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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage (5) Six Marks of a Marriage Joined By God

As I was in the process of my personal study of this vital subject in the early 90’s, I recalled the first lesson in hermeneutics (interpretation) that I received when I was just a young boy….John Coyle, the pastor of the Orangeville Baptist Church in the late 1950’s and early 60's, taught us a simple lesson about the word “therefore”! He said, “Whenever you see a “therefore”, stop to see what it’s there for! That word will always refer back to what you read in the immediately preceding context.”

This unforgettable lesson came back to mind as I read Matthew 19:6 “Wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

I knew then that the answer to the question “What is it that God joins?” would be found in the context of Matthew 19 immediately preceding verse 6!

And so I made the following observations from the text of Matthew 19:3-5:
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?
(A) They were talking about a human relationship. (man and wife)

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,
(B) The Lord Jesus said it was to be a heterosexual relationship. (male and female)

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother,
“Leaving father and mother” was not simply setting up a new home and family unit in a different home, for by Jewish custom the groom brought his new bride into his father’s home! Rather the idea in this expression is that a man leaves the family of his parents in order to find a wife from another family.
(C) Thus the Lord Jesus was saying that it was to be a non-incestuous relationship (not joined to a near relative).

and shall cleave to his wife:
(D) It is to be a non-adulterous relationship (i.e. not his neighbour’s wife or his brother’s wife, but his wife!)

And shall cleave unto his wife:
(E) It is to be a marital relationship (i.e. with distinct relationships as husband and wife.

and they twain shall be one flesh?
(F) Although the OT scriptures never condemned, warned against or reproved polygamous marriages, this statement of the Lord Jesus no longer leaves the door open for “they three” , “they four” or “they seven” to be one flesh! Very plainly, He says, “They twain” (just the two of them!) shall be one flesh.Thus we see God’s intention affirmed that marriage is to be a monogamous relationship.

Once God, in Christ, had revealed the full scope of His intention for the marriage relationship by these six marks (human, heterosexual, non-incestuous, non-adulterous, marital and monogamous), He immediately revealed three vital truths about such a relationship:

(1) Two people who are joined together in such a relationship are “no more twain”! The expression “no more” (Greek OU KETI) always designates situations where change has taken place that cannot be reversed at least in this life. The former condition "twain” has ceased and the latter condition “one flesh” has become the lifelong condition of the union which it describes.

(2) While Malchi 2:15 alludes to the fact that God “makes one”, yet here in Matt.19 the Lord Jesus has revealed the exact nature of the kind of union which God is joining…"what therefore God hath joined together…” and

(3) Such unions that God joins, He expressly forbids man to put asunder! “let not man put asunder.”

As I pondered these six marks of marriages which God joins, I realized that there are three such features in which the man and woman are the same and three features in which they are different !

They are the Same:
-Human relationship: they are of the same species.
-Non-adulterous: they are in the same condition (neither are joined to another spouse who is yet living).
they are in the same union (both are joined only to each other).

They are Different:
-Heterosexual: they are different genders (male and female).
they are from different families (i.e. Jones and Smith!)
they have different roles (i.e. husband and wife) they are now much more than simply “friends”, “lovers” or “fiancés”.

How fitting that the marriage union of two people who are each tripartite beings (spirit, soul and body) should be marked by six necessary features! In three of these God has designed that they will be the same in order to be suitable for each other and in the other three, God has designed that they will be different to insure that they will be complementary to each other!

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36

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