Saturday, July 29, 2006

Marriage and more

So who really is married...?

When a woman and man decide that they want to spend the rest of their earthly life together and make a commitment to that fact then they began the process of becoming ‘one flesh’ (I have used the word ‘process’ simply because I do not want to be tied to an exact point of time).

The man and woman have the same hopes, the same aspirations and they work for the common good of each other, each one always seeks the lowest place and seeks to serve the other in a way that regards the needs of their partner greater and more pressing than their own.

At some point sexual union further cements the relationship, (although in our culture this often happens earlier rather than later) joining the two in a mystical
union (please do not freak over this word, I just do not think we fully comprehend marriage), again in this area the others needs are to be preferred. Obviously this is not possible for all through disability, illness etc and so sexual union cannot be the determining factor in constituting marriage.

There is a basic requirement for faithfulness, food and clothing (material welfare) and physical affection (Exo 21:10 and Jesus teaching on adultery). These are the vows and promises that the two people must make to each other, regardless of whether witnesses are present or not. Repeated neglect of the above requirements can be basis for divorce (see this link - Instone Brewer - for probably the most comprehensive teaching on Divorce and Remarriage for the last 2000 years), though reconciliation is always the desire of God.

All this applies to all people, not just Christians or Jews; this is because marriage is creational (predating the law). Therefore it is immaterial where the marriage service is held, who officiates or what prayers are said. All those things are simply externals that adorn the true heart of the matter. God is all seeing and will witness and recognise the promises of the people wherever they hold the ‘service’. So if two athieistic humanists get married and totally rejected any notion of any divine input...God would still be there. One can add as many trimmings as is desired, but true marriage begins and ends in the hearts of the man and woman involved

Now as a side issue, and any people who do not claim faith in Jesus can look away now, 'can someone become a church member who is in a permanent relationship but not legally married'?


dinsy said...

I think the Instone Brewer teaching is excellent, we had a comment on the other thread to the effect that only death can end a marriage. I'm still not convinced that death does necessarily dissolve a marriage, although it often does. I certainly think a marriage can be broken while both parties to it are still alive. Once it is broken beyond repair, I don't see how it can continue to bind either party to it.

As for church membership, providing the partners see themselves as married, and live accordingly, I can't see any bar to church membership. If they are "members of the body of Christ" it seems a bit odd that a local denominational group would refuse them admittance.

The only grounds I can see for refusing membership is persistent unacknowledged or unrepented sin. Any church viewing "committed cohabitation" as such, would presumably then have to ban the couple from particiaption in eg. communion or adult baptism?

Communion being a sacrement instituted by Jesus, therefore should rank far higher than membership of the local group, as indeed should membership of the body of Christ.

But why would such a couple want to even attend a church whose leaders treat them as unrepentant sinners and second rate citizens?

PeterinScotland said...

Yep, IMHO there is no such thing as "committed cohabitation". Or to put it another way, marriage is society's (and God's) way of telling the extent of the commitment. Sexual relations without that Biblical union are clearly forbidden. So yes, it is "persistent unacknowledged or unrepented sin". In today's situation it may take a while for new Christians to accept this because it's not what is currently being taught in the world, but if we just accept the world's standards we may as well pack up and go back to the world.

dinsy said...

It seems to be to be nonsense to say there is no such thing as committed cohabitation, when so many couples are in such a relationship. What would you call a relationship between a couple who are totally committed to each other for (at least) the rest of their lives, keeping their sexual relations solely to each other, sharing all things in common, etc.

Where does the bible define what you would consider to be a "Biblical union"?

Rock in the Grass said...

I'm a late visitor to this discussion: but in terms of the question posed, what exactly is "legally married"? Is this marriage according to the laws of the land. If so what do God's requirements have to do with civil law? The marriage laws of parliament may or may not be in keeping with God - but they have no obligation to God at all. Their only obligation is to the electorate!
Surely the question should rather revolve around a definition of Christian marriage. And if this is a process, as suggested in the blog, then how can a church keep people out of a community of faith who are all sinners in a process of becoming more Christ like. Belonging to a church can never be the reward for"Good behaviour" (whatever that might mean).

Dave said...

Its never too late to comment, people are still commenting on the gospels!!

I like what you said, though I must just add that I do not see a division between civil or christian marriage, though this may not be what you meant when you said
Surely the question should rather revolve around a definition of Christian marriage.

Marriage is creational and therefore 'anyone' who gets married is bound to Gods perfect requirement for marriage, whether they do it or not.

Thanks for your comments


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