Saturday, October 24, 2015

What Is The Law Of Marriage As It Pertains To Me?

Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

You hear it from the evangelical pastor, “Marriage as a lifetime covenant was God’s intention, but sometimes there are “valid” circumstances to divorce.” You hear it from remarried couples, “I had “valid” reasons to divorce and God blesses my remarriage.” You hear it from divorce lawyers. “The laws of the land provide unilateral divorce if one spouse seeks to “validate” a reason to terminate the marriage.” These all sound like really good excuses, but are they true? If marriage was meant to be a lifetime commitment and not a contract, what are the consequences of us believing marriage is anything other than a one-flesh covenant vow that can only end in death?

I have considered every angle as to why people seek to convince me that a one-flesh marriage between one man and one woman is anything other than a lifetime commitment that can only end in the death of either spouse. I have written nearly over 90 blog posts on the permanence of marriage covering every angle to defend the marriage as a covenant no man may break.

Sure, I have pondered if preaching marriage permanence is legalistic, and that telling someone that they are in an adulterous marriage is not loving and Christ-like. Yet, each time I view marriage from God’s perspective, I am totally convinced that marriage is not ours as His creation to define. I have considered and counted the cost and would be willing to lay my life on marriage being for life. I hold marriage to the same standard as the Gospel.  Would it be Christ-like and loving to share the Gospel to the unrepentant sinner?

If I am correct in believing that marriage is permanent, then it begs to ask the question: Why would God make marriage permanent? People really do want to know the truth, and wanting to know the truth about marriage is no different then wanting to know the truth about ones eternal destination. 

There is no question that recent events have pushed the definition of marriage in the spot light. This is great, because people are wanting to know more about marriage. Marriage is a “big thing” to many people, but if we do not think marriage is a “big thing” to God, we will have a wrong definition of  marriage. The great thing about wanting to know more about marriage will have people wanting to know about the Gospel. A great part of this post is showing the significance to marriage definition and how it relates to the Gospel.

Therefore this is my 93rd post on defending and presenting what God's word says about marriage being one man and one woman for life. This is yet another “apologetic” for the permanence of marriage. (1 Peter 3:15)

Why is marriage one man and one woman for life? 

1. God says so.

Key verses:  Gen 2:24; Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9; Romans 7:2,3; 1 Cor 7:39; Eph 5:31 and Heb 13:4  
Wherever you see God saying anything about marriage in the Bible it is referred to as a lifetime one-flesh covenant that can only end in death. Marriage is very serious to God and He makes it very clear that what He says is truth. The Lord Jesus Christ own recorded words call for marriage permanence as it was in the beginning…one man and one woman for life. (Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9) This is the foundation of marriage and any time you want to discuss marriage, these verses must apply!

Many will say…”What about adultery, abuse, and abandonment?” In which I answer, “What does God’s word have to say about trusting in Him when things are beyond our control? What does He say about sin, and how to handle sin? What does He say about loving our enemies? If God is not big enough to handle our problems, then why did you stand before Him and make a vow of marriage to your spouse in the first place? Did you believe that God would not keep and honor His part of the marriage covenant, and/or do you believe that you are responsible for your spouse’s covenant vow to you?

I believe G.K. Chesterton puts ones faith in God into perspective:

“The broad-minded are extremely bitter because a Christian who wishes to have several wives when his own promise bound him to one, is not allowed to violate his vow at the same altar at which he made it.” - G.K. Chesterton

2. Marriage represents Christ love for His church. 

Key verses: Gen 1:1-Rev 22:21 
The Bible from front to back is a picture of the bridegroom Christ coming for His bride. The "witness" of marriage by the church of Christ must be that of a body of believers who defend marriage as a one-flesh covenant until death. Marriage is not man's idea, it is God's law.

Divorce will never be an option for the believer. If your spouse uses unilateral court appointed laws to exit a marriage, he or she only exited what man sees, and not what God grafted from above. Never fall into believing that marriage is a piece of paper; unless you divorced from a first covenant spouse and seek to remarry. Ironically, a divorce decree is only applicable to end an adulterous union that God says was never a marriage in the first place.

3. Marriage speaks boldly of God and His creation…from the beginning. 

Key verses: Genesis 2:7-25; Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-; Romans 7:2,3
Since man was created in God’s image and God provided man a helpmeet (woman), it best serves to treat marriage as a gift from God. It was God’s grace that gave us life, and it was God’s grace that gave us marriage. It is no wonder that a new life (children) can only come from one man and one woman. Since everything God created was “good”, it serves to say that divorce is not good and that marriage is permanent.

The "law of marriage" originated in the beginning, and this law applies today. The Lord Jesus Christ came to fulfill the laws, of which marriage was already established before Adam took a bite from the forbidden fruit. Thus, marriage in the New Testament does not include the foreign idea of divorce.

In Timothy C. Tennents recent posts "Marriage, Human Sexuality and the Body", he asks believers to consider the thought of marriage as it was in the beginning.

“When Paul says, “in Adam all die and in Christ all are made alive”, that is a reference to only Christ and the fallen Adam.  But, when Jesus says “from the beginning it was not so” he is calling us to look back even before the Fall.  We have to go back to the original design and understand something of the theology of creation, the theology of the body, and God’s original intention for the cosmic role of Adam and Eve in the original creation, which we must examine before we rush too quickly to Genesis 3 and the entrance of sin.” -Timothy C. Tennent

4. Marriage creates humility.

Key verses: Eph 5:22-33
God created man, and then He created woman out of man. One became two, to become one again. Before the fall of man, both the man and woman were unashamed (Gen 2:25) and after the fall, God specifically stated that there would be difficulty between a husband and a wife. (Gen 3:16-19) A man will find it difficult to love his wife as God commands, and a wife will find it hard to respect or submit to her husband. 

This is where the power of the Gospel comes in. The Lord Jesus Christ is the great equalizer, because apart from the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we cannot rightly love and submit respectively. Since marriage was formed and joined by God, it makes sense to include Him as the officiator of marriage. Thus, when two become one, the cement that keeps them in place is the love of Christ. 

5. Marriage models the Gospel and is a witness to unbelievers.

Key verse: Eph 5:32
Everyone wants to be loved and adored. Every man and woman desires to be loved, and marriage is not only God’s gift offering of that that love, but marriage represents that love as well.  It speaks volumes when a couple loves each other. Outward affection and inward humility between couples create a beautiful dance. When we understand where this gift of marriage originates, we have a better understanding of God’s love for us. God provided us with a suitable partner in this temporary lifetime. But the foundation of this temporal institution has eternal qualities. 

Displayed in marriage is this eternal love that Christ has for us. He longs for His bride, and we become his bride when we accept the humility and love He gave on our behalf on the cross of Calvary. In Hershael W.York’s recent blog post, he equates the witness of the Gospel as it relates to marriage.

“If marriage is a picture of Christ and his love for his church, then much more is at stake than my happiness. The world should long for what Christians have. If our marriages aren’t filled with kindness and joy, why would anyone want what we offer? But when they see in us a mutual delight, a gentle and easy trust in one another, they can’t help but ask, “What’s your secret?” And we can tell them that it’s no secret at all. It’s Jesus.” ~ from  "Is your marriage a picture of the gospel? "Hershael W. York 

6. Marriage unifies the church

Key verses: Eph 5:32; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6; Heb 13:4
Since marriage is a representation of the Gospel and displays the love of Christ, would it not also unify the church? Sadly, there is no mystery that the church is much divided on the issue of marriage. I am not speaking exclusively on the case for same-sex marriage, but the idea of divorce and remarriage. There are four stances on how the church views divorce and remarriage, and much of this was covered here. The Four Stances on Divorce And Remarriage...and Marriage.

If marriage is understood as a one-flesh binding covenant for life, how could the church be so divided? What is even a greater question is this: How should one view the division of marriage? The church that stands for the permance of marriage claims that all remarriages after a divorce of a living covenant spouse is adultery.  Thus, one cannot fellowship with a person or persons who remain in unrepentant sin. This is a delicate issue, but I have offered real biblical advice to correct this and strive for unity on this matter.  Dear Convicted Remarried Believer and Dear Pastor,.

In Trevin Wax’s recent post, he brings to light the schisms resulting from marriage redefinition and how we must view these in light of unity. Keep in mind that what he quotes is not strictly relegated to same-sex marriage and licentiousness. We must consider what he writes as it equates to all aspects of marriage redefinition, up to and including divorce and remarriage.

“It baffles me that one would blame the schisms across the Western Church today on those who uphold Christianity’s historic sexual ethic instead of those who advocate for a sexual revisionism that would have been unfathomable to the generations of the Christians who came before us and, even today, shocks the consciences of the vast majority of Christians outside the West. Only in Western cultures do we call churches “affirming.” Outside the West, the term is ‘apostate.’” -Trevin Wax

In a recent New York Post article, the recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision has brought to light real questions concerning the “unintended consequences” of redefining marriage. This post not only exposes the complications surrounding the decision to redefine marriage, it exposes the evangelical churches inability to “unite” on a sound definition of marriage. 

"If the Constitution guarantees murderers and rapists the opportunity to meet their accusers and defend the charges against them, why no protection for spouses who exercise their fundamental right of marriage? Why does marriage matter so much if its protections and benefits can be cavalierly taken away?" - Beverly Willet

 7. Marriage declares God’s glory for all eternity.

Key verses: Gen 1:1; John 1:1
God created the heavens and the earth. God created man in his image. God created marriage. Everything God created was “good”. How can we as His creation not give all the glory to God? Just as the Lord Jesus Christ glorifies God  by remaining in perfect relationship with the Father, so too does marriage provide the means in which to glorify God by living out a relationship with our spouse.
 The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to save us from sin and death, it was His love for us that is so evident in the union of marriage. The core of the Gospel is believing that His perfect sacrifice brings us into a relationship with God, which was previously unattainable by our own less-than-perfect works. Though marriage does not save us from sin and death, marriage demands that we sacrifice self to become one with our spouse. A marriage vow says that we will stand by our spouse no matter what happens. So too Is Christ’s marriage to His church, he will never leave or forsake us. 

He will always be faithful, even when we are not.

In effect, this puts into perspective the love of a Savior, the glory of God and the purpose of marriage. Viewing marriage with an eternal perspective is in total contrast of viewing marriage as if there is nothing beyond this life. The paradigm is that marriage of one man and one woman ending in death, requires a Christ-like love to remain and persevere to the end. The rewards of remaining in this lifetime marriage is eternity married to Christ. The rewards of believing marriage is a means to make us happy can only be obtained in this life. This is disastrous. Not only was marriage a means to fulfill your life, it also reveals what you believe about eternity. Viewing marriage as temporal will have eternal consequences. Viewing marriage as eternal will have temporal consequences.

In conclusion, I have offered another apologetic for the permanence of marriage. In reality, the apologetic was already in the word of God. If it begs to ask the question: Why would God make marriage permanent? One need only open the pages of His word and believe what the Holy Spirit reveals, and not what we want to be true. This is the question everyone needs to answer: What is the law of marriage as it pertains to me?

Proverbs 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

In Christ’s love,

1 comment:

Unilateral Divorce Is Unconstitutional said...

...exposes the evangelical churches' inability to “unite” on a sound definition of marriage.

"If the Constitution guarantees murderers and rapists the opportunity to meet their accusers and defend the charges against them, why no protection for spouses who exercise their fundamental right of marriage? Why does marriage matter so much if its protections and benefits can be cavalierly taken away?" - Beverly Willett

What a great observation! Yes, many Christian policy watchers have echoed what you've said about shameful absence of political opposition by the church to a profoundly unconstitutional law, while howling loudly over abortion and gay marriage. Good post, but I think the one we'll share next is "Dear Pastor".