We find ourselves, as Godly people of faith, enmeshed in another social upheaval regarding marriage. First, the Bible and church tradition has consistently defined marriage, Holy Matrimony, as between a man and a women. Why? Because man and woman were created for each other.
Societies since the beginning of time have adopted roles for each gender as they live and grow together through life. God, on the other hand, through scriptures clearly describes marriage for Godly persons who trust each other enough and who are committed to each other for life until death. So what is all the fuss about?
Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5 best describe the intimate and loving roles as husband and wife. In both these passages, men are asked to give selflessly to the woman they are married to. Women pledge the same to the man. In addition, and this is important, both passages and the tradition of the church require the couple to be joined before God. The common fallacy in arguments about marriage at any level is the role and blessing by God.
In U.S. society, in 2022, civil unions/marriage between two individuals vary from state-to-state. These exist in different legal constructs to handle life transitions such as inheritance, alimony, and tax benefits. Until recently, the federal government allowed this mishmash of laws to reign. Simplistically, unions/marriages in one state are likely not applicable in another. What we are really talking about are same-sex marriages, because marriage between one man and one women are recognized everywhere. This seems disingenuous and discriminatory, but has existed perpetually western civilization, namely the U.S., until now.
People of faith, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, have had marriages blessed by God for millennia. Before that, the power and blessing of God was invoked for and by the couple throughout the world as the Abrahamic Faiths practiced (and still do today). I underscore that reality because it makes moot, the need or reason to worry about who governments, people groups, and social influencers allow or recognize as being ‘married.’
First of all, you do not need a marriage license from the county to get married by God, in a church, synagogue, or mosque. Your vows of commitment, your sole intimacy to each other, your family-building, and lives – the covenant -does not depend on the recognition of human authority to be blessed and ordained by God. By virtue of ritual and ceremony invoking the name of God and asking for God’s help and guidance is enough. Certainly, the social, legal, and tax benefits are a perk offered by western society and should be considered.
My faith compels me to stop, pray, and study, when church leaders become overtly judgmental or enter political discourse with fear that God’s Word is diminished. If others, outside the Godly realm, ‘marry’ by civil means this does not give the Church or its followers judgement or veto privileges. Yes, it is perfectly faithful to point out God’s displeasure (as if we really know He is) with sinful acts. To me, it seems disingenuous within the ministry context and ‘red letter’ words spoken by Jesus’ in the reconciling and grace-filled encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the well (John 4:4-26). I trust that if God is really displeased with our lives or the lives of others, God will, through the Holy Spirit, lead us to mend our ways (eventually) in spite of affirmation by human powers and principalities today. We are on God’s time and in the meantime, let’s find ways and means to live together better.
Since, I frequently write about reconciliation I have to make note that marriage is actually self-reconciling (forgiveness is foremost). The key here is ‘self’ or in this case ‘selves’. Two individuals, pledge, before God, to form an intimate, lasting, monogamous, and selfless covenant with one another under God. Marriage, a Sacrament, has intrinsic reconciling properties identified in Biblical (Genesis 2:24) and church traditions (Matrimony). Two individuals, a man and a woman, stand before their God seeking to be reconciled by grace alone and pledging to live according to the statues and ordinances of God. It’s seems foolish to even ponder the notion that a human entity (federal, state, or governments) by virtue of a piece of paper can compete with God’s blessing.
This Christmas, seek peace, let go of fears about civil marriage, God’s got marriage well in hand for those who love and fear Him. The ‘icing on the wedding cake, so to speak’ is the birth of Jesus. Jesus overcomes all darkness, offers forgiveness through grace, and He is the One who ‘makes glad’ all weddings under God as he did at Cana. Drink up! There is new wine being served (John 2:1-11).