The Bible & Marriage
The House That God Built
(Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19; Ephesians 5:25-33)
If there is a machine that produces a broken product over half of the time, one has two choices: either fix the machine or get a new one. As we compare the modern “dating game” of seeking that “special someone” to a machine that has marriage as its final product, we find that the modern idea of dating has failed miserably at producing lasting marriages. What can we do to repair this system?
God set forth patterns at creation. Terms such as “heaven,” “earth,” “light,” “day,” or “night” refer to the same concepts today. In fact, the seven-day week has no basis in the physical realm, but was a pattern laid down by God for man that has existed for thousands of years! What about God’s design for marriage? Were Adam and Eve real people, or were they figments of an imaginative writer? Could it be true that hominids (partial-human / partial-ape) existed before Adam?
The fact is: God designed marriage for one man and one woman who become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Jesus affirmed this design (Matthew 19) and Paul used marriage in reference to the inseparable relationship of Christ with His body, the church. Anything outside of the design of the Creator is not in accord with His perfect will and plan for mankind. What about divorce? What about abusive situations or incest? These are certainly valid concerns and important questions. However, they must all be considered within the framework of God’s design for men and women. Certainly there are times in which marriages are devastated by sinful behavior. But does wrong behavior necessitate additional wrong actions such as a separation with a goal of divorce? “For all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23). The bringing together of a man and a woman who have separated from their parents is a design by the Creator to be a life-long commitment. This is NOT to say there won’t be hard times or difficult circumstances. Doesn’t the familiar wedding vow say “‘Til death do us part” or “in sickness and in health…”? How has culture gotten to the point that divorce is so easy and commonplace? It is our belief and assertion that the pervasive teaching of evolution, which aims at creation account of Scripture, also affects other areas such as the issue of marriage which is described in Genesis 2. To deal with marriage as Jesus did, one must refer to the Biblical account of the creation of Adam and Eve.
We’ve all done wrong (Romans 3:23). The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were pious and proud, but wrong. They asked Jesus about marriage and He simply stated,
"Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 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? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Matthew 19:6
Jesus didn’t play games. He stated the truth plainly. What did the leaders say in response?
"Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?" Matthew 19:7
This is exactly what is happening today: men asking God, “Why?” Sinful men challenge the Creator.
What was His answer?
“Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Matthew 19:8
In other words, according to Jesus there is a difference between the design of God at creation and the allowance under the Mosaic laws. Hence, the rest of Jesus’ statement is to be understood as under the laws of Moses. Must we keep the Mosaic laws today? No. The “handwriting of ordinances which was against us” (Colossians 2:14) was nailed to His cross! We are not under the law of Moses anymore! The law was a “schoolmaster” to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24), the Savior from sin. Why must we go back to the laws of Moses for justification for divorce? It is just as Jesus said: because of the hardened hearts of men.
Divorce is very common today and mankind has strayed far from the pattern God gave at creation. What can we do? Is there good news to share with people...unmarried, married, divorced, re-married? We think there is! Do hearts need to stay hardened? No! We can come to the Creator through faith in Christ’s work on the cross, the payment which was made for all sin, and receive full and free forgiveness. Receiving this pardon means we then have the power to forgive others who have wronged us, and this applies to marriage partners as well. The good news is that through the love of Christ we can forgive too!
Are there extenuating circumstances that strain marriages? Of course! Does it mean that divorce is necessary? No! In fact, divorce is NEVER necessary. God is a life-changing God, and it may be that we want to get out from under a situation before we learn the lesson God has for us. Perhaps it was a situation that was a bad choice on our part in the first place. Sometimes, bad situations are not our fault or of our choosing. However, God has something for us to learn through “all things.”
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
When the religious crowd came to Jesus challenging Him on the issue of divorce, He referred them back to the Genesis account. When they pressed the issue and asked why Moses allowed for divorce, Jesus made some statements that even had His disciples’ attention! What is this “exception,” and does it indicate an allowance for some divorces today?
In Matthew 19, we see this “exception clause.”
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. Matthew 19:9
The argument is this: if Jesus gave an allowance in cases that involved “fornication,” then there are SOME situations in which divorce is sanctioned by God. However, there are many problems with this view, four of which are dealt with briefly here:
- The response of the disciples (Matthew 19:10). When Jesus was supposedly allowing an “out” for marriage, the disciples reacted with “It is not good to marry.” Why would this be their response if Jesus were making an exception that allowed for divorce?
- A contradiction of previous standards. Jesus had just stated, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Would the Son of Man allow the “putting asunder” of that which He had just affirmed? This would be a contradiction, and the God of Creation, Who knows everything, cannot contradict Himself.
- The picture of Christ and the Church. If God used marriage to represent His love for the Church, the “Bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5:25-27), divorce would certainly ruin this picture.
- Incorrectly using the Mosaic law. If we must go to the Old Testament law of Moses to seek justification for divorce, when we are saved by grace and do not have to keep the law of Moses, we end up picking and choosing which Scriptures we apply and which ones we don’t.
The fact is that we must work to maintain before men the Biblical view of marriage as an institution of God for a man and a woman who become “one flesh.” Anything outside of this design is detrimental to us, our present culture, and future generations. Lovingly pointing people to these truths is to show the love of the Creator, whether or not individuals are willing to accept them.