presuppositions and a foundation. The foundation and presuppositions for all our discussions should start with the word of God. We certainly can error in our interpretation of God’s word, but the presupposition is that God’s word does not error even if we do. Of course, we all have presuppositions of the origin of God’s word (and the origins of life itself) and whether the Holy Spirit inspired the bible authors. I will stand firm believing the bible points to the supremacy and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and that He created the universe for His purpose and according to His design. (Col 1:15-20)

The definition of marriage is God’s design for His creation for procreation, providing the roles of man and woman, the raising of children to become husbands and wives, and to demonstrate to the world the relationship of Christ and His church all for His glory.  God is One who represents Himself in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God revealed Himself through His creation, His word, and through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Since God created man and woman in His image, they must become a picture of holiness. God’s will for the individual is we shine the image of His Son. Therefore, God designed marriage as a way for us to become holy, as He is holy. A marriage is much like a triangle with a man and a woman vowing before God, each coming to a point of His likeness while coming closer together as one. God alone sets the parameters, terms, and duration of marriage.  
Here are some of the characteristics or attributes of God’s design for marriage. 
  • God created man in His image and though a man and woman are equal in value to Him, God designed them with specific roles for society, family, and church. (Genesis 1:27)
  • God created woman from man to be a helper for man because God desired that a man would not be alone. (Genesis 2:18; 1 Cor 11:9) This demonstrates God’s grace.
  • God designed this union as what we define as marriage. It is a man and a woman in a one-flesh relationship. (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6) Two become one through vows to each other in God’s presence. (Genesis 2:23) The first marriage was one becoming two, and then two becoming one.
  • God designed and blessed man and woman to procreate, have dominion over all the creatures of the earth, and tend to the herbs of the earth as food. (Genesis 1:28)
  • God designed specific roles for husband, wife, and children in order that His perfect design would bring Him glory. (Eph 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:7)
  • This union is a binding covenant that no man may break. (Genesis 2:24; Mal 2:14; Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Cor 7:39; Romans 7:1-3)
  • This holy covenant shows the world the relationship of Christ and His church. This is true love that comes from God. The grace of Christ equals grace in marriage. (Eph 5:31-33)
  • God desires that we be holy as He is holy (Lev 11:45; John 17:11; 1 Peter 1:16), therefore, happiness and self-gratification are never prerequisites of marriage.  

The answer to this question sets the tone for the case that marriage was before sin and before the law. Therefore, it falls under the grace of God and not under the law, or it can be said that marriage is law unto itself and validates the very existence of God. (Romans 7:2,3) God created man in His image and it was good. The covenant of marriage originates in the very first pages of the Bible and the words of the Son of God from the pages of the Gospels validate the union of man and woman into marriage. When the religious leaders sought to challenge the Lord Jesus Christ by asking if man may divorce his wife for any reason He pointed to the beginning. (Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:2-9)What is interesting about these passages is that we not only see that Jesus called marriage a lifetime covenant, His reference to the “beginning” brings the matter of origins to mind.

 In Christian apologetics the question of the age of the universe and the beginning of time are important topics when debating with atheists, other religions, or other skeptics. What many Christian apologists bring to the debate is the life of Christ and His relevance to the ancient texts of the Old Testament. The “beginning” is a key part to not only the origin of the universe it is a big part of the origin of man as well. We find in these passages that Christ not only validates both of these topics, He speaks as if He wrote them. In the first passage of the Gospel of John, we see that in the beginning was the Word.  Thus, we as Christians believe that Jesus is very visible image of God. (Col 1:15,16)

            When the Pharisees ask Him if a man may divorce for any reason His reply is have you not read.
Jesus says … (Matthew 19:4) And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.(Matthew 19:4-6)

The Pharisees knew the book of Genesis and they understood what these words said, therefore the Lord easily refuted their reference to the Law of Moses. (Matthew 19:7,8)  They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

This one-flesh union was something God says was good. He also says what God has joined together let no man separate. This is very important when we discuss that marriage is a permanent lifetime commitment separated only by death.

 This is the most important point of marriage. A man and woman joined in the lifetime commitment of marriage pleases God. What is interesting to note is that anyone entering into marriage regardless of culture knows that it is a lifetime commitment. I understand that some people marry for less than noble reasons but they are without excuse if they believe their marriage vow is not meaningful or acceptable. Some could argue that some marry for monetary reasons and could care less about what God has to say, yet they are without excuse if they think they can mock God.

 Regardless of what a person thinks of marriage, it only matters what God has to say about this union. He created man in His image and created woman to be a suitable helper for man because He said it was not good that man was alone. (Genesis 2:18) This marriage is only valid when He sets the parameters. Therefore, it is extremely important that everyone understands that once you commit to marriage there is no turning back.

 This is very encouraging but it makes very little difference if we say God defines marriage and then ignore this definition when we ask if a man may divorce his wife for any reason. The key to this question is that we understand that God is in charge. Once we understand that marriage is by God’s design and permanent until the death of either spouse, we have a presupposition argument for understanding why people choose to divorce, remarry, and join in same-sex unions.

In Christ’s love,
Neil

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