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Monday, February 4, 2013

Defining Marriage

Marriage—the state of being married;
relation between husband and wife;
married life; wedlock; matrimony
(Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1988)

This past week, the French parliament overwhelmingly passed a motion to redefine marriage. The British parliament is to hold a vote on Tuesday. Other countries already have a new definition on their books.

Ever since the first two people on earth, there’s been a traditional meaning of the word marriage.

My purpose is not to change any nation—as if I could—or to necessarily change anyone’s opinion. Each nation has the right to govern itself, that right given by God. Each person can decide for himself what he wants to believe about any subject.

My purpose is to delve into the Bible definition of marriage, letting the Word of God speak for itself.

Consider these passages:
  • The marriage of Adam and Eve, the first people on earth, one man and one woman, took place between Genesis 2:22-24. By verse 24, Eve was called Adam’s wife. God brought Eve to Adam (verse 22), and they became one flesh. God says, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (verse 24). (This teaching was obviously meant for the generations to come, as it talks about a man leaving his father and mother. Adam didn’t have a father or mother.)
  • Jesus Himself said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (Matthew 19:5, repeated in Mark 10:7)
  • Jesus also said, Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matthew 19:6. This one flesh teaching is repeated in Mark 10:8).
  • The Apostle Paul taught, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh (Ephesians 5:31).

The word married is found throughout the Bible, almost always referring to one man and one woman. (There are several instances of one man with more than one wife.)

The Bible talks about women being given in marriage. This custom started with God giving Eve to Adam.

The ultimate marriage is one that will take place in heaven, between Christ and His bride, the church. (Revelation 19)

In the Bible, there seems to have been some kind of wedding ceremonies, even from the earliest marriages. When Laban tricked Jacob into working seven years for Rachel and then giving him Leah, there was a feast and the father giving the bride to the groom. Obviously, the bride wore some kind of a veil, because Jacob didn’t know he’d been tricked until the next morning (Genesis 24:22-25).

From Adam and Eve on, there was a formal marriage tradition. The Bible talks about wives and marrying from the very beginning (Adam, Cain, etc.). The Bible distinguishes between real marriage and concubines, lovers, prostitutes, and victims of rape. It’s clear that marriage was always a contractual agreement between parties, and that the bride’s father (or in some cases, brother) gave the bride to her husband.

Until relatively recently, marriage was always understood to be the most foundational of institutions, the beginning of a new family.

The first nation to change the definition of marriage was the Netherlands, in 2000. At present, there are ten countries that recognize marriage as being something different from the traditional meaning.

Isn’t it interesting that, since the sixth day of creation until the year 2000, no matter what the culture, marriage was defined as one thing only? Even though people have made their own moral choices throughout the thousands of years since Adam and Eve, marriage has always meant the union of one man and one woman, for life.

Jesus recognized it as such.

God recognizes it as such.

Do we need to rewrite the dictionary?

I think not.


  1. Creo que no hace falta cambiar la definición. Esta bien como está.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Tere. God bless you.

  2. I think not as well.


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