Sanctity of marriage

In my previous post I mentioned some of societal factors hampering good marriages.  I mentioned that we needed to get with God’s plan for marriage.  Jesus spoke about God’s intentions for marriage in Mark 10:1-12.

 Jesus reminded the religious leaders of the day that marriage was God’s plan from the very beginning by referring to Genesis 1.

In V6-8 Jesus said, “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.”

 Marriage is a creational ordinance.  Marriage was not invented, discovered, enacted by law or forced on people by the church.   God knew for humans to be happy and healthy and enjoy God’s good world, marriage is what’s needed, not cohabitation, civil partnerships or multiple-partners.  Because marriage is a creation ordinance it is good for all people, nut just Christians.

(Remember, don’t have to get married!  Marriage is not the great goal of life.  The chief goal of life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  Jesus was never married and he was the model human being.)

Definition

Marriage is the lifelong, monogamous relationship between and man and a woman.  God created man and woman to be complimentary different.  Men and women have different roles, responsibilities, strengths and weaknesses.  Marriage then joins together two people that are complimentary different.

God’s plan

Jesus speaks of God’s plan for marriage: leaving, cleaving (be united) and becoming one flesh.

Leaving

The first step in marriage is leaving the previous family unit.  We know that “leaving” does not mean moving across the country.  “Leaving” means a change of priorities.  Marriage is a shifting of responsibilities. No longer does the person have a primary responsibility to the parent, but to the spouse.  This includes all ex-girlfriends, drinking buddies and fishing friends.  Now when you have a problem, don’t go to mother or father, you go to your husband or wife!

Cleaving (“be united to his wife”)

This word gives us a picture of the permanence of marriage.   There is a joining together that takes place in marriage.  It means to be permanently glued together rather than temporarily taped together.   You can separate two pieces of wood taped together, but you cannot separate without great damage two pieces of wood glued together.   Cleaving involves unswerving loyalty to one’s marital partner.  Note that man is to cleave to “his wife”, this excludes marital unfaithfulness.   A man cannot be glued to his wife and flirt or engage in sexual activity with another woman. The two are mutually exclusive.

Accepting the Biblical standard of cleaving means asking ourselves when contemplating marriage:  Am I prepared to make a lifetime commitment to my prospective spouse, for better or for worse till death do us part?   Once married, cleaving means asking ourselves: Will this action, word, decision, or attitude draw us closer together or further apart?  Cleaving requires hard work, forgiveness, perseverance and faithfulness.

We’ve largely bought into the lie that says we will live together as boyfriend and girlfriend to see if we like it and are sexually compatible.  But often this is because guys want their cake and eat it. Why would you court a woman for marriage, when she can be sexually enjoyed without it?  Girls, your body and intimacy is too precious to give away to anyone who will not prove himself worthy.  The proof of worthiness is at the very least the marriage promise to love, protect, care for and defend you forever. 

Becoming one flesh

Note the progression: leaving, cleaving, and becoming one flesh.  As husband and wife leave lesser relationships and learn to cleave to one another, they become a new entity, “one flesh” or “one person”.  More than just sexual union, this means operating, living and making decisions as a unit.  Of course sex is the ultimate expression of this where couples give of each other for each other in the safety of a secure and permanent relationship.  Jesus said to the religious leaders,  “you ask me about divorce, I’ll tell you about marriage!”

Divorce

Jesus ends with some very sobering words (v10-12), “When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.  He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.  And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

This isn’t Jesus full teaching on divorce and other passages in Bible tell us that there are biblically permissible reasons for getting divorced, but it’s always the last resort.  What Jesus is saying is that marriage is sacred and wrongful divorce is a serious sin. 

Bottom line is: Protect your marriage.  Make sure that you are unswervingly loyal to your spouse.  Its never too late to make a fresh start.  In Mark 10 Jesus was heading south to Jerusalem were he would be violently killed for the sins of others, so we can indeed can have a fresh start.