The Original Design of Marriage - 1

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Part One - The Original Design of Marriage 1

What is God’s view when it comes to the matter of divorce and remarriage?  What does He recognize as legitimate circumstances for divorce and in what cases is a Christian free to remarry?  Ask this question of a dozen preachers and you will probably get a dozen different answers.  Talk or counsel with some one contemplating divorce and they will speak with certainty as to God’s will even though they have never personally studied the matter for themselves.  Ask someone who has great  conviction in this matter after his daughter or son go through a nasty divorce and see how far their conviction has melted away.  Even the pastor often feels the pressure of speaking as the oracle of God knowing full well that in doing so some of his congregation will leave because of it.  “Pastor agree with what I have decided or I will find a church and a pastor that does.”  This so reminds me  of the words of Paul as he speaks to the generation leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.

2 Ti 4:2-4, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

If there is this much division of thought and conviction about this matter, can anyone know with certainty God’s will ?  The answer to this question is a definite yes.  God is very clear regarding His rules on divorce and remarriage but we must avoid some common pit falls if we desire to learn them.

We must consider the whole council of God.  We can not fall into the danger of picking and choosing only those passages which seem to fit our perspective of God’s will.   Just recently two well know radio pastors preached on this subject and both came to the wrong conclusion.  The reason was simple.  They had not considered all that the Word of God says on this matter.  They had left out key verses that are crucial to a correct understanding.

We must want to know God’s will.  Jesus said He would send His Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who would lead us into all truth (Jn. 16:13).   This implies that we must lay aside all personal opinions and those of others and open ourselves up to the teaching of the Spirit through the Word of God.  Let the Spirit of God leads us into all truth.  It is so easy to say this preacher says or this teacher teaches, but let us keep in mind that all men are fallible, even the greatest.  The only certainty we can have of God’s truth is that which comes through the work of the Spirit of God.  In all that we look at do not take the word of this writer, but rather of a personal study of the Word of God (2 Tim. 2:15)

We must leave our emotions out of the process.  As many pastors will attest, emotions too often play the determining factor as to where some one ends up on this issue.  For example, “it is not fair for my loved one to remain single while their former mate goes out and remarries and enjoys life.”  This author, from an emotional point of view. would not disagree with this statement, however emotions are not the determining factor in this matter.  The Word of God always supersedes man’s emotions or feelings.  There will be times when God’s will seems unfair however God’s will is always the best path to follow.

Because we have indicated that the whole of God’s Word needs to be consulted in order to understand this issue it will be necessary to break this study up into parts.  In doing so to fully grasp what God ‘s says we must not make up our minds until all is said and done.

To begin the study of divorce and remarriage, we must begin where Jesus began.  In Matthew 19, the Pharisees came to Jesus with a theological question they thought He could not answer.  It was a carefully thought out question designed to entrap Jesus in a theological quagmire that had been ranging for years.  The subject was divorce with the purpose to remarry and the question was, “what are the legitimate grounds for divorce and remarriage.”  In Jesus day there were two schools of thought on this matter.  The one school believed that God granted divorce for only the most serious of sins while the other school believed that god granted divorce for even trivial matters.  Therefore the  debate was not whether God allowed divorce and remarriage but under what grounds did He allow it.

To answer this question Jesus chooses to go to the first two chapters of the Bible to see what pattern God set for marriage in the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6).  Here is a mistake made too often among current teachers and preachers.  They fail to take into consideration God’s pattern for marriage to help shed light on this important issue.  The Genesis pattern as well as teaching found in the Law of Moses are crucial to a correct understanding of God’s view on divorce and remarriage. 

The pattern for marriage is given in Genesis one and two.  In these two chapters we learn what God designed married to be.

Marriage was to involve two equals (Gen. 1:26-27).  God, on the sixth day of Creation, decided to create His highest order of creation to dwell on the earth.  Because God wanted humans to be rulers on His behalf over all the earth He choose to create them in His image.  A finite copy of the infinite God.  Since John 4:24 indicates that God is a Spirit being therefore the image of God in man would be composed of man’s spirit not his physical body. 

Since the spirit of humanity is the same in both men and women, then both have the same intrinsic value.  Therefore the physical differences between the sexes has nothing to do with their equality or worth .  For example, Peter declares that the woman is the weaker vessel (1 Pet. 3:7).  By this he meant that as a norm, most men are stronger physically then women.  However, Peter makes it clear that this physical difference does not in anyway take away from the equality of women and men for he goes on to say that we are “fellow heirs of the grace of life”. 

It thus can be stated that marriage is the union of two equals.  This to often is missing in marriages.  In many cultures and religions women have and still are considered second class human beings and sometimes just a physical possession.  With such an unbiblical view of the superiority of the male, the marriage is dysfunctional as it centers around what best serves the husband rather than the couple  

However, before we think that in our culture we have beyond such notions, let us examine the question of the equality of the sexes as it impacts our world.   In our society today, the woman has been given an elevated position.  Evolution tells us that we trace our roots back to one woman, not one man.  Likewise, evolution also believes that the male’s greatest contribution to humanity is the role he plays in reproduction.  After all women can do anything a man can except produce the male chromosome.  Some even believe that nature will eventually faze out men leaving only women to carry on.   On a lesser level, often women pock fun at the inadequacies of men and how stupid they behave and think.  Likewise men do the same by berating the inadequacies of women and their unique behavior. 

God says that when a man and a woman get married, they are to view their mate as an equal who draws his or her intrinsic value from the God who created them.  In doing so they are to treat their mates with respect, dignity, and honor befitting one who is born in the image of God.   With this as the basis of a marriage, fewer divorces would be pursued and less would be a necessity.  Divorce is often the result of ignoring this fact as one or both mates think more highly of themselves than they do of the other.  This results in serving oneself and that creates barriers between oneself and one’s mate.

Marriage involves a male and a female.  In Genesis 1:27, God states He created man in His image as male and a female.  In Genesis 1:28 God says He did this so that man might reproduce, filling the earth and to be fruitful in all that He did.  It would seem in light of the context that the fruitfulness of man was tied in directly to the heterosexual relationship between the male and female.   In Genesis 2:24, God further defines how this relationship is to work.  It is to involve a relationship between one man and one woman who willingly enter into marriage and in the process they are merged into one entity by God Himself.  To put it in other words, God originally designed for all of humanity to enter into a marital relationship with someone of the opposite sex and through that relationship have children.

With this in mind we can draw the following some important conclusions about marriage as God instituted it

Marriage was a limited relationship – it was to be a monogamous relationship; some are confused by the record of men marrying more than one wife as part of God’s design for marriage.  However, God is clear here that the relation He established has room for only two individuals.  One man and one woman.  God never condoned polygamy as evidenced in the heavy price all who practiced it paid for violating God’s original order.

It was a specific relationship – it must be between a male and female. This us very clear in Gen. 1:28 for out of this relationship were to come children.  Such is not possible of a relationship between two men or two women.  Therefore, God views homosexual and lesbian relationships a perversion of the original pattern and thus are committing a vile sin against God.  Those who say that Jesus was not against the gay lifestyle have missed the fact that Jesus endorsed the pattern of Genesis only.  Paul further drives this home when he writes that those practice these sins God has turned them over to their hard hearts to practice this and all other kinds of wickedness (Rom. 1:26-32).  The last statement of Paul speaks of the ultimate course this sin takes in the life or an individual.  Ro 1:24 “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

Once again divorce could be limited greatly if people would follow the pattern of a monogamous heterosexual union.  If husbands and wives would keep their vows of remaining true only unto their mates until death sets them a part, the incidences of adultery and dissatisfaction with one’s mate would be greatly diminished.  How often these are the causes for the brake up of a marriage.

We will stop at this point and pick up here next week as we finish looking at the pattern God set for marriage.  The question to be ask of all of us who are married, how do we view and treat our mates.  Do we see them as equal and deserving of our respect, honor, and love?   If we are married, are we remaining true to our vows of being committed to our mates only?  If more Christians would follow the pattern given in Genesis, may be the discussion of what grounds are biblical for divorce would become a mute point.