237. What does the Bible say about marriage? Is it just between a man and a woman or can there be other “couplings”? What will a plebiscite do for marriage in Australia?

What is marriage supposed to look like? How do we know what form it should take? Fortunately, we don’t have to guess. God the creator has revealed this to us in His word, which could be called the “Maker’s Handbook.” He tells us as the Maker, how it began; what is its purpose; and for whom it was intended. We find those truths in Genesis chapter 1 describing the beginning of human existence and also in other passages in the Bible. Unfortunately, in today’s world many people are failing to look back to the origins of creation, marriage etc and have become focussed on things like what they feel human rights should look like, and on other human issues. They fail to realise that all of life has its origin in Him and that we are privileged (not entitled) to be alive in His world. However we are responsible to use our God-given free will to willingly live in the way He meant us to live.

Some folk judge the Lord to be non-existent or if they think He does exist, they see Him as unfair, malevolent, uncaring, discriminating and powerless to help. The problem is that for humans He ultimately will be the judge and all must answer to Him for every thought, word and action in their lives. We don’t have the capability to judge Him. He does have the capability to judge us, and to do so, absolutely fairly.

So how do we go in comparing our idea of what marriage should look like, with His original pattern. As we look at the following passages that tell us what marriage is all about, we need to remember that this is how the Creator Himself planned it. It is the product of His mind. If our opinions are different to His regarding marriage, which of us needs to change? Even as I write these words I think of many folk who are talking unwisely about marriage and pushing their own ideas onto susceptible people. If they knew how seriously God views marriage and resulting family life, they would take time to reconsider their opinions about Him and about marriage.

Just a quick summary of what is brought out more broadly below.

1] God made this world and all the people in it.

2] God designed marriage to be between a male person [a man] and a female person [a woman.]

3] God designed them differently so that together they could reproduce in a way that other “couplings” could not.

4] God made marriage in such a way that it would take priority over other relationships except for the totally committed relationship that both partners should have with Him.

5] God doesn’t want marriage partners to be separated from each other by the introduction of any other person.

The following are the verses that tell us about the origin and meaning of God-given marriage. The text is in the left hand column and the corresponding comments are in the right hand column. I have included the Hebrew and Greek words to show their occurrence in different passages. (The LXX is short for the Greek version of the Old Testament translated by 70 [hence LXX] scholars between perhaps 300 and 200 BC. It was known and quoted extensively by New Testament writers.)

 GENESIS Chapter 1. The beginning of all things and of human existence

Gen 1:26  Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Hebrew Bible text.

“Mankind”. [’āḏām].  Used for male and female humans.

Their value is that they are created by God and made in His image to have dominion in His creation.

 Greek LXX text.

“Mankind”. [ánthrōpos, ἄνθρωπος]. Used for male and female humans.

Gen 1:27  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Hebrew Bible text.

“Mankind”. [’āḏām].  Used for male and female humans

“Male.” [ zāḵār.] Male human or male animal.

“Female.”  [neqēḇāh.] Female human or female animal.

 

Greek LXX Bible text.

“Mankind”. [ánthrōpos. ἄνθρωπος] Used for male and female humans.

“Male.” [ársēn, αρσην] A male human.

“Female.” [thḗlus, θήλυς] A female human.

Creation is made up of two sexes, male and female according to God’s revelation about the creation of the universe. Though they are both equal in status, in being made in His image, they are different in some of the functions they perform in life.

Gen 1:28  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. …”

 

God instituted marriage to be between a man and a woman so that they might be fruitful and multiply. He created them to be different to each other so that together they might accomplish this purpose.

No other coupling can produce this result naturally.

MATTHEW Chapter 19.

The context is that some religious leaders were questioning Jesus about divorce. However He took them back to the origin and purpose of marriage by quoting from Genesis chapter 1. He affirmed that marriage is between a male human [a male] and a female human [a female]. The man takes on new responsibilities as he now adjust his priorities in life to make his wife his number one priority after God.

The resulting marriage normally leads to a one flesh relationship which is viewed by God to be of His making and no one is meant to come between that couple.

Mat 19:3  Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Man”. [ánthrōpos, ἄνθρωπος] In this case the man has a wife.

 

 

Mat 19:4  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  The creator created humans as male or female.

“Male”. [ársēn, ἄρσην] A male human

“Female” [thḗlus, θήλυς]. A female human

Mat 19:5  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? Marriage brings a change in relationships.

“Man”. [ánthrōpos, ἄνθρωπος] the man is to take to himself a woman who will then be called his wife.

“father”.  [patḗr, πατήρ] The male parent of the man.

“mother”. [mḗtēr, μήτηρ]. The female parent of the man.

“wife”. [gunḗ, γυνή]. Can mean woman or wife depending on the context. Here it is “wife”.

 

Mat 19:6  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “One flesh.” Physical union as implied in verse 5, “be united to his wife” where “united” is [kolláō, κολλάω meaning to glue to, to adhere to. English “collage” is from this root.]

“joined together.” [Is from suzeúgnumi,  συζευγνύμι meaning to yoke together. This is what God does. ]

The coming together of a man and a woman in marriage is seen to be God’s intention for one flesh relationships.

No one should seek to come between the couple.

MARK 10:2-9. The corresponding passage in Mark 10:2-9 has the same phrases as shown above in Matthew’s account.

EPHESIANS 5:31-33.

In the context of mutual submission in the relationship between husbands and wives, Paul adds this statement, Eph 5:31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Again the words are almost exactly the same as in Matthew 19:5. What that should mean in practice is found in verse 33, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” They have God-given responsibilities to genuinely care for each other.

 OBSERVATIONS

  • If we are going to use the term “marriage” it should be used in its right context, namely the coming together of a man and a woman in a committed relationship to be united in what would normally become a one flesh relationship.
  • There is no other “coupling” that can be called a “marriage” in Biblical (God’s) terms. The term “same-sex marriage” is an oxymoron in Biblical terms because no such entity is considered by God to constitute marriage.
  • Care must be exercised when dealing with people who believe that marriage is a human right for all people and that to deny marriage to same sex couples is unloving. It may be that they may not know what the Bible has to say on the subject and are trying to be loving and accepting towards all people. They may be ignorant of the fact that God has actually revealed His plan for marriage.
  • In Australia we are soon going to have a plebiscite to get the general population’s opinion on whether the Marriage Act should be changed to allow for same sex marriage. The Marriage Act at present specifies that “marriage” means “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” That definition accords with God’s revealed will in the Bible concerning marriage. If the Marriage Act is eventually changed to include same sex relationships it may become lawful in the eyes of the law in Australia but it would be unlawful in the eyes of the Lord. However His love will always be available for those who take Him, His laws and His purposes for His world (including marriage) seriously.
  • All decisions in God’s world have consequences. One prays that whatever decision is reached, people will be motivated by love, self-denial and fairness in their relationships with each other.
  • It needs to be realised that there will always be some people throughout the world who will vote against the introduction of same sex marriage because they believe that God has declared His purpose for marriage and it does not include marriage between people of the same sex.

Blog No.237. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Friday 8th September 2017

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Politics, Questions and Answers, Sexuality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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