Friday, December 15, 2006

Biblical Definition of Marriage?

I read it again today in the paper - the phrase "Biblical definition of marriage." This time, it was New Jersey Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, who said, "It's my personal belief, faith and religious practice that marriage has been defined in the Bible."

As many times as I have heard people say this, I have actually never heard anyone cite book, chapter, and verse in support. So that I might be better able to engage in conversation about this issue, will someone please give the the scripture citations to which people are referring when they say "Biblical definition of marriage"?

I'd be most appreciative.

11 comments:

John said...

I once sat through an appalling tedious day-long seminar called "A Biblical Portrait of Marriage." It was an amazing work of prooftexting.

Micah said...

Andy, I'm having a hard time understanding why I am entering this discussion with you, but so that you will be educated, I will tell that most people who use this phrase are referring to Matthew 19:3-9 (Or Mark 10:2-12, or Ephesians 5:25-32) which quote Genesis 2:24 "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh." (often in close proximity to a quote of Genesis 1:27 "male and female He created them.") Under this definition, a marriage is between a single man and a single woman, who are joined together by God as a single person.

I, of course, have a more expansive understanding of this verse, and I imagine that you do, too. But that doesn't mean that those who assert that there is a "Biblical definition of marriage" are making it up. They are not, and we will get lots farther when we learn enough Bible not to claim otherwise. We can argue about what that definition means or refers to or whatever, but it's just not true that there isn't one. Lack of Biblical knowledge on the part of Progressive Mainline ministers will doom us to an asskicking in these discussions. And we will deserve it.

One semester of "Intro to the Old Testament" is nothing compared to a lifetime of taking the Bible seriously and reading it every day.

Andy B. said...

Thanks Micah, that's very helpful. I thought there may have been more than that, but that one verse, paired with the "male and female" line from Genesis 1, were all I had ever heard.

Anonymous said...

Nice comment Micah! I especially loved your last paragraph and this:

"Lack of Biblical knowledge on the part of Progressive Mainline ministers will doom us to an asskicking in these discussions. And we will deserve it."

Anonymous said...

Nice answer Micah. I linked to it and quoted your comment on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Nice answer Micah. I linked to it and quoted your comment on my blog.

Anonymous said...

2 Bush 20:01-08 Thou shall please the base - the base that placed thee where thou are. And the Bush said, “Anyone different from us is wrong and evil. And the government shall smite thee then cast its eyes away. For we are one, and it is good and powerful.”

Anonymous said...

Andy, I cannot believe that someone who is a pastor, and is therefore commanded to study the scripture in its entirety and in depth should ever be even slightly confused about the biblical definition of marriage. The bible states many times over that homosexuality is an abomination and that marriage is a union between a man and a woman-that God created humans man and woman for a reason- and that a MAN should leave his family for a WOMAN not another woman. If you will carefully read the bible every homosexual event or action ends in disaster and the destruction of all involved-even in sodom and gomora, where same sex unions were running rampant. No homosexual relationship is celebrated or condoned in the bible and you only find heterosexual relationships as being true and God honoring! I pray for you and hope that you will reread the passages that a concordance will bring you to if you look up marriage and homosexuality. May you be diligent and find the truth through the study of God's Holy and Infaliable word! Seek and you will find, ask it will be given! God Bless!

Lisa said...

Previous poster: I disagree on your interpretation of these phrases. The statement that a man leaves his mother and father and clings to a woman seems to me like EXPLANATION of why our hearts work the way they do - why people generally grow up and move into a relationship with one other person (usually opposite sex). Is it not a story that helps understand who we are and how we are, as well as guidance for how to be? However, I don't see it as precluding same-sex partnerships, simply because it doesn't list them here. (As to whether it lists them other places, I think there are a number of verses open to interpretation as to whether that "love" was brotherly/fatherly/sisterly or something else). I would never expect any story intended to provide guidance to list all possible options.

Thank you to the blog's creator for trying to prompt thought rather than blind acceptance of doctrine.

Russ said...

In terms of a definition of marriage, these verses from Genesis are somewhat problematic because the word translated wife also means woman. So we clearly have an important bond forming between the man and woman, but the text does not call it marriage.
The bigger issue, however, is that most everyone important in the Hebrew Bible (with the exception of Isaac) actually has more than one wife. So maybe each marriage is between a man and a woman, but each man can have more than one woman. Adultery only applies to a man having sex with a married woman, not the other way around. So it would seem that the biblical definition of marriage would include polygamy.
It is only in some of the passages in the pastoral letters of the New Testament (1 Tim 3; Titus 1) that an argument is made for a man to have only one wife, and that applies only to leaders in the church (elders, deacons, etc.) not to the general public.

Anonymous said...

A few lines down in Matthew 19:11, I always thought Jesus does speak about differences ... what's a 'born eunuch?'

"For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."