So, there’s been a lot of talk lately over the Supreme Court cases around same-sex marriage and DOMA. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed dozens of Facebook friends changing their profile pictures to some variation of the red equal sign. Then I had my other Facebook friends who took the time to write something deep or prolific about the sanctity of marriage, how God defines it, etc. (and yes, I did write one statement regarding it). My husband and I talked about all the controversy for a couple of days (like most people did), and then we moved on. But something I saw online has drawn my thoughts back to this topic again, and I just wanted to take the time this morning to flesh out my thoughts.
Being a Christian, I recognize that a lot of Christians hold the belief that God has defined marriage, and people do not have the authority to redefine it. Thus, they disapprove of sex-same marriage. I also recognize that a lot of Christians believe that God is happy when you love someone genuinely and that He doesn’t have a problem with whoever you love. Now, I do ascribe to the first point of view. However, I feel that we Christians have failed to recognize that marriage has already been redefined countless times throughout history, and it will continue to be redefined until Christ returns. Now you may ask me how, and I want to show you some examples.
When was marriage redefined?
- When it became acceptable for people to use marriage to cement political ties and alliances, marriage was redefined.
- When it became acceptable for people to use marriage for their personal financial gain, marriage was redefined.
- When it became acceptable for parents to hold “shot-gun” weddings because of their children’s uncontrollable sexual lust, marriage was redefined.
- When it became acceptable for parents to offer their children in marriage to pay off or settle debts, marriage was redefined.
- When it became acceptable for people to divorce their spouses for arbitrary reasons, marriage was redefined.
- When it became acceptable for women to not submit to their husband’s authority, marriage was redefined.
- When it became acceptable for men to not love their wives as the example of Christ, marriage was redefined.
- When people felt like they could do whatever they wanted to their spouse, marriage was redefined.
- When we made getting a divorce easier, marriage was redefined.
- When we began teaching our children to enjoy their lives before they get married because it was over after that, marriage was redefined.
- When people wanted to get married but despised having children, marriage was redefined.
- When people began to put more emphasis and work in the wedding than in the marriage itself, marriage was redefined.
- When marriage became about your own personal happiness, marriage was redefined.
- The fact is that any time you fail to see that the purpose of marriage was and is to reflect the relationship between Christ and His church, then you have redefined marriage.
As I said before, marriage has been redefined countless times throughout history, and it is now that many Christians are getting upset because the majority of our society wants to publicly redefine now for same-sex couples. I wish Christians were consistent. I really wish we showed proper disapproval anytime we deviated from the truth of God’s Word around marriage (and any topic for that matter), but alas, we don’t. We condone a lot of selfish beliefs and ideas about marriage within the church, and we spread those beliefs to our own children. We sit and wonder how things have become this way, but it became this way because of what we have permitted, accepted, and continue to teach.
So what’s the real deal about marriage?
The real deal about marriage is that God gave us (men and women) marriage to demonstrate the relationship between Christ and His church (His bride). Marriage was intended to demonstrate something divine. Marriage was intended to be the physical manifestation of the spiritual relationship between God and the church characterized by His love and faithfulness being mutually demonstrated. Consider Ephesians 5:22-33:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
You should also consider Malachi 2:10-16:
Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
Also consider Matthew 19:2-12:
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast 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 not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”
And finally 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
These passages show what God’s point was, what His intention has always been. Just as much as He has demonstrated and abundantly shown His love and faithfulness towards us, He demands that His church is loving and faithful to Him as well. And that is expressly seen in the marriage relationship that He gave us. Consider all of the examples that I gave above about how we have redefined marriage throughout history, and consider them in the context of God’s relationship with His church.
- If God was interested in political ties and alliances, He would have no need of marriage because He is perfectly sovereign and above all things.
- Consequently, God would have no need of marriage because He is the Creator of all things, and He can’t gain anything else from it personally.
- There is no sin in God, so He’s not trying to cover some uncontrollable lust problem.
- God is not indebted to anyone because He is God alone.
- God’s people have always been unfaithful and idolatrous throughout the ages, yet He still honors His covenants with Abraham and David among us today.
- God has never made the church equal to Christ in any way, and thus, the church always comes under the authority of Christ.
- If God did not love us, Christ would have never died (much less came to Earth) for us, and we would not have the offer of salvation available to us.
- God’s Word is unchanging and always relevant, and He has never been selfish in His relationship with the church.
- If God could lie and back out of a covenant promise, we would have had record of that by now, but because He is God, He cannot lie or be unfaithful (it goes against His divine nature).
- Christ did everything with His eyes set on the joy that was before Him, and He instructed us to do the same.
- Christ told us that anyone who doesn’t bear fruit would be taken away, but every branch in Him should be bearing fruit.
- Christ instructed His disciples about the means of salvation, but He spent more time teaching them how that salvation would be worked out in sanctification.
- Christ, though God Himself, did not grasp His own divinity, but humbled Himself taking the form of a servant and became obedient to the point of death.
I say all of this to say that though the world and society are wrong, there are a whole host of self-proclaimed Christians that are also wrong. Many of us do not think rightly of marriage these days. We are prideful, selfish, self-centered, and constantly seeking our own interests. We refuse to die to ourselves daily, and we wonder why marriages are a wreck. We think being personally happy in marriage is the most important thing, but we forget it was supposed to point to God in the first place. We have an abundance of excuses and reasons why we can’t fully obey God’s Word, and we act like God’s Word came with the clause: If all of your external circumstances are good, then obey. His Word has no clause like that, and obedience to God is not conditional upon your external circumstances. It never has been.
Now, if God had entered into a covenant relationship with another god, then same-sex couples would have a Biblical basis for their appeals. But God did not. But if God did any of the things that a lot of couples do today in their marriages, then we would have a Biblical basis for a lot of marital foolishness. But God did not. God has been unchanging in His relationship with His children throughout generations. Even the old covenant of the sacrificial system and external obedience pointed to the permanent sacrifice of Christ with the new covenant and the writing of obedience upon our hearts and minds, changing our very nature.
The fact is this: Marriage is a divine institution being mediated by sinful people. Therefore, we all need to do some self-assessment, repent of our sins, go back to the Word, and make sure that our marriages reflect the awesome and beautiful relationship that Christ has had with His church over the centuries. And when you have the correct view of marriage based on the Word of God, make sure that you pass that down to your children like you’re supposed to.