, Muskogee, OK

April 10, 2013

THE PEOPLE SPEAK – Marriage has been redefined many times

— An important recent conversation suggests that “marriage is being redefined,” and that this is a recent phenomenon. But is it really that recent?

Traditional voices insist that marriage be founded on “biblical principles.” Sounds good to me. Let’s examine some principles. “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh,” Genesis 2:24. Jesus quoted this in Matthew 19:4-6. This implies that God’s intention is for a man to be the husband of one wife.

However, over time, the Bible has offered other principles and practices for marriage:

• May consist of a union between one man and one or more women (Gen. 29:17-28 and II Sam. 3:2-5).

• Shall not prevent a man’s right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives, (II Sam. 5:13; I Kings 11:3; and II Chron. 11:21).

• Is valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed (Deut. 22:13-21). Oddly, nothing required of the husband.

• Of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden (Gen. 24:3; Num. 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh. 10:30).

• Since marriage is for life, no laws may permit divorce (Deut. 22:19).

• Jesus spoke against remarriage after divorce, except for unchastity (Matt. 19:9)

•  Paul, expecting the imminent return of Christ, considered celibacy the wiser path (I Cor. 7:38).

Cherry-picking our favorite Bible texts is easy, but it isn’t responsible Bible study. As listed above, many texts suggest that our fathers and mothers in the Jewish and Christian faiths “redefined” marriage again and again before our generation came along. Are we following all of those principles?