Saturday, September 19, 2015

The ONLY Thing that Should Sever a Christian Marriage

{My name is Dennis Marks from Meridian, MS. I am jail chaplain at the Lauderdale County Detention Facility, affiliated with Good News Jail and Prison Ministry. I have been married to my *onliest* wife, Linda, for 31 years. We have seven children and six grandchildren with one on the way. Linda is a stay-at-home mom and we homeschool all our children. One of our favorite things is to get together every Friday night for “Family Night” for all who can come. Interesting fact: Two of our sons married sisters so all their children are double first cousins.}

What is going on in our American culture? Marriage has been “redefined” by the highest court in the land. Christians are being mocked as some have slid into deep, sinful passions and have brought disgrace to the Church and Christian families. When Josh Dugger said, “I am the biggest hypocrite!” there were probably many others who read that and were condemned by their own consciences. In case you haven’t noticed, marriage in America has been on the skids for quite some time. The LGBT…{add the rest of the letters if you care to} community is not the primary reason for the destruction of marriage in America. I believe the Christian Community has done a very good job of destroying the image of marriage for our world in very serious ways.

Kim Davis, county clerk in Kentucky, who is refusing to grant marriage licenses to “gay couples”, is herself on her fourth marriage. I really appreciate her determination to live by her convictions under a lot of pressure, but one disappointed couple quickly pointed out her disrespect for marriage by being on her fourth marriage. Kim was disturbed by that. She never really had control of the conversation after that. Thankfully, Mrs. Davis has indicated that she is sorry for her past, has repented and now desires to live according to the Word of God.

Many conservative politicians seem to have the rhetoric of preserving “traditional” marriage {one man/one woman} but taking a closer look, many have had multiple marriages themselves. How is that respecting traditional marriage? We deserve the ridicule from the heathen who say that we want only biblical marriage but we don’t respect what God has laid out for us in His Word.

You want to start a big argument on a Christian blog? Just start sharing what the Bible says about marriage and you will get some really bad feedback. You get comments: “the exception clause”, “God wouldn’t want us to be unhappy”, “We need to just forgive and move on”.

But God has a lot to say about marriage. It is THE institution that He references for showing His relationship with the Church {salvation}. The Church is the Bride of Christ and He is the Bridegroom. Christ is pictured as a husband loving his wife, paying the bridal price for her, going and preparing a place for her to live with Him in His house. Marriage reveals God’s great salvation plan. We vow to follow Christ and be faithful to Him whatever happens. We must not be found unfaithful before our spiritual consummation in Heaven or God will say, “I never knew you!” {Our relationship has not been fully consummated and you are sent away.}

So let me start the conversation. What is biblical marriage?

Ephesians 5:25-33
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Marriage cannot be divided without death. If one person physically dies, the one-flesh relationship is over. Breaking this sacred unity is like cutting yourself in half. “Two shall become one.” There is so much more in this passage.

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress:but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. {Romans 7:2-3}

Paul makes it clear that death is the only severer to Christian marriage. If a person marries another after already being married to someone else, they are committing adultery unless the first spouse dies. {It is clear that this means physical death.}

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. {Matthew 22:30}

Marriage in this life ends with death possibly because we are then actually married to God in eternity.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, 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. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives:but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery:and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, all men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
Matthew 19: 3-11

Notice that the Pharisees heard how strict Jesus’ teaching on marriage was to the extent that they wondered if it was even good to get married. Interesting to note is this peculiar “exception clause” that is only found in Matthew’s Gospel. The other two Gospels are almost exactly the same except for the obvious “except it be for fornication”. Matthew included this for a reason but not the one most people think. Matthew was primarily written for Christians coming from the Jewish culture. Jewish couples were “espoused”-something much more serious than even engagement. It was a covenant to complete the marriage process by the Marriage Supper and the consummation of the marriage vows. 

The marriage was only final AFTER the supper/consummation, not before. Remember the relationship of Joseph and Mary. If she had been found to have been unfaithful before the supper/consummation, Joseph could have provided her father with a divorce document and Mary would come to public shame. This is also a great picture of our salvation. We must be faithful to the end to participate in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb to finally consummate our relationship with Christ. If we are found unfaithful at the end, God will declare “I never knew you” {haven’t consummated our relationship because of unfaithfulness}.

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts! And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, "Why does he not?" Because 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? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. "For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless."
Malachi 2:10-16

This passage deals with those who “profaned” their marriage vows. Malachi says they were “faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers”; very serious language. Malachi declares that they should be “cut off” by the Lord from being considered part of Jacob {God’s people}. What was there offense? They were divorcing their wives.

This is only a short article on Marriage by the Book but you can see that it is serious to God how we treat marriage. We cannot afford to take it lightly. Those cultures that have strayed from God’s design for marriage have paid a heavy price.