The Fight Over Marriage

Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:6).

Many Americans are frustrated by what they see as the erosion of the institution of marriage in our nation.  We like to blame the radical homosexual community for using the court system, the legislative process, and the court of public opinion to “re-define” marriage against the majority.

I began warning when the homosexual marriage debate began, and many thought it would forever be a non-issue, that the church was largely to blame for what would come next.  The debate and public struggle that’s taking place today regarding the re-definition of marriage is in large part the fault of the church.

For most of Christian history, it was the church that defined and solemnized marriages.  But not so long ago, the church in America abdicated it’s role to government.  The church surrendered it’s role and gave government the power to define marriage, decide who gets married, how people get married, who can perform a marriage, and the benefits of marriage.  Now we want to blame the government for doing what we gave it the power and right to perform.

What is marriage from a Biblical point of view?  It is a spiritual, emotional, and physical bond between one man and one woman before God, who joins them together as one.

Based on that definition, let’s suggest a few questions:

  • Can a government create a marriage?   Only if it re-defines the above definition of marriage.  If it does that, then yes, it can.  But actually, government only has the power to create a legality.  It cannot create a spiritual, emotional, or physical bond ordained by God.
  • Is marriage a legal contract?   By our definition of marriage, no.  Since government is a civil entity, the best the government can create is a civil-union.  But if government creates marriages, which the church has agreed it has the power to do, then marriage becomes a legality like setting regulations for operating a restaurant, maintaining a driver license, or a obtaining a building permit.
  • Can un-believers have a marriage by the above definition?  If a Biblical marriage is the joining of a man and woman together by God, then only Jews and Christians can be married.  Other religious groups – or even the government – can create it’s own alternative options, but marriage, by our definition belongs only to Jews and Christians.  This also answers the question of whether or not a marriage truly exists if God did not join the parties together.
  • What if one of the elements of a Biblical marriage never exists?  or if one or more of those elements ceases to exist?  If it is a man and another man, is it a marriage?  If it is a man and six women, is it a marriage?  As happened in Australia, if it is a man and his dog, is it a marriage?  If there is no Godly spiritual bond between the parties, is it a marriage?  If the relationship is nothing but a physical dependency or attraction, is it marriage?

These are all questions Christians need to address.  If we are going to “re-claim” Biblical or “traditional” marriage, the church must answer these questions with a reasoned Biblical response.  We must continue the fight at the ballot box, which is our civil right, but more importantly, we must begin to fight by asserting the spiritual primacy of marriage and reclaim our right to define and perform Biblical marriages, without government interference, as an alternative to civil-unions.  Churchianity needs to be put in a coffin and reasoned, Biblical Christianity take it’s place.

As always, your questions and comments are appreciated.


About Richard L Rice

Just an ordinary, balding, blind guy, making my way to Heaven by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone. Richard L Rice has been an ordained minister since 1986, and pastored 6 churches. A graduate of Multnomah School of the Bible (Portland, OR) and Abilene Bible Seminary (Abilene, KS), Richard is the author of numerous books, including commentaries on Matthew, Romans, the Minor Prophets, and the Pastoral Epistles of Paul. He is the pastor of a congregation in Portland, Oregon, and serves on the faculty of the Berean School of Ministry in Tala, Kenya. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife Kimberly and son Daniel. Further details about him can be found written on the pages of his blog.
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1 Response to The Fight Over Marriage

  1. Pingback: When a Volcano Erupts | CHALLENGING CHURCHIANITY

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