Marriage: A Social Contract or Holy Matrimony?
by Providence Crowder
Just what are us Christians really saying when we proclaim that “we are defending traditional marriage?” Is marriage even ours to defend? The answer is yes. If we seek the Bible, our answers are found in Genesis-the written account of the origins of creation. Unlike alleged by secular groups, the creation account in the Bible is not a myth. Myths, such as the evolutionary myth, seek truth but they start with false suppositions. To trust in a myth such as evolution takes an extreme amount of blind faith, as confirmed by evolutionists most trusted sources—science and reason—which indicate that it is impossible to prove the origins of mankind. It is unknowable because it has not been observed and cannot be tested; man can merely make assumptions or “educated” guesses as to the true purposes and origins of life and humankind. Yet God declared in the Bible that we can know truth—his Word is truth—and God’s truth is verifiable and reliable. The Bible declares that “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that men are without excuse” (‘Rom. 1:20).
The Bible has reliable external evidences such as secular writings that confirm historical biblical persons and places existed (ex. Josephus, Roman Governor Pliny the Younger, Roman historian Tacitus ), artifacts that also confirm historical places and dates, and early manuscripts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls which verify that the Bible we have today has not been altered. Besides reliable external evidence, the Bible’s internal evidence gives more credence that the Bible is a valid and reliable historical document. Even so, we do not examine Scripture purely as historical inquiry, as Thomas C. Oden has noted; but rather, Scripture examines us. In dozens of instances, the Bibles authors testify that what they have written is “Word of the Lord.” The Holy Spirit confirms to believers that the Bible is the Word of God just as Scripture has claimed: “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth” (Jn. 16:13).
Furthermore, the Bible foretells of historical events with accuracy and its 40 or so authors document both eyewitness and divinely revealed events of a span covering more than 1500 years—yet it maintains perfect unity. It has withstood the test of time and fierce criticism. No other book tells of man’s creation, fall, and redemption. No other book reveals man’s purpose, his future, and his fate. The Holy Spirit, while convicting the world of sin, assures the believer that the Bible is God’s Word.
If the starting point to answer life’s complex questions do not begin and end with God, man’s answers will always be assumptions and guesses . . . seeking truth but never knowing truth. Secularists who deny the truth claims of the Bible make the Bible no less credible—no less credible than someone denying that the continent of Africa exists because they have never seen it, been there, or experienced it. Overwhelming evidence proves Africa exists!
No source but God can justly determine good from bad and right from wrong. Science, though it helps us understand how God’s created things function in nature, it gives us no answers on how they OUGHT to perform. For example, science cannot tell us that it is wrong for an adult to have a sexual interest in a three year old child. Pedophilia is an issue of morality. It is up to every individual to both trust and believe what God says—the alternative is to believe the misguided moral opinions of men and their flawed judgments. So when we look to questions such as, what is marriage? Man can only offer guesses and assumptions; God offers truth.
So, just what does the Bible say about marriage? Biblical marriage is a lifelong divine covenant between a man and woman, before an almighty God, that is consummated upon the act of sex. God commanded the man and his wife to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and rule over it” (Gen. 1:28). Man and his wife were joined for that purpose. The whole concept of marriage is of God. Marriage is an act of God’s love for his creation; it is his gift to mankind—for companionship, for procreation, for nurturing children, and to reflect Christ’s love for his Church, to the glory of God. Marriage was his idea, so all knowledge and understanding as to the purposes of the marriage covenant come from God.
So why design marriage anyways if it doesn’t fulfill the lusts of every man? What sinful man would conceive in his mind that marriage is desirable or even good? Well, Genesis reports that God instituted marriage at the beginning of human history–before the sin entered the world through the fall, before the Mosaic Law, “before the establishment of cities, nations, courts of law, or any human laws. It comes before any institution in any society, and it is foundational to the establishment of any society.” Throughout time marriage has been transformed into a socio-legal contract between consenting persons and the state because generally, men and women desire to be married; but most would rather bypass accountability and obedience to a holy God with rules and laws asserting that some intimate relationships between persons are wicked and abominable to him.
The Biblical picture of marriage perfectly depicts Christ’s love for his Church. This is the great mystery that Paul the Apostle speaks of when addressing the church at Ephesus:
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 their own body, but they feed and care for their body, 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. (Ephesians 5:22-32).
Marriage, even among believers, has been corrupted by sinful lusts. Men and women desire sexual relationships other than prescribed by God. Instances of divorce, adultery, and fornication are high, even among Christians. Yet God’s standard remains whether we adhere to it or not. God has revealed the end result of those who persist in sexual immorality:
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:24-31
Throughout both covenants in the Bible, the old and new, God had been merciful to us sinners and made provisions to deal with our sins, such as sexual immorality. For example, though stoning of adulterers was required under the old law, Jesus—the Word made flesh—prevented the stoning of an adulteress woman under the new covenant and told her to go and sin no more. Although adultery remained a sin, Jesus had put aside the practice of stoning and instead preached faith, repentance, and warned of eternal judgment. And he offered himself as the atoning sacrifice for our sins—“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
God has instilled within man a God-consciousness, a sense of purpose, a self-worth, a desire to be loved . . . Men are more than evolving cosmic accidents with no purpose for living other than to exist, survive, and die. Man has a purpose, and that purpose and destiny is rooted in Christ. God has made clear through Scripture what marriage is, and he has given us a depiction in the marriage union of the type relationship that Christ has to his own body—the Church. Just as the Church is joined to Christ, a husband is joined to his own wife, and what God has joined together, let man not separate (Mk. 10:9).
Many of the social contracts and arrangements—some call them marriages—that have been adopted through the ages profane what God has made beautiful and holy. Governments and nations that have rejected God, and have rejected his words as authoritative in moral decision making, have instead erected their own marriage laws and definitions that coincide not with God, but with cultural trends, self-interests, and popular opinions. Yet the marriage covenant is documented in Scripture as predating both the State and the Church, so one wonders why governments and peoples deem they have the authority to redefine something that was never theirs to define.
Because of our sexual immorality, children are born out of wedlock, disease is spread, guilt reigns, and we reap judgment upon our souls. The good news is: God has made a provision to deal with our sins, those such as sexual immorality, and that provision is Jesus Christ—“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:21). Through his atoning blood, we do not have to bear the shame and penalty for our sins, such as adultery and fornication. We were bought with a price—that is why we glorify God with our body and spirit, which belong to God (1 Cor. 6:20), by rejecting those things that God calls wicked.
Whether we believe or not, God still reigns and his Word is still true. So, marriage doesn’t need defending as if it has changed in any way, because marriage is still what it always has been. But because the god of this world, Satan the great deceiver, would have people ignorant, the Church has a responsibility to proclaim God’s truths and defend God’s word against satanic attacks. Matrimony remains a Christian doctrine as it has through the ages. Therefore Christians, again and again should boldly proclaim the truth concerning marriage. Marriage is much more than a social contract, it is a sacred bond; a uniting, and a joining of a husband to his wife by God and only because of God . . . it is a way in which we bring glory and honor to our creator.
1. Gary Demar, God and Government: A Biblical, Historical, and Constitutional Perspective (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2011).
2. Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis: Book 1 (Green Forest, Ar: Master Books, 2006).
3. Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis: Book 2 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008).
4. New Bible Commentary, eds., D.A. Carson, R.Y. France, J.A. Motyer, G.J. Wenham (Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity Press, 2008).
5. Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010).
6. The Apologetics Study Bible, Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, eds., T. Canbal, C. O. Brand, E. R. Clendenen, P. Copan, J.P. Moreland (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).