There are many things in this world for which we humans have freedom to come up with different design. Transportation is one. If you can design a vehicle that takes people safely from one place to another with greater efficiency, you can make a name for yourself. Mousetraps are also negotiable. You know the saying. “If you can design a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” You can apply this principle to almost any thing, but when you start talking about human relationships, there is a higher authority who must be consulted. God has spoken clearly about marriage, and any confusion about marriage’s design reflects a problem with man’s heart, not with God’s word. A letter to the editor in the Times-News of Burlington this week by a pastor, Rev. Daniel Kuhn, made it sound like the Bible is all over the map on marriage, and that there is no plan, no word from God on this basic institution. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just to encourage good biblical interpretation, let me say this: we must not judge or discard the clear principles of God’s Word because of man’s violation of them.
Here is Rev. Kuhn’s letter:
Standards of marriage in the Bible raise questions
Religious proponents of N.C. Constitutional Amendment One base their arguments on “Biblical standards of marriage” (Open Forum, April 24). If they do, we are in deep trouble.
The Biblical standards of marriage are quite a mess. As far as we know, Jesus never married. According to Matthew 8:14, Peter had a wife, but was pretty much an absentee husband.
The following are the Biblical standards of marriage:
Abraham, the had concubines in addition to his two wives Sarah and Keturah (Genesis 25:1-6). (A concubine is a woman with whom one has a regular sexual relationship.)
Jacob had at least two wives, Leah (Genesis 29:23) and Rebecca (Genesis 29:28).
David, the great king of Judah and later of a united Israel and who was an ancestor of Jesus, was given Michal as a wife by her father, King Saul (1 Samuel 18:27). In addition to her, he married Abigail, widow of Nabal (1 Samuel 25:39-42), then married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and then Bathsheba the widow of Uriah whose murder David had manipulated (2 Samuel 11:27).
King Solomon, whom we are accustomed to calling “wise,” is reported to have had at least seven hundred wives (1 Kings 11:2).
Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:2, promised a whole church full of people to Jesus in marriage!
It is quite a leap from these Biblical definitions of marriage to saying it is only between one man and one woman.
Religious proponents of Amendment One tell us who can marry and who cannot, and their argument is not based on the Bible. Rather, it comes from the arrogant doctrinal certitude of the southern white conservative church, the same arrogant certitude that defended slavery, split denominations, instigated the Civil War, and brought us Jim Crow laws. It is time this dividing hatred is ended.
We all would do far better if we based our actions and words on the one commandment that Jesus gave: “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
I have voted against Amendment One and in favor of Jesus’ love.
Here is the rest of my response:
The foundational truth about marriage is found in the second chapter of Genesis and during the first days after creation. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” God had just created the first woman, Eve, by putting Adam to sleep and fashioning a woman from one of his ribs. It was from this first marriage that mankind was born. Eve is the mother of all. Notice also in this foundational passage on the family that there is paternity and maternity, a father and a mother, the basic building block of civilization. Are there variations of that family unit in the Bible? Yes, for example when a woman is left alone through death, divorce or desertion, the family unit is altered. But life’s circumstances do not change God’s design for marriage and family.
This design for marriage is repeated by Jesus himself in the New Testament. The Pharisees wanted to know if a man could divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus answered them by asking why they did not know the foundational principles of marriage since they were supposedly the religious leaders of the nation. “Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’”
Paul repeated the design for marriage in Ephesians. He quoted the verse from Genesis that Jesus had quoted, and then added this astounding statement: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The union of one man, the groom, with one woman, his bride, is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Jesus was never married on earth, not because marriage can be defined any way that pleases us, but because it was not the right time. The greatest celebration the world will never see will take place when Jesus Christ is told by the Father to go and receive His bride, the church. The multitude in heaven will cry out, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come…”
Marriage is God’s idea, and His design works. We follow it to His glory and our delight. We alter it, and teach others to do so, at great risk.