Stan Cox

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The Establishment & Duration of Marriage

The home was established by God at the dawn of time.  It is the most ancient of all God ordained institutions.  In his conversation with the Pharisees in Matthew 19, Jesus said:

"Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (verses 4-6).

Jesus' reference to the Genesis account of God's creative work, and his subsequent divine commentary on that event, establish two very important points for our consideration.  First, the institution of marriage has a divine mandate.  Second, the parameters of the institution, as ordained by God, include a lifetime commitment to the arrangement.

A Divine Institution

The most important consequence of the understanding that marriage has a divine origin is that the design of marriage is not open to human modification.  On December 20, 1999 the Vermont State Supreme Court ruled that it violated their state    constitution   to     deny    marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the state.  Previous to this landmark decision, Gay and Lesbian lobbyists applied pressure to have their "unions" recognized   as   legal   marriages.       National politicians resisted the efforts, and responded by passing the "Defense of Marriage Bill", which President Clinton passed into law in September of 1996.  The measure limits the definition of marriage to those unions consisting to two individuals who are sexually opposite.  However, many legal scholars believe this bill to be unconstitutional, and the jury is still out as to whether homosexual marriages will be given legal standing in the country.

While some men seek to redefine the parameters of the marriage relationship, it should be understood that such efforts constitute a usurping of authority.  God designed marriage, and he defined marriage in the following way:  "a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).  The woman was created to complete the man.  She is not identical to him, but rather supplements him with her own unique characteristics (cf. Genesis 2:18).  As the two combine, a synergism is created.  (Synergism - cooperative action of discrete agencies such that the total effect is greater than the sum of the effects taken independently.  Websters).  Obviously, this effect is not possible in any same-sex union.

Other departures from God's design, though not legal distortions, are nevertheless destructive to the institution.  For example, some seek to destroy or modify the roles God has given to the man and woman in the marriage relationship.  In Ephesians 5, Paul gave instructions to the wife, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (verses 22-24).  Some wives, perhaps from confusion, perhaps rebellion, are not in proper subjection to their husbands.

Likewise, Peter has instructions for the husbands, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7).  One obvious reason why women in our society have left their roles in the home is because of the mistreatment they have received from their husbands.  The role of headship contains great responsibility.  Too many men are not giving their wives proper respect and honor.  They are selfish in their own desires and care too little for the precious partner they have chosen for life.

Unfortunately, such distortion of marriage has even influenced Christian homes.  Christian husbands and wives need to carefully consider God's requirements of them in marriage.

The Duration of Marriage

A final departure from God's marriage design is seen in the proliferation of divorces in our society.  Jesus, in indicating the divine nature of the marriage contract, said, "Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 9:6).  The prophet Malachi clearly stated God's attitude toward divorce, "'For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence', says the LORD of hosts. 'Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously'" (Malachi 2:16).

In contrast to God's design, society, and even many brethren have rebelliously clamored for the right to divorce and remarry.  Societal pressures have led the government to establish "no-fault" divorce laws.  A summary of California divorce law found at the California State Library web site states the following:

"Three years after Governor Brown (Edmund Brown, 1966) urged reforming California's fault-based divorce law, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Family Law Act of 1969 into law, making California the first no-fault divorce state in the nation.  Or, looked at by some in another way, 'On September 5, 1969, with a stroke of his pen, California governor Ronald Reagan wiped out the moral basis for marriage in America.'  Since California's historic divorce reform, every state has enacted some form of no-fault divorce."

It is not surprising that brethren have been influenced by such ungodliness.  Of course, rationalization is necessary for any who claim to love God, so abundant theories exist as to how one can "scripturally" get around God's prohibition of divorce.  Such theories ignore the plain truths established above.  God hates divorce, and intends the contract between a man and woman in marriage to be a lifetime commitment.  It is a directive we must obey!

God designed marriage.  He defines the parameters of the institution, and man is bound to follow them.  If man refuses, God will judge him for his sin.  The world does not accept this... The Christian must!


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