MARRIAGE

A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

Presented at The Halifax Rally for Marriage

West End Baptist Church, Halifax

April 9th A.D. 2005

By The Reverend Lewis H. How

 

Good evening everyone, and thank you for coming to this rally in support of marriage. I have been asked to address our topic of marriage from a Biblical    perspective. 

 

I would like to offer, for your consideration, the following overview of this great Biblical subject in the hope of showing the honour and importance God has attached to it in His Holy Word.

 

I have divided my talk into three main manifestations of God’s will: [1] THE AUTHORITY OF MARRIAGE [2] THE MYSTICAL NATURE OF MARRIAGE and [3] THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE.

 

[1] THE AUTHORITY OF MARRIAGE: In the present state of our cultural chaos, the Institution of marriage is being treated as a political football whose true purpose is undermined by a government who would have us believe that it is a civil right in need of redefinition.

 

Twenty centuries ago the Lord Jesus Christ defended the sanctity of marriage against arguments aimed at discrediting its integrity, with the words: “…but from the beginning it was not so.” Matthew 19:8

 

We may look for the foundational authority of marriage then, in the place where Jesus defended it, Genesis, the book of beginning. It is here revealed that mankind was made to be in the image of its creator and echo the great mystery of the Trinity in its nature. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: Genesis 1:26 “So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; MALE AND FEMALE created he them.” Genesis 1:27 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Genesis 1:28

 

Here is the FOUNDATIONAL AUTHORITY of MARRIAGE; By nature TWO UNEQUAL PARTS of the SINGLE CREATURE that are ORDAINED OF GOD to be, by their complimentary difference, the means by which human life renews itself.

 

[2] THE MYSTICAL NATURE OF MARRIAGE: From the beautiful words in the opening exhortation to the solemnization of Marriage in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, we learn that the Church has always recognised a mystical component in the nature of marriage. “Matrimony” it professes, “…is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union betwixt Christ and His Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his, and first miracle at Cana of Galilee;”

 

The Genesis account of creation reveals man’s innocency at the time of God’s Institution of Marriage, thus establishing it as a perfect relationship between God and humanity. In contrast to this the mystical role of marriage is concerned with the salvation of Fallen mankind.

 

Saint John unfolds this mystical role for marriage through the events at the marriage at Cana in the second chapter of His account of the Gospel. “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee.” John 2:1 There is a counting of four days in the first chapter in verses 15, 29, 35 and 43 prior to these three days so that seven days in total are recorded, drawing a parallel to the seven days of Creation in Genesis. John also calls Jesus the WORD which is another parallel the story of Creation in that God effected Creation by His WORD: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:” Genesis 1:26

 

The Old Testament thus speaks of the first Creation while New Testament refers to the New Creation in Jesus Christ.

 

The Marriage at Cana is then, an ALLEGORY for the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ: a showing forth of the Gospel by way of the Institution of Marriage.

 

Now of course the Gospel or Good news is the Biblical Revelation of God’s restoration of mankind through Jesus Christ from the Fallen and hopeless state of sinfulness brought about by Adam’s rebellion of in the Garden of Eden.

 

The Marriage at Cana joins the creation story with the story of Salvation. The word CANA has a double meaning from the Hebrew “to create and to purchase.” In the beginning God joined man and woman together in marriage echoing His own plural unity of three persons in one God: the man and woman forming one humanity.

 

In the restitution of all things Jesus Christ PURCHASES fallen mankind ON THE CROSS. This is sometimes called the ATONEMENT, meaning made to be at one or in unity with God.

 

Now recall that at the wedding in Cana there were six water pots at the after the purification of the Old Testament. Recall also that they were partially spent. These signify in John’s Allegory the failure of man to keep the Law of Righteousness given to mankind by God through Moses. What does Jesus do with the pots? He fills them up to the brim to signify that He has fulfilled the Law of Righteousness in His own life. Recall His own words: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matthew 5:17

 

Then having filled the pots with water Jesus proceeds to turn the water into wine in a great gesture to the Holy Communion of His Body and Blood commemorating His act of salvation on the Cross. John thus reveals Jesus Christ to be the fulfilment of the law and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. This ALLIGORICAL witness to Salvation in Jesus Christ is set in a Marriage to signify “the mystical union betwixt Christ and His Church:” for just as man and woman were one flesh together in their innocency at Creation: even so are sinners made one again with God by faith in Christ.

 

The Prophet Hosea also used marriage as a metaphor for the promise of redemption in Christ. Referring to Israel’s infidelity toward God, the prophet spoke of a time of renewal:  “And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, [that] thou shalt call me Ishi[husband]; “and shalt call me no more Baali.”  Hosea 2:16 “And I will betroth[that is marry] “thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.” Hosea 2:19

 

The culmination of the Mystical marriage between Christ and His Church is shown forth in the Bible’s last book, The Revelation:  “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife” [the Church] “hath made herself ready.”  Revelation 19:7 Clearly then, marriage is a vehicle by which the Bible expresses the bond between mankind and God in both the old and new Creation.

 

Finally, let us consider the third manifestation of God’s will in marriage: [3] THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE: Again the Book of Common Prayer exhorts us to embrace the three Biblical purposes of marriage: [1] “It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.”

We have already established the purpose of procreation in the discussion of the mystical nature of marriage: but the Bible adds to this an admonition to rear children in a relationship with the Lord: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 The Godly rearing of children is bound in the Word of God to the natural parents. 

 

The second Biblical purpose of marriage, expressed in the Book of Common Prayer establishes that: [2] “It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication:”

 

“Flee fornication:” Paul Says “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 1Corinthians 6:18 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1Corinthians 6:19

 

The Bible is clear that human sexuality was created as the divine purpose for marriage, so that a man and a woman could realize their procreative purpose in a mutual joy that is protected from harm by the their life long commitment to one another. Sexually transmitted diseases and hearts broken through infidelity are direct results of ignoring God’s purpose for human sexuality. This is an unwanted message in an age such as ours, which is committed to gratuitous sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage and nature.

 

 Thirdly, the Book of Common Prayer exhorts us to embrace that Biblical purpose of marriage which states that [3]“It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.”

 

Again, we turn to the Book of Genesis for an explanation concerning God’s purpose of mutual help and society between husband and wife: “But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:20 “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof:” Genesis 2:21 “And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” Genesis 2:22 “And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Genesis 2:23 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

 

The great Biblical commentator Matthew Henry spoke fondly concerning this passage from Genesis saying:

 

“That the woman was not made out of Adam’s head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

 

My friends in Christ: God has ordained a great purpose in His first Institution of Holy Matrimony. He has ordained it to be the place where love, security and mutual respect ought to flourish between a man and a woman; He has ordained it to be the only place for sexual relations free from the consequences of sexual improprieties and promiscuity: He has ordained it to be the place into which children may be born and raised in love and the fear of the Lord: and He has set in its midst the symbols of that mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His Church through the Gospel of Salvation. Let us praise Him and worship His with thanksgiving for this His precious gift. And let us defend God’s gift of marriage with love and courage against the forces that are now actively working to destroy it.