God’s word, marriage and the government

By Robert Oliver - Contributing columnist

By Robert Oliver

Contributing columnist


With the recent United States Supreme Court decision concerning same-sex marriage, the media as well as what is often called “social media”, has be inundated with comments and discussions concerning this issue and marriage in general. We wish therefore to consider what the word of God has to say about marriage.

Marriage had its beginning with Adam and Eve. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him’…he made woman, and brought her unto the man. 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.’ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:18, 22-24). Later Jesus quoted these words and added, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). There are several important points concerning marriage as God prescribed it that we should note. First, marriage consisted of one man and one woman. We are not discussing what is considered marriage today, but what it was as given by God. Just before Jesus quoted those above verses, He said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female” (Matt. 19:4). Thus, from the beginning, it was a male and a female that made up a marriage. A second very important point is that this marriage was to last until death separated the couple. The Pharisees, in trying to tempt Jesus, questioned Him about divorce, or “putting away” (Matt. 19:4). When Jesus had quoted those words from the time of creation and added the part about “let not man put asunder”, they brought up divorce under the law of Moses (Matt. 19:6-7). Notice they misrepresented what the law of Moses said. Their original question was, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (Matt. 19:3). Jesus said that God allowed divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, “but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:8). But notice that the law concerning giving a writing of divorcement was not for “every cause”. It was for one who found “some uncleanness” in his wife (Deut. 24:1). The apostle Paul used the old law of Moses concerning the binding of marriage as an illustration concerning the ending of the old law and the beginning of the gospel of Christ. He said, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Rom. 7:1-3). The prophet Malachi said, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away…” (Mal. 2:16). Thus, God’s way for marriage is one man and one woman until the death of one of them frees the other. Jesus provided the only exception to this when He said, “…Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). This is God’s plan for marriage.

The United States of America is a nation, not a religious organization. The laws of the government should be followed so long as they do not mandate that we violate one of God’s laws (Rom. 13:1-2). However, authorization from the government to do something that is contrary to one of God’s laws does not annul or make void God’s law. Just because the government legalizes something that God has called sin, does not give who determines to obey God in order to enjoy eternal life, the freedom to practice that which God said is sin. Others around us, who have no real desire to have eternal life can and will practice those sins, but not faithful Christians. Long ago, laws were passed in this land giving couples the legal right to divorce and remarry for any cause and as often as they wished. Yet, God’s law still says the same thing about not putting away a spouse and remarrying except for the cause of fornication. Those who do so anyway have simply cast aside God’s law, thus casting aside their hope of eternal life. There is really no difference between the government’s laws giving same- sex partners the right to marry and the government’s laws giving people the right to divorce and remarry any number of times without scriptural cause. Both are authorized by the government and condemned by God. Were the government to pass a law mandating that everyone marry someone of the same sex, then true Christians would have to disobey the government and face whatever punishment was placed upon them for doing so. Yet, we can live peaceable beside those who practice homosexuality, marry same-sex partners, divorce and remarry for unscriptural reasons or just “shack up”, live together but without marriage. When the government commanded Peter and the other apostles to not preach Jesus after being told by the Lord to preach, Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to [email protected]

Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to [email protected]