in the purposes of God
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have a unique view of marriage. Whilst most people see it as merely
a social convention we recognise that it is part of God's purposes
for humanity which are made known to us in the Bible. The fundamental
reasons for marriage are spelt out in the marriage services of
the Church and are derived from Scripture.
The LORD God said, 'It
is not good that man should be alone' (Gen 2:18). This statement
comes in sharp contrast to all that God had declared 'good' in
His creation. Human beings need companionship, it is not good
for us to be alone. This is not something exclusive to marriage,
though it is marriage that God gives supremely for this end.
To the man and the woman God gave the command to 'fill the earth
and subdue it' (Gen 1:28). The essence of this command is later
repeated after the flood to Noah and his family (Gen 8:1). Therefore
the bearing of children is part of God's purpose and plan for
humanity and the earth. It could be argued that some style of
loose commune or interchangeable partners would equally fulfil
this command but the pattern of Adam and Eve show that it is marriage
that is in view.
As the Old Testament unfolds it also becomes clear that marrriage
signifies 'unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and
his Church' (BCP introduction to the marriage service). Indeed
this receives rich treatment in the prophets not least chapter
2 of Malachi
where the fact that marriage is a covenant is likened to the covenant
between God and His people. Therefore anything which breaks with
this plan is rebellion against God. Here are included fornication
(it is assumed in the OT that marriage will follow), adultery
(Ex 20:14), homosexuality (Lev 18:22) and bestiality (Lev 18:23).
Whilst we may not think of them as being in the same category
they are all rebellion against God. In the old covenant law code
the penalty for the last three offences is death (Lev 20:10-16).
The fact that marriage is far deeper than just a social convention
is apparent at its very instigation in Eden, 'Therefore a man
shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and
they shall become one flesh' (Gen 2:24). It is because marriage
has this depth of origin to it, grounded in God's covenant with
His people, that it is exclusive and permanent. Marriage is part
of God's purposes for humanity now. It is 'till death us do part',
but not beyond (Mk 12:25).
It is a striking fact that the clearest teaching about God's purposes
in marriage are to be found from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not only so, but he strengthens all the laws by saying that sin
comes from the heart and therefore, in relation to adultery, even
the desire is wrong (Mt 5:28).
Nevertheless, whilst Jesus so warmly endorses the place and importance
of marriage, he did not actually model it himself and said that
singleness is for some both God's purpose and calling (Mt 19:12).
Therefore whilst marriage is good, part of God's purpose and plan,
it is more 'blessed' to remain single (1 Cor 7:7,40).
Under the old covenant singleness is very definitely second best,
for the sake of the kingdom of God people were to be fruitful
and multiply, singleness threatened the covenant. Under the new
covenant this is almost turned on its head: freed from the concerns
of marriage the single person can be devoted more fully to the
Lord (1 Cor 7:32-35). Thus our marital state is secondary to our
commitment to Christ. We may add that under the new covenant we
are to fill the world with the knowledge of Christ, this is often
more easily achieved by those whose calling from God is to be
single for Christ.
Since in evangelical churches we invariably expect our Vicar to
be married with 2.4 children, in contrast to those who insist
on single 'priests', it is a constant challenge that we uphold
a proper biblical perspective, singleness is not second best.
For those to whom it is given it is very definitely best and honouring
to the Lord.
In Scripture God reveals to us His loving purposes for mankind.
In terms of sexual practice this boils down to only two options.
Either a person should remain single and chaste or they should
marry and be faithful within that marriage relationship. To any
who have rebelled from this plan we should say that you are not
alone. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. However,
sin that remains unchecked will eventually destroy us and separate
us from God, forever. To those who have found forgiveness in Christ
we recall His words, 'neither do I condemn you, go and sin no
more' (Jn 8:11). Our delight and joy should be to live in obedience
to God's will. This is never easy, in fact at times it seems all
but impossible, but by the work of the Holy Spirit countless Christians
through the ages have fought the same battles against sin and
won. If you do sin, you have one who pleads on your behalf - Jesus
Christ the righteous (1 Jn 2:1).
contents of this page are taken from an article in Cross†Way
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