Thursday, September 28, 2006
In our world today, views and definitions of marriage abound. The glut of so-called “marital” forms displayed across the globe reflect not only the West’s obsession with Postmodernism but humankind’s natural (or rather unnatural) tendency to define their own realities and obligations based on their immediate needs, desires, and good old fashion foolishness. From polygyny, polyandry, and polyamory to swingers, open and alternative marriages (insert your own definition here), the true meaning and purpose of marriage has been raped by the machine of human depravity. Perhaps this “definition” of marriage from an alternative marriage chat room is a good motto for the world’s understanding of marriage: “anybody of any anything who is married in any way to any other anything.”
Sadly however, the distortion of the institution of marriage is not a distinctive of only the openly pagan contingent of society. Many religious faiths, even those that would broadly qualify as “christian,” hold damaging, erroneous, and necessarily unbiblical stances concerning marriage. These stances stem from many causes but often are the result of incorrectly interpreting and applying the Biblical texts. One of the more notorious flawed views of marriage is that it is merely a device instituted by God to facilitate procreation. This view is held by many Catholics as well as some in the evangelical church.
The Biblical definition of marriage stands in sharp, countercultural defiance of today’s public understanding. God’s definition of marriage is given to us straight from the mouth of Christ, where He recounts God’s establishment of the marriage institution during the creation week: “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matt 19:4-7) Again, the purpose for marriage is found in the creation account. The only thing not “good” in all of God’s perfect creation was the loneliness of Adam. Thus God created Eve as his companion (Gen 2:18-25). Yes they were to have children, but they also were to share in the task of stewarding God’s creation. And they were to do it as an intimate entity. So intimate in fact that they did everything naked. Everything. Intimate companionship between a human male and human female to the glory of God is at the core of what marriage is. Marriage is about fulfilling and having fulfilled each others God-given desires for intimate companionship which translates into God glorifying fruit. This intimate companionship can only be sustained and blessed through a marriage covenant. Again our understanding of a covenant comes from God Himself. The first mention of a covenant relationship is found in the Flood narrative. From there, God continues to make covenants with people of His choosing and these covenants form the foundation and framework of all that occurs in the rest of scripture as well as our very own present faith in Christ. A covenant in the Biblical sense is a binding agreement, with extreme consequence for violating it. It is this agreement into which married couples enter into when they exchange their vows.
Although this understanding of marriage may seem archaic or even foreign to some, it is nevertheless the institution God has established to fulfill the human need for intimate companionship. Since God is the author of marriage, it is beautiful, full of hope, and a living metaphor for His intimate, loving relationship with His Bride (Eph 5:22-33). To abandon Biblical marriage is to abandon beauty and hope both for individuals and society at large. Every other institution that God put into place has at its center the family as its essential basic unit. This ancient standard is anything but outdated. It is one of the oldest expressions of God’s grace and grace can never be outdated.
by God's grace,
for God's glory,