Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother,
and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
In the beginning, when God created mankind, He established the institution of marriage. He created one man and one woman, and united them for life. God’s definition for marriage is thus:
ONE MAN PLUS ONE WOMAN FOR LIFE
Yet today, this definition is being challenged in several ways, and not just by demands for same-sex marriage. In this article, three challenges to the Biblical definition to marriage will be discussed.
One man plus one woman FOR LIFE
God intended marriage to last a lifetime. He did not intend on people being divorced and remarried several times, or even once.
3. The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4. And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9. And I say unto you, 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.
Jesus clearly states that God hates divorce, and that it is only permitted when a spouse had been unfaithful.
The Apostle Paul was inspired of God to write the following concerning Christians and divorce, stating that a Christian should not leave their spouse:
1 Corinthians 7:9-16
9. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. 10. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11. But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 12. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
See also Matthew 5:31-32 Mark 10:4-12, Deut 24:1-4
One MAN plus one WOMAN for life
God created marriage as a housing for procreation, the means by which individuals are reared into society. Same-sex couples cannot produce children, thus this vital purpose of marriage cannot exist between them. The Bible never mentions same-sex marriage. However, the Bible is very clear about same-sex relationships. Homosexuality is plainly and unambiguously declared to be sin by the Creator, in the Bible.
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination…” Leviticus 20:13 Homosexuality was strictly forbidden under the Old Testament law. (Christians here are urged to love the sinner while despising the sin. We need to be leading homosexuals and other sinners to salvation through Jesus Christ, and not hating and despising them as individuals.) While we thankfully are no longer under the rigidity and punishments of the OT law, the New Testament continues to declare homosexuality to be sin.
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 1 Corinthians 6:9.
For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 1 Timothy 1:10.
The phrases “abusers of themselves with mankind” and “them that defile themselves with mankind” are translated from the Greek word ἀρσενοκοιτης (arsenokoitēs, Strongs #733). This is defined by Strong as “sodomite” (homosexual), and can be translated as “one who engages in homosexual activity.”
26. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
This passage is the strongest language against homosexuality in the Bible. Reading this passage in public has even been banned in some parts of the world. It also contains the only mention of female homosexuality. As homosexuality is declared an abomination by the Word of God, same-sex “marriage” is only a further abomination.
ONE man plus ONE woman for life
If same-sex marriage becomes legal, most likely this will be followed by calls to legalize polygamy. Indeed, one of the arguments put forth for same-sex marriage is that one should be able to marry the person that they love. What if one man loves three women? By this logic, he should be allowed to marry all three. What if three men and two women want to marry, in some sort of group marriage?
Polygamy is found several times in the Bible. While God does not openly condemn it, as He does with divorce and homosexuality, it can be seen that it was not His intention. Adam was only created with one wife, not two, or twenty.
23. 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. 24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
The man and his wife become one flesh (Gen 2:24, Eph 5:31). How does a man be ONE flesh with MULTIPLE wives? Note that “wife” is singular here.
In the New Testament, men with multiple wives are barred from the church offices of pastor and deacon:
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 1 Tim 3:2
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 1 Tim 3:12
If any [elder] be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. Titus 1:6.
In addition, polygamy has a negative connotation throughout the Bible. For example…
Lamech, grandson of Cain, had two wives, and was a murderer. (Gen 4:19-24)
The “sons of God” (fallen angels) take to themselves multiple human wives, causing God to judge the world with the flood (Genesis 6:1-2).
Abram (Abraham) was given Hagar as a wife by his wife Sarai (Sarah), and Hagar gave birth to Ismael (Gen 16:1-3). It caused family tensions as Sarah was despised by Hagar, and Issac was mocked by Ishmael (Gen 21:9). Untold millions have been killed by Ishmael’s descendants bearing the sword of Islam, as alluded to in Gen 16:12
Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel, but he favored Rachel (granted he never desired to be married to Leah). These two wives fought with each other. (Gen 29:29-31; 30:1,8)
Gideon had many wives and many sons. After his death, his son Abemelech killed all of his other sons save one, and made himself king, and was eventually hit with divine judgment (and a millstone). (Judges 8:30)
Elkanah the father of Samuel had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah harassed Hannah because she was barren. This is an example of how polygamy weakens the family unit. (1 Samuel 1:1-7).
David was the most godly polygamist in the Bible. He was described as a man after God’s own heart. Yet, once he was established as king, he became used to getting any woman he desired. (See 2 Sam 5:13). Thus, when he learned that Bathsheba was already married, he still pursued her. This lead to murder, and great judgment upon David.
Solomon’s many wives lead him into idolatry. (1 Kings 11:4)
Rehoboam sought many wives. Immediately after reading about his multiple wives (2 Chron 11:18-23), we read in 2 Chron 12:1 that he forsook the Lord.
So we can see through Scripture that while polygamy is not directly prohibited, it is associated with family tension and strife, sexual sin, and even murder.
God’s definition of marriage is plain and simple. Whatever society chooses, God and His standards remain the same. I fear that, in this our society is going to take another step or two away from God into wickedness. Our society is corrupt and decadent, and is quick in running deeper into sin, further provoking the Almighty to pour out judgment on us. We are all sinners, in need of Christ’s forgiveness. We all need to repent. Yet, for the most part, our society has rejected Jesus Christ, rejected the Biblical gospel, and has accepted the gospel of Satan: If it feels good, do it. God’s Word is authoritative. Embrace it and obey it, or reject it and be judged according to it. God’s definition of marriage is authoritative; woe unto us for thinking that we can change it!