What is marriage? Why do we still hold it sacred?

One of the biggest disappointments in recent years was the Supreme Court's 2015 decision regarding marriage and the subsequent overruling and changing of state laws that had been written to protect traditional marriage. And so, once again, I include a reminder of what real marriage is in comparison to what it has become under the laws of civil governments.

Governments view marriage as a civil union involving rights and privileges which can also legally be dissolved or annulled. The civil union is related to legal issues involving children and child custody, property and financial responsibility, contracts, taxes, and other decision-making. Governments are now granting marriage and its privileges and protections to same-sex couples and maybe soon to more than two individuals in polygamous relationships. But true marriage, though a civil institution for this world, is a much richer union than what most governments and people make of it in our day.

What I am advocating here is looking at how God, the creator of marriage, defines it rather than letting civil governments define it for us.

The Bible teaches that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman and that marriage was instituted by God and is entered by mutual consent and promise.

God's design and institution of marriage are recorded in Genesis 2:18-25: "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."

God created the woman for the man and brought her to the man to be his wife. And it is for that reason that a man, even yet today, leaves his father and mother and is joined with his wife to become a new family unit.

When questioned about the legitimacy of divorce, Jesus answered (Matthew 19:4-6): "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

Since Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph but had not yet come together with him, is called Joseph's wife in Matthew 1:18-25, we see that marriage is entered by mutual consent and promise. Marriage is for this life only and does not continue into the life to come (cf. Romans 7:1-3; Luke 20:27-38; Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

God's Word also teaches that it is a sin to violate the marriage union by unfaithfulness, divorce, or desertion.

Jesus said, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6).

Jesus also said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery" (Mark 10:11-12; cf. Matthew 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Exodus 20:14; Malachi 2:14-16).

The writer to the Hebrews says, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).

With Scripture, God's children also condemn as sin fornication (sexual relationships and activities outside the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman), as well as sodomy, homosexuality and bestiality (Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

Certainly, America needs to repent of its rejection of Biblical and traditional marriage and return to the truth. But, more importantly, we as individuals need to repent of living contrary to God's purpose and design for marriage and look to Christ Jesus for mercy and forgiveness, as well as help and strength to amend our lives and live in accord with the truth.

Followers of Christ seek to live according to God's definition of marriage, revealed to us in the Bible, even if governments and the rest of the world redefine marriage to fit their own corrupted views.

Randy Moll is the managing editor of the Westside Eagle Observer and also the pastor at Merciful Savior Lutheran Church in Rogers. He may be contacted by email at [email protected]. Opinions expressed are those of the author.