Monday, November 19, 2012

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage is a sacred sacrament between man and woman. Marriage was given to mankind from the Lord and it is a promise between man and woman. That promise to each other, God, and all those present during your ceremony is not to be broken. The meaning behind marriage is given to us by the Lord. The purpose of this writing is to explore the meaning of marriage, what does it say in God's word about marriage, when does the Bible consider a couple married and how that differs from today’s time, what the Biblical teaching is on divorce, some objections to the reason for divorce, if it is acceptable for a Christian to re-marry, and what the social impact of divorce is in the church and in society.

The Bible teaches us that marriage was given to us by God. Some debate that marriage started with the making of Eve when God stated in Genesis 2:18 “...It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (NIV) This is the first time that God has blessed a union between man and woman. God made a woman to be the man's helper, because He saw it was not good for man to live life on his own. As you read the Bible, marriage grew to be less and less God's gift to mankind and more about marrying for politics, lust or convenience. There were requirements placed on marriage. It was common in Old Testament times to marry within immediate family group, but there were requirements to stay within. Such as marrying cousins was fine. People were limited to certain members of the family, such as in Leviticus 20:17 it says “If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace...”(NIV) According to Walter A. Elwell “It was not until early Christian times that marriage came to be regarded as a sacrament.” But what does the Bible say about when the couple actually become married?
Often in Bible times a spouse was chosen for their children by the parents. Often, the children had no say in who they were going to marry. There was no chance to court, date or get to know the individual they were going to marry. There was usually something called a "bride-price" that varied in value. The parents of the soon to be groom would give a gift to the soon to be bride that the bride would keep going into the marriage. If the gift was acceptable, the parents would make a legally binding contract of marriage. In Biblical times, that is when you would be betrothed. The way that marriage works today is that the man and the woman will find each other, court each other and then marry; with the parents having very little say on who their children marry. This can be a good thing so that spouses get to know each other, but it can also become a bad thing to where the couple will make decisions through lust or convenience which can cause issues such as divorce.

Divorce in the Bible is not mentioned much. But when it does mention divorce, it gives very strict requirements. You don't see many divorces in the Old Testament because it was very expensive and available only to those with wealth. Usually the only means for divorce was sexual misconduct, which even that is debated among theologians today. In the New Testament the word teaches us that the only reason for divorce is a word called “porneia” which according to is translated in the Old Testament to have had “strong associations with harlotry.” Many Christians in New Testament time and the Church Age (today) consider this strong sexual immorality such as adultery or selling your body. However, in today's age it seems like you can get a divorce even if you look at your spouse the wrong way. Many people today get married on a whim, and never fall in love. Many see marriage as not a covenant but as a tax break, or someone to spend some time with. We see many people in Hollywood that get married and are divorced months, or in some cases days later. The only case I believe it is alright to re-marry is if your previous spouse committed adultery and had to divorce, in many abuse cases that cannot be resolved by counseling or seperation, or the spouse has passed away.

The divorce rate in our country has caused a major shift in spiritual and mental dynamic. Kids are being raised in homes without original parents, and that is not how God planned families. Kids grow up to think that their mom left dad, so it must be ok for me to do the same. The church is making more and more reasons why divorce is ok, so couples will seek out the church that will grant them that divorce or anullment. My goal as a Christian is to support strong Biblical views on Marriage and the covenant between my wife and I.

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