Wow, so, I gotta lotta cheek trying to define marriage! A few notes before we get really started. I’m not going to talk about homosexuality and marriage. I think the issue is so much larger, for Christians, that it’s not my place, as yet to address it. Is marriage a religious institution or a civic institution? That’s the question and it has plagued us for centuries because it has been both. In America, for years that didn’t matter, but now it does. It’s silly really in a state where we recognize Common Law marriage and Justice of the Peace marriages as legitimate, they aren’t religious at all. I think there is a place for both a civic marriage and a religious marriage in our culture and I think the implementation is easy, as is the practice. I do think a Christian Marriage License should have no place for ‘no-fault’ divorce and I don’t care if it grants you any tax status, if you want the Government’s blessing, get a civic license and let Churches and Ministers decide who they will and won’t marry. If Church and State are separate, our authority is separate.
Also, please note, I am not defining ‘family’ which is a much deeper and wider word than we credit as Christians. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ tried to define it a few years ago and alas, it turned out to be just more steps away from the Gospel of Grace, not deeper in. The culture we live in is the culture we live in and I would encourage you to read Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in the 29th chapter of Jeremiah, vv 1-14 and heed his advice. We cannot reach people that we have judged and condemned and God has placed us in this culture for the purpose of redemption not judgment.
So, without further discussion……
Marriage is first of all, a subset of community. What I mean is this, God saw that Adam was alone and needed help. I don’t know what Adam was doing but God said, “The dude I made ain’t right. He needs a buddy.” And so God made Eve. As different from Adam as the Moon from the Sun, and said here is your helper. Note that Eve was created first as a community, a helper, a companion, then as a wife.
Some of you will rebel at that thought, but consider. It is not God’s will that everyone marry, Jesus makes that plain here, as does Paul, here. So, if Adam and Eve are simply married, doesn’t that set up a pattern that would be contradictory to these scriptures? By no means! When the Bible seems contradictory the contradictions are in us and our understanding. No, single folk are not second class citizens that can’t minister or be a part of regular church life like they are in so many traditional protestant church settings. Nor are married folk excluded from leadership and service at the highest levels as they are in Catholic settings. Marriage is a matter of calling, but community, the fellowship of souls is a matter of life and death. God built us all for community and some of us for marriage. And so, marriage is a subset of community, not the idol it has become in many Christian circles.
This brings up a couple of things and I will finish for today. Because of the necessity of community, the invisible line we draw between singles and couples socially, intimately, and in almost every aspect of life must be erased. The line is false, my single intimate friends have things that I need and I have things in my life that they need.
Finally, marriage was not intended to meet all of the emotional and spiritual needs of the people involved. To say that implies a higher calling for single folks, which is not true. God gives us many people that we need and that need us in our journeys. So again, marriage is an intense form and subset of community. Tomorrow I will continue defining marriage and move forward.