Definition of Marriage

Definition of Marriage One of the issues that arouse emotional response from many people in our culture is the subject of marriage. The gay community has brought a challenge to western culture by tying human rights to the issue of marriage, and essentially demanding that marriage be redefined to eliminate the biblical concept. The logical outcome of that change is whether there can be an absolute definition of marriage.

Since we live in a culture that is attempting to do away with absolutes, you can expect that to applied to an absolute definition of marriage. If that is the case, then many other forms of marriage will be viewed as acceptable. Polygamy (one husband, many wives) as taught by Islam and many Mormons would have to be condoned. Group marriages, polyandrous marriages (one wife, many husbands), family marriages, and any number of other things the human mind can conceive will become acceptable. There are those in our society who are willing to say that any system a person wants to engage in should be accepted by society at large because that is a basic tenet of human rights.

What is happening in the Muslim world today is a good demonstration of why this kind of thinking will not work. Various cultures practice polygamy, but Islam is the only religion that specifically sanctions it. Mohammed had five wives, and the Koran suggests that is the proper number. Osama bin Laden’s father had 52 children by 16 wives. Not all Muslims embrace polygamy just as they do not all embrace jihad. However, the Koran is very clear in sanctioning polygamy, and Muslim fundamentalists embrace and enforce it among populations where they have control. Mansour al-Nogaidan, a Saudi Arabian dissident, described his own experience in clear terms: “You can’t have a girlfriend in this society, it is too expensive to marry. As a young man, all you are thinking about is sex, so the teachers tell us, ‘Don’t worry, no need now, when you kill yourself you’ll have plenty of girls in heaven.’ “What does this practice do?

William Tucker writing in The American Spectator (June 2004, pages 50-52) summarized it, this way:

“In a society where not all men will be able to reproduce, excess males have very little social value. Therefore it is not surprising to find among this bachelor cohort three major characteristics: (1) an excess of pent-up sexual frustration, (2) an internalized sense of personal worthlessness, and (3) an extremely nihilistic-shall we say suicidal-disposition toward self-immolation and violence. Suicide bombers are easily recruited in these ranks.”

Some people maintain that all religions are equal and that there should be no discussion of why one religion might be in error while another is correct. They should look logically at where the teachings of various religions lead. The gay marriage issue may not produce a gender imbalance, but it does lead to other consequences. The most fundamental problem is that if the definition of marriage changes according to everyone’s personal rights, then marriage becomes meaningless.

The Christian system clearly identifies the concept of marriage as one man one wife for life. That is the ideal and what God intended from the beginning. Polygamy was allowed in the Old Testament, but it was a human modification, not God’s original plan. Genesis 2:24 clearly states that a “man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [not wives], and they become one flesh.” In the New Testament there is a clear definition of marriage in these terms, and even commands that husband and wife should not separate for any significant time to avoid passion leading to adultery (see 1 Corinthians 7:4-9).

The logic of God’s definition of marriage is clear. A stable marriage between a man and a woman leads to the birth of children who are raised in intact families leading to a healthy society. Since babies are born in roughly equal sexual numbers, there should essentially be a mate for every human. Everyone has the potential right to sexual and emotional fulfillment in marriage according to God’s design. Changing the definition of marriage will ultimately bring misery and unhappiness to humans. All other options lead to disease, problems for children, abuse, and chaos for society. The Christian institution of marriage according to God’s plan is a great apologetic for the validity of the Christian system.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

God’s Dwelling Place

God's Dwelling Place
People have constructed massive structures and religious places of worship to get in contact with God. Islam has Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammad with the Kaaba being the “House of God.” Buddhism has its shrines with the five elements–fire, air, earth, water, and wisdom. Bahai followers have their temples with the oldest one near Chicago, Illinois. Hindus have their “mandir” temples with the world’s largest one in the New York City metro area. The Mormons have the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City while Catholics have the Vatican. All of these cost a great deal of money, and all of them are geographically limited and impersonal. None of them are consistent with the biblical teachings for Christians. Where is God’s dwelling place?

Jesus made it clear that a new relationship was coming with the advent of Christianity. When Christ spoke with the Samaritan woman in John 4:20-24, He indicated that there would be no single place for worship. Peter in Acts 2:16-21 quotes Joel 2:28-32 in observing how worship of God and the presence of God was changing. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19 we read that our bodies are now the “temple of God.” Ephesians 3:17 indicates that Christ dwells in the hearts of Christians based on love. Galatians 4:4-6 tells us that God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.

The Church is people, not places. It can meet anywhere, under any conditions, with no expense or construction or long pilgrimage required. The Church we read about in the Bible did not own a temple or a house of any kind. When we read Acts 2:46 we see Christians meeting from “house to house.” The disciples met in an “upper room,” and they even met in the Temple (Acts 3:1). There is no justification for spending millions of dollars on a physical place to meet while people starve or freeze to death within sight of the structure.

In Acts 17:22-31 Paul talks to the leaders of the day about God’s dwelling place. In verse 24 he told them and us that God “does not dwell in temples made with hands.” He then told his listeners that people “feel after God and try to find him though he is not far from every one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being” (verses 27 and 28). Paul told them they should not think of God as something made by art and human design. He calls on them to repent (verse 30).

Atheists attack the abuses of religion and the waste of religious acts, and much of their criticism is valid. Humans do silly, wasteful things, but that has nothing to do with what the Bible teaches us about God. God’s dwelling place is not in our structures but in us. That fact should affect our lives as we understand what He calls us to do with what He has given us.
–John N. Clayton © 2017