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 Vol. 8, No. 12 

December 2006

~ Page 8 ~

What Makes a Marriage

By Jim Waldron

On the sixth day of creation God made man and woman, not like beast, but spirit beings in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), for God is Spirit (John 4:24). These new spirit creatures he clothed with flesh (see Genesis 2:7). Centuries later Jesus asked the Pharisees, "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." Jesus then affirmed, "They are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:4-6). This was Jesus' law based on the original law. God was the Creator of man and woman, and "the Creator" of marriage.

It is appropriate, therefore, that we understand the biblical rules for marriage. This needs to be done in order to know what God sanctions as marriage. The Holy Spirit declared, "marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4 NKJV). Marriage is approved of God (cf., Genesis 2:24), and the bed of marriage is right, pure and holy among all people on this planet. Singles who simply live together are committing sexual immorality (fornication). An individual who goes away from his or her own spouse to the bed of another is also committing sexual immorality (adultery). Since God affirms that marriage among all is honorable, we need to know what his rules are for a marriage to take place. He does not accept a marriage when it is in violation of his orders.

The Spirit by Malachi stated three simple requirements, which are necessary for a marriage to be acceptable to God any place on this globe. The occasion was God's refusal to accept the worship of certain Jews (Malachi 2:13). Thus they asked the prophet, "for what reason" [does God not accept our worship]?" The three requirements are found in the prophet's answer, "Because [1] the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet is she your companion and your wife by [2] covenant. But did [3] he not make them one...?" (Malachi 2:14-15).

From this text we learn concerning marriage that the first point the Holy Spirit wants men to know is that God is witness to the joining of man and woman in marriage. He witnesses the fact that the two are coming together in marriage, not for fornication or adultery. The second requirement is that a covenant be made. In the states we get a license at the courthouse, then have a preacher or other "official" perform the ceremony. In an African village a man may give three cows to the father-in-law and the couple jumps over a broom, but in both cases they covenant to marry. In India marriages are most often arranged by parents, an agreement is drawn up, a feast is held, and the bride and groom sign the covenant. The third requirement is that God makes the two one. Witnessing that the two had the right to marry as a man has the right to take the wife of his youth (see Proverbs 5:18), God makes them one (see Ephesians 5:31-32). When God has made the two one, they then have the privilege of the bed of marriage.

Having laid this foundation, let us now consider some applications of these three requirements to some marriages that raise questions around the world. In a polygamous setting a woman may be married to a man as his second, third or later wife. In this case, God witnesses the marriage, they make a covenant, but God does not make them one because he had previously joined the man to the wife of his youth. In the United States, a man may simply leave his wife, go to another state, meet another woman, and tell her nothing about having a living wife, then go with her before a Justice of the Peace to be married. God is witness to the marriage, they make a covenant, but he does not make them one, because the man has a living wife to whom God previously joined him. Not only so, but the covenant the man made with the woman was fraudulent, thus causing a rupture of the process at that point.

Another man puts away (divorces) his wife for a non-biblical reason (Luke 16:18; Mark 10:11-12; Matthew 19:9). He then meets another and they agree to marry. God is witness and the two make a covenant, but God does not join them together as one because the man in marrying another, having unscripturally put away (divorced) the wife to whom God had joined him. It is an adulterous relationship.

A woman is put away (divorced) by her husband, but not because of fornication, thus he "causes her to commit adultery and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 5:32). She meets another, and they agree to marry. God is witness to what they are doing, they make a covenant, but God does not join them. Therefore, their co-habitation is adulterous, because her husband cast a stumbling block before her (Luke 17:2), which caused her to get into that situation.

Our Lord said divorce must be, because of adultery (Gk. parektos logou porneias-"except for the cause of") He said, "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" Matthew 19:9).

The concept that an unscriptural divorce may be later regarded as having been unto adultery does violence to the words of our Lord as found in Matthew 19:9, and as he stated in the sermon on the mount. There he said, "But I say unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery" (Matthew 5:32).

Jesus affirmed that whosoever (it is universal) uses a writing of divorcement (under tribal law or court house rule) to put away his wife, "causes her to commit adultery." The Lord declared that the perpetrator of the divorce was the "culprit," not the decree or divorce paper itself. Such simply becomes the tool of his unscriptural action; and like an instrument of death used by a murderer, it brings horrible consequences even on the innocent. Again our Lord said, "Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marries her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery" (Luke 16:18). To deny this is to deny the very words of our Lord and Master.Image

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