Thursday, 16 August 2007

What is marriage?

In response to a recent illustration TL comments:
What constitutes marriage?

Does the Bible state what constitutes marriage?

Does it say to stand before a priest and say some words?

If they are living together in a committed, monogamous situation is it not marriage?

Boaz just claimed Ruth publicly and it was done. At least the story says nothing more about ceremony or priests.
While these questions are essentially rhetorical, it raises the issue of whether one needs to get married in a civil ceremony. Does God recognise a marriage that the state does not? In addressing this I wish to ask a related question, is being sexually active equivalent to marriage in God's eyes?

The Old Testament talks about couples who have sex getting married if the father of the girl consents. Given the intimacy involved and the spiritual connection that Paul alludes to I previously seriously considered whether being sexually active puts one into a covenantial relationship with the person. If that is the case one could argue that they should marry formally as they are married effectively. After reading what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4 I no longer think that sex equals marriage in God's eyes. At the well in Samaria Jesus said to the woman,
"Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true."
This comment shows that one can be living with a person and be sexually intimate yet not be married. There must be a difference between the first 5 men and the current one. She lived with and had sex with all 6 so that cannot be it. I guess one could argue that the man had not committed himself to her, which he likely hadn't, but that raises the question of how you commit.

I tend to think that one should marry in the method of the culture. This is because the institution of marriage (not necessarily the ceremony) is public. It is not gossip to share that people are married. It is societal not private knowledge. So Boaz married Ruth in the method of the day, as did Isaac who took Rebekah into his mother's tent and married her.

If the society you live in has a way of getting married and it does not involve sinning against God there is no reason not to marry using that method. That is how your spouse and society recognise that marriage has occurred. This does not mean that government has to be involved, but there are at least cultural norms.

If you find yourself on a desert island then feel free to choose how you make a marriage covenant. And if marriage ceases to exist within the society in which you live then take your vows how you wish, or let the church marry those who wish to in ways they find useful.

The important thing for Christians is that they have a biblical view of what marriage entails, and attempt to behave rightly towards their spouse; but if society views being married differently to Christians, this is not an excuse to not get married in the usual way.

5 comments:

  1. I made a similar argument here:

    http://rociburden.blogspot.com/2007/05/roots-of-marriage.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. You need to read the article "Biblical Marriage and the Woman At The Well: Reality Exposed" by Edward Ridenour.

    ReplyDelete
  3. BIBLICAL MARRIAGE and the Woman At The Well: Reality Exposed

    I have read it. I disagree with him, and even if he were right about the passage he is still incorrect equating coitus with marriage. See my comment about Old Testament Law.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi all and Sovereign bless. Wow Roci and Bethyada, I agreed with most of Edward Richenour's doctrine on marriage upon first exposure to it, but all along and like yourselves, I disagreed with his equating coitus to marriage. About a year ago, I had an epiphany on the topic of marriage which is that not just any o'le type of coitus equates to marriage by Sovereign as Mr. Richenour puts it, but only a special and specific type of coitus--virginal coitus--constitutes a marriage by Sovereign. Premise for this is Ex. 22:16, and Deut. 22:28-29. I am certain that, in order for a Sovereign-sanctioned marriage to be, the female must be a virgin, but am unsure if the male must be a virgin too although, I tend to believe that he must be one as well. The only exception to virgin coitus being the only type of coitus Sovereign considers a marriage is kinsman redeemer/Levirate marriage and widow/widower remarriage, as a widow/widower is also permitted to remarry legally before Sovereign, provided that the widow/widower has kept (him/her)self undefiled for the duration of the marriage to their deceased spouse, not having become an adulter(er/ess). All other non virgin marriages are illegitimate and are not recognized marriages before Sovereign as they are not marriages He has put together. For further civil discussion on the topic, I may be e-mailed at afarnell80@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. If either of you were to read Mr. Ridenour's teaching you would know that he doesn't advocate coitus as marriage. In the "Woman at the Well" article in question, nowhere does he make any reference to her marriages being the result of coitus. And to anonymous, if only a virgin can be married before God, why did Jesus say that anyone who puts away their present spouse and "marries" another commits adultery? Why would Jesus say that they "married" another since they were not virgins? Surely, he wasn't referring to a marriage license, because one doesn't commit adultery with a license?

    ReplyDelete

Labels

abortion (8) absurdity (1) abuse (1) accountability (2) accusation (1) adultery (1) advice (1) afterlife (6) aid (3) alcohol (1) alphabet (1) analogy (5) analysis (1) anatomy (1) angels (1) animals (10) apologetics (41) apostasy (4) archaeology (22) architecture (1) Ark (1) Assyriology (11) astronomy (5) atheism (14) audio (1) authority (4) authorship (10) aviation (1) Babel (1) beauty (1) behaviour (4) bias (6) Bible (38) biography (4) biology (5) bitterness (1) blasphemy (2) blogging (12) blood (2) books (2) brain (1) browser (1) bureaucracy (3) business (5) calendar (5) cannibalism (2) capitalism (3) carnivory (2) cartography (1) censorship (1) census (2) character (2) charities (1) children (14) Christmas (4) Christology (8) chronology (46) church (4) civility (2) clarity (5) Classics (2) climate change (39) coercion (1) community (2) conscience (1) contentment (1) context (2) conversion (3) copyright (5) covenant (1) coveting (1) creation (1) creationism (36) criminals (8) critique (2) crucifixion (12) Crusades (1) culture (4) currency (1) death (5) debate (2) deception (2) definition (15) deluge (9) demons (3) depravity (6) design (9) determinism (24) discernment (4) disciple (1) discipline (2) discrepancies (2) divinity (1) divorce (1) doctrine (4) duty (3) Easter (7) ecology (3) economics (28) education (10) efficiency (2) Egyptology (9) elect (2) emotion (2) enemy (1) energy (6) environment (4) epistles (2) eschatology (6) ethics (36) ethnicity (5) Eucharist (1) eulogy (1) evangelism (2) evil (8) evolution (13) examination (1) exegesis (21) Exodus (1) faith (22) faithfulness (1) fame (1) family (4) fatherhood (2) feminism (1) food (3) foreknowledge (4) forgiveness (4) formatting (2) fraud (1) freewill (29) fruitfulness (1) gematria (4) gender (5) genealogy (10) genetics (5) geography (3) geology (2) globalism (2) glory (6) goodness (3) gospel (3) government (18) grace (9) gratitude (2) Greek (4) happiness (2) healing (1) health (7) heaven (1) Hebrew (4) hell (2) hermeneutics (4) history (21) hoax (5) holiday (5) holiness (4) Holy Spirit (3) honour (1) housing (1) humour (34) hypocrisy (1) ice-age (2) idolatry (4) ignorance (1) image (1) inbox (2) inerrancy (16) information (10) infrastructure (2) insight (2) inspiration (1) integrity (1) intelligence (3) interests (1) internet (3) interpretation (74) interview (1) Islam (4) judgment (19) justice (23) karma (1) kingdom of God (12) knowledge (15) language (3) lapsology (6) law (17) leadership (2) libertarianism (12) life (2) linguistics (13) literacy (2) literature (17) logic (27) love (3) lyrics (9) manuscripts (11) marriage (17) martyrdom (2) mathematics (10) matter (4) measurement (1) media (2) medicine (10) memes (1) mercy (3) Messiah (5) miracles (4) mission (1) monotheism (2) moon (1) murder (5) nativity (7) natural disaster (1) naval (1) numeracy (1) oceanography (1) offence (1) orthodoxy (3) orthopraxy (4) paganism (2) palaeontology (4) paleography (1) parable (1) parenting (2) Passover (1) patience (1) peer review (1) peeves (1) perfectionism (2) persecution (2) perseverance (1) pharaohs (5) philanthropy (1) philosophy (32) photography (2) physics (18) physiology (1) plants (3) poetry (2) poison (1) policing (1) politics (30) poverty (9) prayer (2) pride (2) priest (3) priesthood (2) prison (2) privacy (1) productivity (2) progress (1) property (1) prophecy (6) proverb (1) providence (1) quiz (8) quotes (423) rebellion (1) redemption (1) reformation (1) religion (2) repentance (1) requests (1) research (1) resentment (1) resurrection (4) revelation (1) review (4) revival (1) revolution (1) rewards (2) rhetoric (2) sacrifice (4) salt (1) salvation (26) science (43) sermon (1) sexuality (16) sin (15) sincerity (1) slander (1) slavery (5) socialism (4) sodomy (1) software (4) solar (1) song (2) sovereignty (15) space (1) sport (1) standards (6) statistics (13) stewardship (5) sublime (1) submission (5) subsistence (1) suffering (5) sun (1) survey (1) symbolism (1) tax (3) technology (12) temple (1) testimony (5) theft (2) trade (3) traffic (1) tragedy (1) translation (15) transport (1) Trinity (2) truth (25) typing (1) typography (1) vegetarianism (2) vice (1) video (10) warfare (7) water (2) wealth (9) weird (6) willpower (4) wisdom (4) work (10) worldview (3)