The institution of marriage involves a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. Man and woman, by mutual consent, enter the arrangement.
But the procedure, in order to be valid, must be consistent with divine law. The Origin of Marriage According to anthropologists, there is no society wherein marriage does not exist in some format Montague, p. The institution is, therefore, a universal phenomenon. Since every effect must have an adequate cause, there must be some reasonable explanation for this feature of global society.
Actually, there are but two logical possibilities. Marriage either is of supernatural origin, or it had a naturalistic beginning. A writer in a popular encyclopedia says: A more slippery statement will be hard to find. The fact is, such a theory is seriously flawed.
While it is true that some creatures apparently mate for life e. That does not square with the notion that marriage gradually developed as various kinds of organisms were becoming more sophisticated.
Biblical teaching is unequivocal. In a discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus cited this Old Testament evidence, and declared: Here is a crucial point. If it is the case that marriage was designed and inaugurated by the Creator, then he has the authority to set the rules. Men and women do not have the right to treat this sacred human relationship in a cavalier, self-directed manner. First, the marriage, is a relationship between a man and a woman.
Professor John Davis has noted: Second, marriage was designed to be a strictly monogamous arrangement. Early on, however, rebellious man decided it could be otherwise. Lamech, a descendant of Cain was the first polygamist Gen. The manner in which this incident is introduced reveals it to have been a spiritual aberration. Third, marriage was designed with a hierarchial arrangement.
This is no license for a dictatorship or any form of abuse, but it does acknowledge a graduation of authority within the home. Tragically, this has been the case far too often. Both ideas may, be involved cf. Fourth, the marriage union was intended to be a lifelong arrangement. Though it is the fad in our modern world, husbands and wives do not have the right to change marital partners as easily as they would change a garment!
The Purpose of Marriage Having given some consideration to the sacred traits of the marriage union, it is now appropriate that we raise this question: Why did God ordain marriage? First, marriage accommodates our social needs. The need is most ideally fulfilled in the marriage union. Second, marriage provides the means for the gratification of sexual desire — a virtuous, God-given inclination. The Creator never intended, however, for human beings to engage in promiscuous sexual liaisons.
Sexual activity outside of a legitimate marriage commitment is fornication. But if one desires not to live celibate, he is free to marry to avoid fornication 1 Cor.
Third, a home sanctified by marriage affords the ideal environment for the rearing of children. The conception of children is to follow marriage Gen. How heartbreaking it is that so many are bringing children into this world without the benefit of a two-parent home.
Fourth, the husband and wife arrangement was intended to facilitate the divine plan for human redemption. This point cannot be pressed too strongly. Jehovah, in his infinite knowledge, knew — even before the world was formed — that humanity would stray, and so need the atoning sacrifice of his Son Eph.
That being the case, one must conclude that everything the Creator did, throughout the ages of Old Testament history, ultimately, was in view of the coming of Christ.
The very first thing on the sacred agenda was the institution of marriage. When family life unravels, national devastation is certain to follow eventually. It is within the marriage-blessed home that children first learn the principles of responsibility, justice, and the respect for authority. When these virtues have been neglected in a youngster, he or she makes a poor candidate for the gospel.
Too, the warm love between husband and wife is frequently used in scripture as an apt illustration for the affection and devotion that God has for his people cf. Here is why these points are so crucial. They help explain why the laws regarding marriage are so strict. A breakdown in this institution undermines acceptation of the gospel. What a burden to bear. The Binding Nature of Marriage As mentioned above, God desires that the marriage commitment remain intact as long as both mates are living.
We must also note that the marital union does not obtain beyond death Mt. Jehovah, through a prophet, announced: In a recently published book, Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Post-Modern Society, author Glenn Stanton has assembled a massive array of evidence, surveying a century of social studies, which forcefully demonstrates the lasting trauma that divorce wreaks upon both adults and children.
For example, divorcees are more likely to become addicted to alcohol, commit suicide, be subject to depression, etc. Too, children of divorced parents are much more prone to both mental and physical ailments than children of undivorced parents.
For a summary of this material, see ""The Devastating Effects of Divorce"". This latter clause warrants closer investigation. The perfect tense has to do with an antecedent action, the impact of which remains in force. The thrust of the statement is this: Accordingly, Jesus, in anticipation of the inauguration of the New Covenant, brings marital responsibility back to a higher plateau.
There are several important truths that may be emphasized in connection with this passage. First, the marriage law of Christ is universal. Somehow, baptism is supposed to legitimize illicit relationships. That the marriage law of Christ is applicable to all men is evidenced by the following arguments. Marriage provides people with a lawful means of satisfying sexual desire 1 Cor 7: If non-Christians cannot be married according to the law of God, they are helpless to do anything but fornicate — if they would indulge their normal appetites.
Where there is no law there is no transgression Rom. The writer of Hebrews admonishes: Is there no such thing as an undefiled bed outside the church? Must all couples who enter the church now get married? Does baptism become a marriage ceremony? Second, the Lord taught that there is but one cause for a valid divorce, and that is fornication on the part of one of the partners. Jude 7 in nature. One has a right to a divorce, therefore, only if his spouse is sexually unfaithful. But divorce, even against a fornicator, is not obligatory.
Ideally, the wounded mate will forgive the erring partner and attempt to save the marriage. The only remedy for adultery, or any other sin, is repentance which involves a cessation of the evil conduct cf. Church leaders who offer false hope to those ensnared in adulterous unions, by telling them they simply may pray, then retain in the status quo, are guilty of the grossest from of ministerial malfeasance.
Some preachers have virtually made a career of peddling adultery. How Do We Confront Society? Several years ago this writer engaged in a public discussion with a friend, Truman Scott, on the issue of divorce and remarriage.
Needless to say, such a view has no support whatever in scripture. Our friend attempted to buttress his argument with this appeal. Is this the depth to which our preaching has descended? Nicole has spoken to this very point.
Did not Christ, the Apostles and the early Christian church face a world with a laxity equal to, or even worse than that of our times, and yet proceed on the strict basis established in the NT? No true gospel preacher will compromise the biblical teaching on divorce for the sake of placating a worldly culture. We must hold true to the Book! The New Testament in the Language of Today. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Paradise to Prison — Studies in Genesis.
Salt Lake City, UT: Presbyterian Board of Publications.