PASTOR COLUMN - Marriage was instituted by God; man can't alter it

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In my last article, "Re-examine the meaning of right, wrong" I argued that the only way to decide what is right is to measure it against the objective truth of the Bible. Comparing an idea with a body of truth seems to have considerable merit. Take the idea of marriage, for example.

Washington law says marriage is a civil contract. The law then codifies marriage by stipulating who may solemnize the union, what applications must be complete, when and where certificates are filed, even making violations punishable as a misdemeanor. If we accept that proposition without comparing it with the Bible, we could continue to conduct business as usual, meaning that we could change the laws whenever we desire.

But is Washington law the best body of truth, when it comes to domestic relations? The bad news is, the government can look as far back as the U.S. Constitution - but no farther.

The good news is that we can consult the founding Father of humanity.

Marriage is God's idea. The LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:18, 24).

Jesus taught that marriage is more than culture and tradition, marriage is divine. It has a set design, by the will of God. Imagine a triangle, with God at the top, man and wife in the corners, and you can see what God intended. As both husband and wife grow closer in their relationship with God, they also grow closer to one another.

The Bible is clear that spiritual relationships as more important than earthly relationships, and yet the two are inseparable. They cannot be separated because marriage is a covenant, not a contract.

In the last book of the Old Testament we read, "the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?" (Malachi 2:14-15).

The marriage covenant is based upon faith. Faith-keeping is the obligation more than obedience for both parties. That faith has one object, God. We are commanded not to break faith with our spouse because that is to break faith with God.

God is the author and sustainer of marriage. Have you not heard, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6)?

The institution of marriage is not man-made. We have no authority, ability or inherent right to change the spiritual, moral or physical dimensions of marriage. Marriage is God's idea, and is not subject to our interpretation because the Bible has already interpreted it for us. The mystery of marriage is that it refers to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32). Christ is the groom and the Church is his bride. We can't change the meaning of marriage because we can't change its referent.

Government can't make a law that is unconstitutional for the same reason. Washington state has already set up domestic partnerships as the legal equivalent to marriage. In this existing law, civil liberties are extended to state registered domestic partners with the express intent they be treated the same as married spouses (RCW 26.60.015).

I heard our governor say concerning same-sex marriage, "The religions can decide what they want to do ...." I'm sorry, Madam, but the idea of marriage is out of your hands and mine. You can't call it marriage if it isn't God-made.

The corpus of Scripture testifies that God does not change, nor can we add to his words or take away from them. Although we might break faith with God, he will remain faithful. He is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God.

One day, he will return for his bride, and a new kind of marriage will begin, but nothing will change about marriage until then. If we were able to stop the return of Christ, we could change the definition of marriage. But an idea that does not measure up to the objective truth of the Bible is wrong. When we get right our relationship with God, then we will know what is right.

The Rev. Neil L'Hommedieu is pastor of Blue Mountain Baptist Church. You may reach him at 509-527-069

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