Back to Basics
What would we find if we could go back to the beginnings of marriage? It’s increasingly believed that marriage is nothing more than a human idea. We ourselves invented it. We are totally free, therefore, to make our own rules for it. Should a marriage be for life? That’s up to us. Should it be just between a man and a woman? Our right to choose.
The very first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, has been called the book of origins. It does what no other book in the world does. It takes us back to earth’s earliest days and shows us the beginning of things – including the beginning of marriage. What do we find? Marriage is actually God’s idea, not ours. He was the one who established it and he has laid down certain rules for it.
We learn, for example, that it is intended to be between a man and a woman. Throughout the Bible, homosexual relations are forbidden and condemned. For that reason the question of same-sex marriage, so hotly debated today, ought not to be even raised. Nothing could be more contrary to the will of our Maker.
Marriage is also intended to be permanent. Christians do differ over the question of when a divorce is permissible (though there is substantial agreement that it is permissible in the case of marital unfaithfulness). But there is no disagreement as to what our Creator’s wish is. Marriage is to be “till death us do part”. And when instead a marriage fails, it is always through sin on the part of the husband, the wife, or both.
Marriage is the one setting in which there is to be sexual union. How out of date does that sound? Sex before marriage, sex with someone other than your spouse after marriage, sex with someone of the same gender – aren’t we free to decide for ourselves? Not according to our Creator. He is certainly no prude. Sex is for pleasure and by his design. But strictly within the context of a husband and wife relationship.
And of course, as an inevitable follow on from that, it is exclusively within the setting of a marriage that children are to be born. Our Maker has established an order: first the creation of a secure and loving environment through a man and a woman entering into a life-long commitment to each other. Then the parenting of children.
A great deal of today’s discussion about marriage focuses on human rights. If our thinking and practice are to be correct, however, we need to begin with God’s rights. After all marriage is his institution. He has a right, therefore, to set the rules. And he has done so. Our duty is accordingly straightforward: follow the Maker’s instructions.
That is also our wisdom. Violating the will of God for marriage always has negative consequences – for the individuals concerned, for children, for society as a whole. We cannot disregard the Maker’s instructions with impunity. But the reverse is also true. God gave us marriage for our good and for our happiness. When it is honoured in society, protected by law, and our whole approach to it shaped by his will, we may confidently expect his blessing.