finding truth matters

Marriage

by | Jul 29, 2010 | Marriage | 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.

The Great Conversions Of The Bible

In 2006 a Australian Federal Parliamentarian declared he and his Party should be regarded as truly representing the Christian vote of Australians. He then went on to more or less state that his understanding of Christianity was not the same as that of Evangelicals- who regard conversion as an essential – instead, his idea of Christianity was one of improving social conditions and promoting wealth-equity throughout society. He seemed to be criticising Evangelicals for preaching a Gospel of “conversion”. He wanted to champion a Christianity after the fashion of the great Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Is conversion necessary or not to be an authentic Christian?

Spurgeon’s Battles

He’s known as the “Prince of Preachers”. There was once a time when kings and their princely sons were the first ones into battle with their armies to defend their people. And if this is what is required of princes, then Charles Haddon Spurgeon deserves the royal accolade. For when the Church was under vicious attack in the nineteenth century from both within and without, it was Charles Spurgeon who had the courage to step into the fray at great personal cost. These attacks came in three waves during Spurgeon’s career. While he fought valiantly, he most frequently fought alone and it was this sad aspect of his battles that arguable led to his premature departure.

Faith Statement

Statement Of Faith The Bible is inspired by God and is without error. We base our beliefs upon no other book (2Tim. 3:16; 2Pet. 1:19-21). There is One God, who has always existed in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matt....

Ethics Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

One of the most controversial debates raging at the moment is about the ethics of embryonic stem cell research. This debate has been curiously pitched as Science versus Religion. Sadly, this unfairly simplistic assessment of the debate has meant that any argument put forward by any Christian from the field of medical-science is instantly dismissed as merely “religious” arguments! Therefore what this argument is supposed to be about is often lost in the false idea that this is about religion versus science…

Earthquakes and Natural Evil

Recent large earthquakes in both New Zealand, Japan, Chile, and Borneo have led many Christians to speculate about what God might be possibly saying through these catastrophes. Other Christians are struggling with interpreting these same events from the perspective of trying to understand how a God of love and power could allow such massive destruction and loss of human life?

The Morality Of Hell

Heaven and Hell are commonly presented as either the benefit or the consequence of how a person responds to God. It’s as if people think that the whole point of religion is to get people into Heaven and to keep them out of Hell. From this “religious” perspective, Heaven is Ultimate Bliss, Paradise, Perfect Beauty – while Hell is Fire, Eternal Punishment, Anguish, Torment, and The Devil’s Domain.

Pentecostal Apologetics – Defending The Gospel With Power

Why do some people believe? Every Christian has a story of conversion. For some Christians their story is a journey from atheism to belief in the God of the Bible because of the evidence. For others, like Abdu Murray, their conversion story from Islam to Christianity was based on the credibility of the Bible. Then for those like Sy Rogers, former homosexual and formerly a Gay Rights activist, his conversion to Christianity was based on the love and acceptance he experienced in a Christian community. Many people become Christians for reasons like these, but, by far, the most common reason, at least statisticaly, is some kind of Pentecostal encounter.

A Novel Conspiracy

Just over a hundred years ago, a group of Trinity College, Cambridge students formed a covert society called the “Midnight Society”. Many of the Society members became professors at Cambridge, while others became famous novelists, playwrights and authors. At a time when Christians generally considered fiction grossly inferior to non-fiction (and theologically devotional writings), the members of the Midnight Society were strategically using it. They understood that the values and the morals of a nation could be influenced by the fiction it consumed. And they had a radical agenda…

Mankind’s 3 Greatest Unanswered Questions, Part 2

People of all ages have lingering questions that have occupied and troubled the greatest minds of each generation. Most of the challenging philosophical conundrums are usually the exclusive domain of philosophers – but not these three questions. Both the philosophically adept and the philosophically untrained have a right to feel a vested interest in how these questions might be answered. Indeed, how we answer them has an immediate and potentially fatal bearing on how we view ourselves and those around us. And it is here we begin to question.

Mankind’s 3 Greatest Unanswered Questions

People of all ages have lingering questions that have occupied and troubled the greatest minds of each generation. Most of the challenging philosophical conundrums are usually the exclusive domain of philosophers – but not these three questions. Both the philosophically adept and the philosophically untrained have a right to feel a vested interest in how these questions might be answered. Indeed, how we answer them has an immediate and potentially fatal bearing on how we view ourselves and those around us. And it is here we begin to question.

Articles

Read articles about ethics, apologetics, philosophy, public policy discussions here

Audio Archives

Listen to or download hundreds of teaching audios. Search by categories, topics and Scripture passages.

Teaching Videos

View hundreds of teaching videos here. Invite a ‘virtual’ guest speaker by using these videos.

Free Resources

Choose from hundreds of Printable, free, and downloadable, Bible Studies, and Sermon Powerpoints/Keynotes.

Subscribe To The FTM PerspectiveseMail

Receive our regular email with updates, fresh articles, audio downloads, and special offers.

You have Successfully Subscribed!