In our culture today there is a monumental clash of opinions concerning the institution of marriage. The church needs to be aware of it; Christians need to be taking it very seriously!
There are those, speaking from a purely secular point of view, who insist that human beings, over the course of many centuries, have devised different ways of organizing society. Moreover, these different ways have quite naturally evolved; and somewhere in the process, something that we now call marriage
appeared on the scene. But these people say that marriage, as it now exists, clearly is not working! They cite, of course, the high incidence of divorce; and as we all know, many people who don’t divorce are locked into a marriage that is loveless and joyless. But, they cheerily add, “Don’t worry about it because, as we know, over the centuries, better solutions to human dilemmas have evolved, so we can expect to see alternative lifestyles evolving! We should embrace them because they will be a marked improvement!”
A lot of people probably could not articulate this theory, but they are certainly learning to put it into practice! Divorce has become normative, multiple marriages are not at all unusual, and large numbers of people are not getting married at all—and these “improvements” are being heralded as sociological advances. Many children are being born “out” of what we used to call wedlock
, and that which was regarded with disfavor not too long ago is now accepted by a large segment of our society.
What is the alternative view? The traditional (and biblical) view is: Marriage is not an idea devised by human ingenuity that is progressing to superior lifestyles through an evolutionary process, but marriage is a divine principle, part of the created order. Marriage is a creation principle. It is based on this fundamental, ancient statement: “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother, and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh! So they are no longer two, but one! Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate!” (Mark 10:6-9
The clashing opinions are plain to see. Do we simply say that marriage is a human idea, predicated on human ingenuity, going through an evolutionary process and as it hasn’t worked we’ll move on to alternate lifestyles? Or do we say that marriage is a divine idea predicated on creation principles, as fundamental and vital to human well-being as natural laws are fundamental and vital to the orderly survival of the planet? The church needs to decide where it comes down on the issue, not just in theory but in practice!
Of course, if we insist on the biblical view of marriage in the churches, there is a great need for us not only to defend it but we must practice it in such a way that people will not be able to say, “Marriage doesn’t work.” Because when done God’s way, marriage most emphatically does