Am I alone in thinking that the government has no business defining what marriage is or isn’t? President Bush, several senators, and conservatives nationwide have renewed the call for a “Marriage Protection Amendment,” or MPA (see also). And though it didn’t earn enough votes in the senate to even be considered for ratification (source), it will continue to be brought up again and again.
However, the issue at hand isn’t marriage; it’s civil rights. Can homosexual partners have the same rights in court, hospitals, and elsewhere as heterosexual partners do? I say, of course!
But for marriage, we must let He who ordained marriage define it for us. As the Lord says, “Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4,5).
Okay, so marriage is between male and female only, according to He who ordained it. With me so far? Great. The MPA, however, oversteps its bounds in defining marriage between “a man and a woman” (read: singulars). Again, we must go to the words of He who ordained marriage where we find that He acknowledged that Solomon had seven hundred wives (1 Kings 11:3). If biblical marriage is between “a man and a woman,” then Solomon couldn’t possibly have had so many wives–certainly God wouldn’t have acknowledged it! And yet, not a word is spoken against the practice–not in Solomon’s case, not in Abraham’s case, etc. In fact, the only thing I know of that would apply to Solomon (not to Abraham or even the Church) is a provision in the Law of Israel which is applied to kings, demanding that they not multiply wives (or horses, or gold…) unto themselves (Deuteronomy 17:17).
So we see that Solomon was disobedient in having so many wives, but that does not mean they weren’t legitimately his wives. In fact, Exodus 21:10 is a provision specifically for having multiple wives, stating that if a man take more than one wife, he shall not diminish the care and provision given to any of them.
It is often said among Christians that where there is no law, there is liberty. Can anyone find a law declaring how many wives a Jew may have? What about Gentiles? Or the Church?
I have heard arguments from both sides of the multiple wives thing, and for someone who believes in the foundational doctrine of Sola Scriptura, the answer ought to be easy: no command is given regarding the number of wives in a marriage.
So isn’t it a bit presumptuous for conservatives to take it upon themselves to define marriage as “a man and a woman” to fight homosexual unions when they are in effect illegitimizing the relationships of many great men in the Scriptures. I find in their efforts a great dishonesty which has led to a tremendous waste of time and effort.
What should it matter to them who has what civil rights? It is not as thought they are losing anything by homosexuals gaining a few rights. And if it becomes a crime to speak out against homosexuality, so be it. That is a cross that the Church will bear just as it has bore crosses all throughout history. It would do the Church of Christ in America good to suffer for once for His sake. I have rarely experienced it, but the Scriptures declare it a source of blessing. Lord, bring the storm!
So if homosexuals want civil rights before the government, that is just fine. Sola Scriptura settles where they stand before God and where they should stand before the Church: they are souls as important as yours and mine who Christ died to know and who I would love to see in Heaven one day!
Because biblical marriage involves no ceremony, no government endorsement, etc., the Church does not have to recognize what is not rightfully marriage. The culture of the Church ought to be vastly different than the world’s anyways. We should find it not a strange thing if the familial culture is different as well!
I didn’t intend for this post to promote polygyny originally, but the point had to be made. If Christ can liken Himself to a Bridegroom ready to marry ten virgins (though only five were wise enough to be ready), then we should likewise not find the thought sinful. After all, can Christ–who knew no sin, who is the Holy One–really be likened unto a “sinful, chauvanistic pervert who is destroying the institution of marriage by taking multiple wives”? Or is it just and holy for a man to wed multiple wives who in turn desire to be wed to him? (See Matthew 25:1–13.)
My Christian brothers, I encourage you to stop wasting your time fighting homosexual “marriage.” In your heart, you know that no matter what the world says, it will never be marriage in God’s sight. No amount of legislation can change how He sees. And I ask that we all step back and approach the Bible without any preconceived notions or outside authority. Let the Lord God Almighty speak to us today through His word as He has done for generations, and see that biblical marriage is indeed between male and female, but there is not a numerical limit placed on wives.
And before anyone slanders me in comments, let me say right up front I have no part with the Mormons, nor am I a polygynist. I am avowed to one wife, forsaking all others, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, it is also my sacred duty to teach and to preach the whole counsel of God regardless of the cost. This message of marriage is a “meaty” issue that may certainly offend some, and I can only ask again and again: Let the Bible be your only guide.
Update: Fixed a few typos. | Update 2: Fixed another typo.