by J. Randal Matheny, editor
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments against the traditional definition of marriage, as homosexual advocates attempt to include same-sex relationships in the legal definition of the institution established by God. Forty-one states have affirmed the traditional concept of marriage, and conservatives hope the court will not undermine this healthy movement.
Fallen man loves to redefine God’s terms. He ever moves the divine limits. Proverbs warned against changing the literal boundary lines set when Israel took possession of Canaan. “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22.28 ESV; cf. 23.10). Shifting the boundary stones meant oppressing the weak. Moving marriage’s limits also oppresses children who need a mom and a dad to develop properly, become responsible adults, and, most importantly, learn about God.
No marriage is perfect, because there are no perfect people. But marriage can and does play its essential role for imperfect people. It plays this role best for Christians who have the sacrifice of Christ as their model for relationship (see Ephesians 5).
No marriage can fulfill all of a person’s desires. Marriage is a place to give, not the place to seek satisfaction. It is true of marriage as well that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Marriage ought to be, was designed to be, a microcosm of the divine love. Man was created as the object of God’s love, and marriage is that relational commitment in which that love is best shared. This is no negation of the church, but an affirmation of the first divine institution created for man.
Good marriages undergird strong churches. Elders must be married, in good relationships, with submissive wives and obedient children. Servants must also be married. Letters to churches devote space to marital and familial relationships. Holy matrimony and faithful churches reinforce one another.
Marriage is a commitment that not even baptism can undo. Baptism does not miraculously turn adultery into matrimony.
Unhappy married people will be unhappy in subsequent marriages, researchers tell us. Marriage does not make people happy. Marriage will reveal one’s inner state of being, the self that one brings to the relationship.
A large percentage of the invitations I get to speak in other congregations and in events of the brotherhood deals with marriage and the family. These are topics of intense interest today, because at home people show their real face. It’s often not as pretty as the face shown in church meetings. The solution to improve or repair a marriage, however, is to apply an individual remedy: repentance from selfishness and renewal of the sacrifice of Christ in one’s life.
Marriage can limit or expand one’s usefulness in the kingdom of God, but it cannot prevent one from serving the Lord. Singleness can also be a blessed state for service.
It is better not to marry than to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. If a married couple cannot share the grace of God in their relationship, little is left to share. Love lacks divine definition in such a relationship and will likely grow cold.
Haste to marry wastes many a life. Marrying for a bad reason seldom makes for a good marriage.
The “one flesh” of a godly marriage produces a new life. Man and woman become one, and the union is blessed with children. This seems almost a paradox, but it reveals the greater divine plan. From the one God springs new life to receive an eternal love.