finding truth matters

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.

Impossible Faith

Some people find faith in God to be impossible. These people have reasons for their impossible faith. Their objections may be intellectual, moral, or emotional. There are three well-known figures who each exemplify each of these objections to faith in God. Charles Darwin, Thomas Hardy and Bob Hawke each respectively held these particular objections to Christianity.

The Reliability of The Bible and How Best To Interpret It

The Bible is the most influential book of all time. It’s contents have changed the course of history. It’s story has formed the pattern for all the great literary classics. It also makes the astounding claim that it is the uniquely authoritative revelation from God and therefore has the authority to command our moral behaviour. But if the Bible is not reliable, then its claims are indefensible and Christianity is without foundation! Yet despite this glaring vulnerability, the Bible has withstood rigorous scrutiny and repeated attempts to refute it. Here’s why it is indeed reliable.

What Is Heaven Like?

I honestly used to think that Christianity was all about having the assurance of going to Heaven. But as I learned more about the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth I became curious about the relative scarcity of references to Heaven in the Bible. Yet, while my understanding of the place of Heaven in my Gospel proclamation has been refined, some God-Channel evangelists have headed in the other direction and made Heaven central to their Gospel. Some of these evangelists now even claim to have the spiritual power to make repeated visits there!

Presumably God, the Supreme Being, has a supremely beautiful home, in a supremely magnificent neighbourhood. Amazingly, God invites mankind to move into His neighbourhood- for eternity! But what is Heaven like? Is it possible, as some are now claiming, that we can visit Heaven? While I am going to lead readers to conclude that Heaven is not the Gospel’s focus, if it is the only reason someone is motivated to convert to Christ, then we should rejoice!

The Tragedy of Suicide – And How We Can Help

Suicide hurts. It is motivated by pain, but causes much greater pain. For those affected by suicide the guilt and anguish it produces is almost unbearable. But since suicide is in the Bible, how can we know that it is wrong? How should we regard the sinfulness of suicide? Is it unforgiveable? How can we help avoid suicide? What should those affected by it know after its happened?

The funeral celebrant rang me to warn me. He was used to dealing with sensitive situations but this one had a few extra layers of complexity. He decided to get me involved. He outlined the story to me and then told me the purpose of his call. When a loved one dies there is often a measure of guilt for those left behind. But when the death is caused by suicide that guilt is compounded. Suicide hurts. The funeral celebrant told me that a young man with a diagnosed mental illness, who had professed Christianity, had taken his own life and his devout mother (who we will call “Betty”) was devastated. The celebrant told me that Betty would ring because her guilt was beyond his expertise due to her Biblical understanding of suicide.

How To Handle A Crisis

The definition of a crisis is a calamity or event which disrupts a person’s sense of well- being and lifestyle. It is generally short term and requires immediate action in order to restore balance and control in the person’s life.  The results of crisis are: anxiety, bewilderment, confusion, desperation, anger, helplessness and even apathy. There is an increased sense of dependency upon others, a sense of urgency, and decreased efficiency in decision making and performance. The account of Judah being sieged by the Assyrians in Second Chronicles 32, involves all the aspects of a crisis. The major distinctive is that it involves a nation of people rather than just one person. The “helper” in this instance was their leader – King Hezekiah.

Roman Catholicism Compared With Christianity

Any discussion about religious wars, clergy violations, or child abuse, and it won’t be long before the The Roman Catholic Church unfortunately features. But I want to have a different discussion. And unlike most of the ‘discussions’ of this nature, I’m not on a mission to attack, ridicule, or mock anyone. Rather, I want to look at what the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches and asserts and compare it with the Bible’s teaching.

I’ve been a denominational minister for over two decades, so I know that it is possible to be a part of an organisation with which you disagree on some points.  I understand that this is certainly the case with the Roman Catholic Church as there are many priests who do agree with all that their Church asserts. For the purposes of this discussion, I have chosen to take the official Catholic positions on the matters I am comparing with the Biblical data. It is my hope that my Roman Catholic audience will acknowledge that I have represented their views fairly – but it is also my hope that I can appropriately demonstrate how these core views compare with the Biblical prescriptions.

Soli Deo Gloria

The final statement in The Five Pillars of Biblical Christianity is Soli Deo Gloria – for the glory of God alone! The reason we are saved is so that we can glorify God. In one sense it is true that reason Christ died for us was to save us from our sins and the just wrath of God for our sin. But the main reason Christ died to redeem us was for the glory of God.

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:44

The glory that comes from God is when we give God glory. One of Christ’s last prayers was that His disciples would see His glory (John 17:24). Therefore God’s glory, His radiant magnificence, is visible and apprehendable. God’s glory is described several times in Scripture. In this sense, God’s glory is a visible reality (a noun). God’s glory is variously described as being like a cloud (Exodus 16:10), a devouring and consuming fire (Exodus 24:17), fire and smoke-like cloud (2Chronicles 7:1), and a brightly glowing cloud (Ezekiel 10:4).

Where Are The Dead?

Sitting across from me in my office was an older middle-aged man who had just read my draft commentary on the Book of Revelation. He had come from Queensland to visit friends in Tasmania and while in the neighbourhood, dropped in to see me to have chat and get a later edition of my book. He asked a lot of theoretical questions and we discussed the implications of what we discussed. Not until he returned to Queensland did I get an email regarding the chapter on the Resurrection. It was at this point that he confided in me that he was in the advanced stages of cancer and that his query was far more than theoretical.
The ancients believed that death was merely a change of location for the soul of a person. The place of the dead was called “Sheol”. When Jacob thought his son Joseph was dead: “All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.” (Gen. 37:35 ). When the judgment of God came upon Korah and his rebellion.

TULIP, The Essence of The Reformation

Jesus Christ taught that following Him was only possible through the miracle of conversion. He taught that for someone to authentically claim to be a Christian they needed a spiritual encounter that changed their heart and mind. Without such a miracle, known Biblically as ‘regeneration’, no one could merely decide to be a Christian.
It’s important to appreciate the geo-socio-politico conditions at the time of the Reformation. This was the time when John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and others dared to defend the Biblical revelation against a militant Papal Church which had previously executed similar voices (Wyclif, Tyndale, Savonarola, to name a few) for daring to defy the teaching of the Papacy. One of the central claims of the Papacy was “Universalism”, the doctrine which taught that Christ’s sacrificial death was repeated over and over through the celebration of the Mass and was effective in saving all those in communion with the Roman Catholic Church (thus, universal salvation was activated by works). Since Salvation was universal (everyone is automatically saved), the Papal Church was more concerned about administering this salvation through having people in communion with it, or alternatively, disfellowshipping (or, ex-communicating) those who it disliked. Calvin on the other hand saw that Scripture did not teach universalism, but conversely- that not everyone would be saved.

Leadership Lessons From Shackleton

Sometimes when the going gets tough, you just have to keep going. In fact, success in life – no matter how you define it – can only be achieved with endurance. Surely one of the greatest examples of endurance (if not the greatest) is the story of Ernest Shackleton and his expedition to the Antarctic on the ship: The Endurance. While we ordinary mortals may never have a death defying adventure like Shackleton and his 28 men, we are already in the midst of our own great adventure called life!

Some people want to live their lives by seeking their maximum comfort and avoiding all risks. But this is not the Believer’s lot. We are called to follow Christ- who even though He is entirely consistent in character, is somewhat unpredictable in his plans for His followers. The New Testament calls this “walking by faith” (2Corinthians 5:7). This is why for the Believer, Life is the Greatest Adventure.

When was the last time you did something for Christ that required “great faith” (Matthew 15:28)?

Dr. Andrew Corbett

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- April 20, 2018, 5:24 am

Christians claim that the Bible is divinely inspired and without error! But just reliable is the Bible really? Chec… https://t.co/yMSPikQMHD
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- April 19, 2018, 7:15 pm

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