- Marriage is held by some as a sacrament and others at least think it should be a church thing. Depending on who you ask, or rather, who answers, marriage became a sacrament of the church in the 11-12th century. Before that it wasn’t. “Sacrament” is one of those words that means different things to different people. For me sacrament means “something you do in church to make God like you more.” More cynically, sacrament to me means, “A way for the church to get money out of people.” Marriage has nothing to do with church. It is not a means of grace. Most marriages occurring in church do nothing but trivialize the church, the Gospel, and Jesus Christ. As a pastor, I am about done doing weddings and would be perfectly fine if everyone just went to the courthouse, filled out the paper work, and then went home and had a barbecue with friends. I have suggested this to every couple that has come to me to get married.
- Although we assume marriage is a huge deal, the Bible actually says very little about it. Ephesians 5 makes it clear that marriage should be held up highly as a picture of the Gospel. But it makes no mention of the church being involved. Nor does it give pointers about how to go about finding someone to marry. What it does say is wives should submit to their husbands and husbands should give their lives for their wives, which no one hardly agrees with anymore let alone does.
- Giving biblical advice on marriage is a can of worms. A can few realize exists until they’ve accidentally opened it. For God, you are married to whomever you have sex with. That’s why Jesus said marrying a divorced person is adultery. That’s why there is warnings about joining your body to a prostitute.
- Biblical Marriage sounds awful nice until you realize what the Bible says. What God has joined together, let no one put asunder. The “joined together” bit means the sexual relationship. That is what consummates marriages. That’s why the Old Testament (which is part of your Bible) says if a guy rapes a woman, he should take her home and have her as a wife. Yup. In traditional Jewish weddings, the wedding party would involve taking the couple to the marriage bedroom. They would then wait for the couple to consummate their marriage and then come back out and resume the party. I am eternally grateful this part of the wedding ceremony has been dropped. I say we should drop the rest of it.
- Since the sexual union of a man and a woman is what makes you married in God’s eyes, there can be no such thing as “gay marriage” anyway.
- Since the sexual union of a man and a woman is what makes you married in God’s eyes, divorce is a very big deal. So is promiscuity of any sort. Although our culture has sufficiently watered down these sins, I doubt God has changed His mind any.
- Getting marriage advice from the Bible may be asking more than you realize. Rarely do people bring up 1 Corinthians 7:29, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.” We have turned the Bible’s teaching on marriage into “Make sure you have date night.” Oy. I imagine this verse means something and every married couple would be well served to figure out what.
- The exchange of marriage vows is damning. Do some study on vows in the Bible. Making a vow and not keeping it is held up by God as a very bad thing. God does what He says. Not doing what you say, and going the extra step by including God in the vow, is a serious offense to God. Do not rashly make vows before God. Your broken vows will be brought up on Judgment Day.
- Thank God for grace. Thank God for mercy. Thank God for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have failed in your marriage, or have been promiscuous, there is forgiveness. There is mercy. Let this humble you and help you go and sin no more.
- Marriage is a picture of the Gospel. Be careful about entering into it. When we ruin marriage, we hinder the reflection of the Gospel. There is a weight of responsibility in representing the relationship between Christ and His Church. I do not see the seriousness understood in our day.
CLARIFICATION ADDED LATER:
Since several people have contacted me about this post with the same impression, obviously I am not communicating properly. I am not saying that you just have sex with someone to be officially married. There are two views of marriage that are being covered here: our view and God’s view.
Since Christians are to submit to the laws of the land and are to provide things honest in the sight of all people, they should get legally married before sexual relations. What I do see in the Bible consistently, and also as illustration of Christ’s relationship with the church, is that there should be an engagement and there should be some sort of wedding celebration involving food. There should be no sex until after an officially recognized marriage.
At the same time, the reason why the Bible puts so much stress on sexual sin is because in God’s eyes, whoever you have sex with you become one with, in essence married to. Two becoming one is the essence of marriage. Our term monogamous is from the Greek (gamos is the Greek verb typically translated marriage in the NT) and literally means married to one, yet we use this mainly to denote sex with one. Sex with multiple people, or outside the bonds of a marriage, makes a mockery of the Gospel that it is to illustrate.
I see nothing in the Bible that the church should be included in a wedding. The church can be involved if both people understand the Gospel/marriage connection. But too many pastors and churches are being used as patsies, making a mockery of the church, Christ, and the Gospel by doing insincere weddings. This is yet another place where the church has compromised itself for the sake of money and importance.
People who have a light view of marriage (who don’t see it as a reflection of the Gospel), should probably skip the vow bit, especially vows in a church (presumably before God). Doing vows is simply adding another layer of sin to their marriage they don’t plan on keeping anyway. Vows are a serious deal and every couple planning on doing vows should be warned beforehand about what the Bible says about vows and breaking them. I would rather a couple be terrified of vows than take them lightly.