SINCE THE BEGINNING - MARRIAGE IS OF GOD
Marriage was not instituted in heaven, but on earth. It is an earthly relationship decreed by Jehovah and is of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit (Genesis 2.18-24; John 1.1-5; Col. 1.15,16). It will not be carried over into our heavenly relationships with one another (Matt. 22.29,30).
Marriage is not an ordinance nor a "sacrament" of the church. Therefore, the church has no biblical right to legislate, nor exercise control over this relationship. The church may only teach what God has commanded concerning marriage. It must not go beyond these teachings, or hold back any teachings of the divine Originator and Legislator concerning marriage. The church must neither forbid the marriage of those who fulfill the biblical requisites (1 Tim. 4.3; Hebrews 13.4), nor must it command to marry (Matt. 19.10,11; 1 Cor. 7.1,2,8,32-35). Celibacy is commended, but not required. It is not for all.
There is only one correct position relative to marriage. It is that which was stated in the beginning as God spoke: "Then the Lord God said, 'it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'" Adam was inspired by the Spirit to declare: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Genesis 2.18,23,24). Jesus spoke of this beginning in Matthew 19.4-9. In verse 9 we read Jesus' conclusion of the matter: "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery." Jesus declared this to be the principle governing marriage from the beginning.
Marriage is not a matter of biblical ages, nor of religious groups or their leaders, be they Jews, gentiles, popes, preachers or elders. Marriage is of God and not of temples or churches. Any of these groups or persons who have, or do presume to allocate to their church or religious leaders the control of marriage should be both rebuked and opposed.
Marriage is not of the civil state. Marriage was instituted of God from the beginning, long before the existence of church or state. Many centuries later, Moses, representing both civil and religious jurisdiction, allowed the Israelites to divorce for almost any cause. The Pharisees, representing the Jewish church with limited civil power, asked Jesus: "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" Jesus replied, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so" (Matt. 19,7,8). Note the Pharisees said, "Moses commanded," and Jesus corrected them and said, "Moses allowed." Verse 6 of this same reference concludes the matter in the command of Jesus: "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
At the insistence of its citizens, the civil state grants divorces for almost any cause, as did Moses. The state may require medical examinations, licenses to marry, ceremonies, etc. for the legal protection of the couple and any children who may be born to them. Sometimes it may go beyond this with regulations that would make difficult or impossible the right of the betrothed to marry. Myriad are such examples, especially where a particular religious sect is recognized as the official religion of the state. In such cases the state has gone beyond what God allows and can be resisted with a good conscience toward God. Marriage is not an institution of the state, it is a divine arrangement.
Christians are to obey all laws of the state that are not conflicting with the laws of God (Rom. 13.1,2: 1 Peter 2.13-17; Acts 5.27-29). Within this context, marriage regulations should be respected.
Marriage is the decision of a man and woman to join their lives together in fidelity to one another and the establishing of a home where nurture and care is given to any children born of this union. Legal procedures, ceremonies, celebrations, etc. do not make a marriage, rather they recognize and bless the intent of the parties concerned. ¨Some religious leaders take the position that only they can bless and give validity to this union. ¨They're wrong! Others maintain that unless the state has established the marriage by a civil contract that it is not a marriage, but rather the couple is living in fornication. Even some have gone so far as to refuse baptism to such a couple until they "repent of their fornication" and have a civil ceremony. These are doubly wrong!
Assuming that the couple living together as husband and wife had no biblical impediment to their being joined in marriage, to say that without a civil ceremony that they are not married, is a recognition of the civil state's right to define what is marriage. Once we have conceded that, then logically the state's granting of divorce for any cause must be accepted. You can't take one without the other.
Another real danger in this non-biblical position is that it allows either the man or woman to opt to walk away from their partner claiming to have repented of "living in fornication" and to marry again with the blessing of their religious teachers. This is an endorsement of adultery, plain and simple. This is not hypothetical - it has been done and is being done.
Marriage is of God - not of the church nor of the state. Even the states recognize in one form or another the "matrimonio de facto, o de hecho" in Spanish countries or in English speaking countries "Common Law marriages." So let us remember, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
- Harris Lee Goodwin
La Voz Eterna, Septiembre-Octubre 1992
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