finding truth matters

Marriage

by | Jul 29, 2010 | articles | 0 comments

Related articles: [The Marriage Circle] [About Same-Sex Marriage]

If you want to increase your chances of being happy, wealthy, and healthy, get married! This is not some random wishful sentiment. The evidence is clear- people who are married are far more likely to enjoy these blessings than either single people, or co-habiting (de-facto) couples, but especially more so than divorced people.

Marriage is the formal union of a man and a woman for life. It is far more than a social contract (the result of society’s pressure to conform). Marriage exists in every culture, every era, and every religion. In this sense it can be shown that marriage is both original (from the very beginning of human existence) and natural (it has always been). Recent sociological studies into marriage have shown that it produces quite different and definite social and health outcomes to the alternatives of being single or co-habiting – and markedly different health outcomes to that of being divorced.

The list of measurable benefits to those who are married compared to those who cohabit or divorce include-

    • less domestic violence,

    • longer life spans,

    • physically healthier children,

    • increased earning capacity,

    • improved wealth accumulation,

    • decreased likelihood of relationship cheating,

    • mentally healthier, happier, stronger parent-child bonds, and

    • a more fulfilling sex life.

These are a summary of findings by University of Chicago Professor, Linda J. Waite in her book, ‘The Case For Marriage (Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially’, Linda J. Waite & Maggie Gallagher, Doubleday, New York, 2000) 

Marriage is not only the union of a man and a woman for life, it is also to the exclusion of all others. This means that monogamous marriage is quite different to polygamy (multiple wives) or an unfaithful marriage (where adultery is occurring). Marriage is therefore the commitment of a man and woman in a unique way. It is not like other commitments. It enables certain benefits to be enjoyed that other forms of relationships cannot enjoy. This includes-

  • extreme sexual fulfilment, 
  • deep psychological / emotional / spiritual connection, and 
  • realisation of certain inner cravings for meaning and purpose, 

that other statuses, such as co-habiting or casual sexual activity, are unable to facilitate.

But marriage is not just the formal union of a man and a woman for life to the exclusion of all others, it is also a covenant. A covenant is the highest commitment that two people can make to each other. It involves a ceremony, witnesses, and a celebration. 

COVENANT ELEMENT #1, THE CEREMONY

In Western cultures, a couple agrees to marry and forms a preliminary commitment called an Engagement. In ancient Oriental cultures, this commitment to marry may not have necessarily been arranged by the couple. But once entered into it differed in one very marked way to our modern Western concept of an Engagement. This ancient Oriental commitment was called a Betrothal. Unlike an Engagement, a Betrothal could not lightly be broken. In fact, breaking a Betrothal was akin to divorcing. However, both the ancient Betrothal and the modern Engagement was the precurser to the marriage ceremony. The ceremony, which we refer to as a wedding is where formal vows are exchanged. These vows are pledges of lifelong love, devotion and faithfulness to each other, officiated by a minister who serves to mediate God’s grace to the couple. In most modern wedding vows, couples vow to “honour” each other. Nearly every instance of marital breakdown would be prevented if couples simply honoured this vow to honour each other! 

COVENANT ELEMENT #2, WITNESSES

This covenantal ceremony is witnessed. These witnesses are no mere spectators to the wedding, they declare formally and legally to society what this couple has done. They can support the couple’s commitment and help to guard them against forces which seek to undermine their marriage.

COVENANT ELEMENT #3, THE CELEBRATION

After the wedding covenant is enacted, there is a two-stage celebration.

The first stage is a feast where the couple and guests celebrate the wedding covenant eating a meal together. Eating is at the heart of fellowshiping with others. This meal is an acknowledgement by the community that they now recognise these two people as a covenant couple. 

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Hebrews 13:4

The second stage of the celebration is where the couple consummate their marriage through the act of marriage (sexual union). Sex is not a merely physical act. It is a sacred activity. It engages a husband and wife physically, mentally, and spiritually. Interestingly, the Greek word for ‘soul’ is psuche from which we get our modern word psychology. Sexual activity has the potential to cause immense psychological damage. We readily recognise this in rape and pedophile victims but we are less able to recognise psychological harm caused by “casual” sexual activity. 

 

THE ORIGIN OF MARRIAGE

There is myth that marriage is the result of ‘social evolution.’ That is, it has evolved through societal pressures over many generations. This actually raises an unexpected argument for the validity of marriage since even this idea acknowledges that marriage is the best social unit for a society. But, anthropologically, it can be shown that marriage is original, ubiquitous, and natural. The reason for this is that it was established with the creation of the first man and woman. When God created Adam, He declared, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He then created Eve from Adam and brought her to him with the words- 

 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Genesis 2:24-25

Notice how God referred to Eve? He used the word “wife.” This was the first wedding. It had all of the elements of a covenant. There was a ceremony, a witness, and a celebration. This is God’s design and plan for a couple. This is why marriage is both natural and original.

 

ISN’T MARRIAGE JUST A PIECE OF PAPER?

“We don’t need all that covenant stuff. After all marriage is just a piece of paper!”

Many co-habiting couples greatly underestimate the value of a covenant as the basis for a relationship with their partner. They might argue that because they ‘love’ each other, that’s all that’s needed for them to be together. But because this couple wants to be sexual active with each other they should consider that sexual union is the highest form of physical love between a man and woman and should therefore demand the highest commitment between a man and a woman. What is the highest form of commitment between a man and a woman? A Marriage Covenant is. It is not just a piece of paper!

In twenty-five years of pastoral experience involving preparing couples for marriage and counseling those already married, I have never met a couple who regretted waiting until they were married before they became sexually active with each other. But the same cannot be said for those who were sexually active with each other before they married. Many many tears have been shed in my office by those who have not respected the sanctity of sex and its exclusive place within marriage. Many tears.

Marriage is God’s gift to mankind. In the pursuit of wanting to show mankind who He is, God has given the gift of marriage. Just as God is Father, Son an Spirit – three yet one – God has given marriage in which He becomes connected with a man and woman – three yet one. The act of marriage is but a droplet of the ecstasy which the Trinity eternally enjoys together. This is why marriage is sacred and not to be trifled with by attempting to get around it through co-habiting together and reasoning that God is indifferent about it all.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;

Revelation 19:7

Dr. Andrew Corbett

© Dr Andrew Corbett, July 29th 2010, writing from Legana, Tasmania, Australia

This article may be copied and distributed if due credit is given to the author, the article is not altered, and the website- http://www.findingtruthmatters.org – is hyperlinked or referenced.

A Theology of Sexuality

Gender and Sexuality are uncontroversially linked. The contribution that a man and a woman made to sexuality had always been straight-forward. Yet, of late, a very odd controversy has arisen around the novel idea that people are born with a sexuality beyond the designation of either male or female. It is asserted that there are now at least seven gender options with corresponding varieties of sexuality.

Initially, those defending what the Bible teaches about sexuality were ridiculed as “out of date”, “out of touch”, “prudish”, or even “fundamentalist”. But lately, the criticisms toward those who still promote an understanding of Biblical sexuality are coming from those who identify themselves as ‘Christians’. I’m not the first one to point out that the discussion regarding sexuality from the Biblical perspective has thus often been an exchange of vitriolic name-calling. The adage, “Ridicule is not an argument” seems to be pertinent. There are people on both sides of this debate who seem more interested in shouting than listening – let alone giving reasoned cases. This article in no way seeks to vilify anyone and does not endorse any acts of hatred.

The 5 Pillars Of Christianity

Many Church denominations are generally waning in this “post-modern” era. Along with the rise of non-denominationally aligned churches has been a growing doctrinal vacuum as preachers become life-coaches and the emphasis is on making the Bible a “How to…” book. A casual reading of some of these churches doctrinal statements reveals some glaring departures with historic Christianity, which should cause us to wonder how or why they differ so much with the 5 Pillars of Biblical Christianity…

Is Tithing For Today?

The vast majority of Evangelical churches encourage the practise of “tithing” and claim to do so because the New Testament teaches it. But does it? What are the believer’s obligations when it comes to endorsing or challenging tithing? What are the local church’s obligations when it comes to teaching, receiving, or addressing tithing for today? How we answer these questions has a huge impact on how believers and churches function as stewards of both finance and God’s Word!

There seems to be a growing challenge to the teaching of “the New Testament tithe”. There are entire internet sites dedicated to the issue. There are chatrooms where believers can discuss it. There are new books being written about it. In our local regional newspaper someone obviously feels so strongly about it that they have taken out provocative advertisements in the Church Notices section condemning any church that endorses tithing as being “a part of the Harlot church of Babylon”. This has become a heated issue…

I Doubt, Part 2

We are divinely designed to doubt! Doubt should be a normal healthy human response to an unsubstantiated claim. Doubt says, I won’t believe this unless I have good reasons to. When it comes to belief in God, more and more people have moved from doubt to cynicism largely because they believe there are no reasons or evidences for the existence of the God of the Bible. All too often those who do believe in God promote the incorrect idea that belief in God is a solely a matter of faith – without any need for rational evidence. Little wonder then many doubters in God have become convinced there is no God. There are some good reasons to doubt God’s existence, but some even better reasons to doubt these doubts!

I Doubt, Part 1

The fact that we all doubt to some extent suggests that each of us shares in the universal human craving to not be deceived and that we all intuitively want to know the truth. Even when it comes to Biblical spirituality, rather than seeing doubt as spiritually negative, it can actually be a positive. After all, appropriate doubt can protect us from injury and even galvanise our worthy convictions. Doubt is not incompatible with Christianity.

Solving Our 5 Biggest Global Problems

The world is increasingly becoming a global village. We now have entire media networks dedicated to potentially delivering news as it happens from anywhere in the world. Sadly, those of us in the more affluent parts of the world usually don’t get the most important news offered to us. Instead, we often get dished a diet of celebrity appearances, entertainment updates, political scandals, media commentary and sporting match results. To quote Neil Postman, despite the potential of our News media to inform us and even call us to action, we are “amusing ourselves to death.”

How Should We Think About Same-Sex Marriage

How should we think about “Same-Sex” Marriage? This public debate is as much about the role of language as it is about marriage. The emotionalism involved from both sides of the argument is intense which often leads to the actual issues being lost in the jungle of irrational verbiage. How we settle this issue as a society says a lot about what kind of society we are. Confucius is reported to have said- “When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.”

What Makes Racial Discrimination Unique

Those supportive of a “Gay” lifestyle like to argue that their case is the same kind of unfair discrimination experienced by African Americans up until the 1960s. By doing this, they make their case sound ‘obviously’ unfair. It’s worth noting that this has outraged many in the Black community who can immediately and clearly see that there is just no comparison between the two issues.

Racial discrimination is insidious! It demeans a human being on the basis of their ethnicity, skin colour, or even nationality by considering them less than human. Demeaning another human as being less than human – on the basis of gender, race, status, professional, ability, is intolerable! Christians were at the forefront of confronting this in England during the campaign of William Wilberforce M.P., and the American Civil Rights Movement of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. But for the LGBT (Lesbian / Gay / Bi-Sexual / Trans-gendered) activists to claim that their campaign is exactly same “human rights” “discrimination” violation as that which the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King was involved in confronting is going too far and has caused many to realise that the LGBT’s campaign for “sexual-anarchy” has nothing to do with the Civil Rights movement.

Circling Around The Marriage Square

Critiquing the arguments for “Same Sex” “marriage” feels like arguing against square-circles. Yet this is what we are being asked to do. This can be done in three ways. Firstly, we can reiterate why marriage is between a man and a woman. This is like being asked to defend the roundness of circles. Secondly, we can argue from nature that marriage is naturally between a man and a woman. This is like arguing that round things are circular. Thirdly, we can argue that two people of the same gender cannot ever be considered “married”. This is like arguing that even though a square claims to be a circle its claims are hampered because it has four sides.

We Are Not Your Enemies

We all need acceptance, love and respect. We all have a right to be treated with equality. This is why I totally get why so many people are in favour of same-sex marriage. It’s why so many people who identify themselves as part of the same-sex attracted communities are fighting so passionately for the laws in Australia to be changed to provide for same-sex marriage. As a Christian, I want for these people what they want – because I think everybody needs acceptance, love and respect, and equality. But I don’t think that same-sex marriage is the way to get it and it seems that 90% of the LGBTQ communities agree.

The Brooklyn psychologist, Professor Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970), wrote the book Motivation And Personality (1954) in which he argues that all psychologically healthy human beings have a ‘hierarchy of needs’.

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