The magazine, Time, for November, 29, 2010, asks the question on its front cover: “Who Needs Marriage?” To find the article’s page number, one looks at the index on page 5; however the title now appears to be: “Why Marriage Endures.” But wait! When the reader turns to page 48, the two-page heading is: “Marriage: What’s It Good For?” Anyone wanting to quote any of the material from this article will have a wonderful time figuring out its title. At least it only has one author—Belinda Luscombe. The data used throughout pages 48-56 are from a Time/Pew research report, and it covers several aspects of marriage and divorce.
In 1860, just under 70% of all adults were married. Among the 30% of those who were single, some had never been married, some were divorced or separated, and some had mates who had died. Today, 50 years later, only 52 % of all adults are married (the statistics are actually from 2008). According to the chart on page 54, the amount of those never married has grown from around 14% to 27%. The widowed category has shrunk from 9% to 7%, and those divorced or separated have increased from 5% to 14%.
Why are there fewer who have never been married? As the article suggests: “Neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or professional success or respect or even children…” (49). Of course, with a wide variety of birth control techniques, as well as the legalization of abortion since 1973, one of the chief fears of unauthorized sexual relations has been minimized. Furthermore, in all those decades, Hollywood and television have glorified sex apart from marriage—as if there were no consequences at all to letting one’s libido run wild. The article does not mention that fewer might be getting married because of the rise in homosexuality (hyped by the same media), but this certainly could be a contributing factor.
The article reflects the thinking of human beings—not the thinking of God, Who designed marriage in the first place as the only proper place for a sexual relationship to occur (Heb. 13:4). He even gave instructions for a husband and a wife not to defraud one another (1 Cor. 7:1-5) lest they face temptation.
Is Marriage Obsolete?
The above question was asked to those who participated in the poll. The average for all the different types of groups was that 39% believe it is, which is higher than the 28% who said so in 1978 (51). Broken down by categories, only 27% of those with a college education voted for obsolescence, while 45% of high school graduates did. Only 31% of married couples thought marriage was passé, but 62% of couples living with a partner drew that conclusion, which is hardly surprising.
The statistic that looks most dangerous here is that more women than men (41% to 36%) think that marriage is headed for extermination. Apparently, the feminists have been successful in convincing women that God and the Bible are wrong, after all. Without marriage, women have much less protection under the law. It would be difficult to estimate how many women that preachers have counseled with who have no alimony, no settlement, and often a child to support. Some of these are from living together, where they entered into an “arrangement” with no safeguards for them. Others agreed to a no-fault divorce and received essentially nothing. Why women would agree to such arrangements is anyone’s guess. Unscrupulous men walk away with no financial responsibilities and are free to move on their next female victim. What reason could a female have to participate in such a devastating arrangement? “Oh, but he looooooves me.” Right! Yet even in the face of these experiences, more women than men say marriage is obsolete. Hello! The Scriptures and common sense are knocking.
Dr. Laura calls it “shackin’ up”; the Bible calls it fornication. Tragically, it has become popular. Call it “friends with benefits,” “playing house,” “living together,” or invent some new terminology, but to God it is sin. The majority of adults have not cohabited with someone apart from marriage, but of those surveyed, a disturbing 44% had (51).
Not too long ago statistics were published that showed a dramatic increase in the percentage of couples living together. Just from 1990 to 2000 there was a 70% increase. But this most recent survey found a 13% increase from last year to this year (52). One reason cited as a contributing factor was the bad economy, which, of course, is no excuse for immorality, but the other reason is “these days less than half the country thinks living together is a bad idea” (52).
That would be the half of the country that rejects what the Bible teaches on the subject. Anyone who has read much of the Bible knows that sex outside of marriage is termed fornication. If anyone is unaware of what that word means, a dictionary will furnish a definition, such as: “Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman not married to each other.” The Greek word has an even broader definition that would include homosexuality. That this practice constitutes sin can hardly go unnoticed by anyone reading the Scriptures. Fornication is listed among several other sins in Galatians 5:19-21. Those who commit this sin (fornicators) are listed among those who are unrighteous, who will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11), and if these are not enough, there is always Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
A person would need extraordinary help to misread or misunderstand this verse. So while “living together” may be accepted by most people as “not a bad idea,” God counts it as a sin which, if not repented of, will cause a person to be lost. Of course, if most people prefer not to accept the Biblical doctrine of hell, then why would they be concerned about this or any sin which would allegedly send them there? If the Bible is true (and it is—see www.MiraculousBible.org), then certain actions offend a holy God, which will cause Him to separate them from Him forever. What the majority of people think is not a safe index since Jesus said the majority of people were on the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). Also, the majority of people were clearly outside the ark (in the worldwide Flood) and drowned!
Furthermore, fornication (whether casual or as a live-in arrangement) is not without its share of earthly problems. Besides the risk of pregnancy and STDs, “a 2006 report by the journal Demography found that one-half of all cohabiting unions collapse within a year, and 90 percent within five years.” This information is from the Internet article, “5 Myths About Cohabitation,” by Sharon Hodde Miller. The myth being discussed was that cohabitation is a stepping stone to marriage.
The second myth exploded in the article was: “Cohabitation reduces the risk of divorce.” The Time article seems to suggest that living together first makes no difference, but articles that have appeared over a period of years have all found that the divorce rate of those who have lived together first is 25% or higher than those who had not. Sharon cites “a study conducted by psychologist Scott Stanley at the University of Denver,” who “found that couples who cohabitate are twice as likely to get divorced as those who do not.”
It is not difficult to figure out why cohabitation does not work all that well. It is not God’s arrangement, and it denigrates marriage. If neither “men nor women need to be married to have sex” (49), then why should a man or a woman be faithful during the cohabitation arrangement? After all, they are not actually married, and they have already despised God’s plan by demonstrating that they think they know better than the Creator about intimacy. And if the couple does eventually marry, what motive do they have to then be faithful? They did not respect sex within the marriage bond before; why do so now?
In light of the above information, it is probably no surprise that the divorce rate is lower today than in 1978 (49). With fewer people getting married, there will naturally be fewer divorces. Since trial marriages involve no commitment or legal requirements, couples just walk away from them at will. The callous attitude that many have against marriage today, expressed in living together arrangements, was first expressed by the obtaining of unauthorized divorces.
The Time article does not spend as much time on the subject of divorce, since the rates have “plateaued” (54). But they do point out that divorces today are more common among the less educated than college graduates. The reader wonders what he is supposed to do with this bit of information: “…a child living together with unmarried parents in Sweden has a lower chance that his family will disrupt than does a child living with married parents in the US” (54). The notion seems to be that Sweden has learned to achieve stability while couples live in fornication. Is that a good thing? The indictment seems to be that marriages in this country are still not very stable.
The reason is that even those claiming to follow Christ do not abide by the Lord’s teachings concerning divorce. Years ago most religious denominations gave up observing the Bible’s teaching on this subject. They began to accept divorce for any cause—especially if the unscripturally married again folks were generous givers. Then certain brethren came along and tried to destroy the teaching of Matthew 19:3-9 by doing what false teachers do best—mutilating definitions that once were obvious to all. The fact still remains that a person who divorces his mate for reasons other than adultery and marries another lacks the authority of Christ to do so and is living in adultery.
Many of the reasons for the statistics already presented are couched in selfishness, although the Time article does not explore that consideration. Those who commit fornication outside of marriage do so because they are selfish, desiring to have what is forbidden until marriage. Those who divorce also frequently do so for selfish reasons; rather than honor their vows and make their marriages work, they find it easier to give up and try to enter into another relationship. So it should be no surprise that children are often the last consideration when “adults” make their plans.
“Yet very few people say children are the most important reason to get hitched. Indeed, 41% of babies were born to unmarried moms,” which is eight times the amount it was 50 years ago (52). Of course, if a child is conceived out of wedlock by two individuals who do not love each other, then marrying might only compound the problem, but many of these couples are cohabiting at the time. Most of the unwed mothers believed there was a 50% chance or more that marriage would follow, but weddings followed only 16% of the time, and the majority of couples eventually quit living in fornication (52).
Another unsettling statistic is that “21% of American children will see at least two live-in partners of their mothers by the time they’re 15, and an additional 8% will see three or more” (52). What kind of stability do such actions provide for youngsters? What will their attitudes be toward marriage when they mature? A few will no doubt resolve to provide a stable marriage and home environment when they reach adulthood, but how many will follow the pattern that they have observed in their own “home”?
Oddly enough, those surveyed did not think that current trends are good for society. In fact, 43% said that unmarried couples raising children was bad for society; only 10% said that it was good (53). Uh, did the remaining 37% have no opinion? An overwhelming 69% declared that single women having more children was bad for society, and only 4% thought it was good. Interestingly, 43% also thought it was bad for society for homosexual couples to raise children; 12% thought it was good. The same 43% thought it would be bad for society for more couples to live together without marriage (9% saying it would be good).
These statistics are good as far as they go, but with so many not responding, one must assume that they do not care or know one way or the other. Also, these statistics may show that people have better ideals than they have practices. People often have noble intentions but then allow themselves to be persuaded to be part of a situation they really do not wholeheartedly support. Those who reach adulthood should know certain things—that God placed the pleasures of sex within marriage, that fornication is sin, that adultery is sin, that divorce (except for fornication) is sin, that pregnancy outside of marriage is sin.
The Loss of Influence
In the first century, as Jesus entered into the world, divorce was common. So were the practices of fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. Even among God’s people, His laws on marriage were not respected. Some thought that a man could divorce his wife for any cause. In other words, it was about the same as today, give or take a few percentage points. But when Jesus came into the world, He taught the truth on this moral subject and called people back to God’s original plan (Gen. 2:18-24). Societies influenced by Christianity became far better, but for the past 50 years the United States (and many other nations in the world) has been headed in the wrong direction—back to pagan practices.
Our culture’s rebellion against the ideals of marriage is nothing more than a reflection of its rejection of the Bible, which we have failed to honor. Although God and the Bible were well respected by our founding fathers, a concentrated effort, led by the ACLU, PAW, and other influential groups has all but removed any mention of God or the Bible from public view. Some of these groups do not mind us having freedom of religion if we hide it away and do not ever speak of it.
They have sought and succeeded in removing the Bible from the classroom, prayer from public schools, and God’s name invoked at a graduation speech or a football game. Some have objected to religious displays at various seasons of the year. One cannot mention the Bible as an authority in courtrooms. The Ten Commandments have been removed from courthouses. Christians know that Christmas is not a holiday authorized by God and that the Ten Commandments were part of a covenant that has been replaced by the New Testament of Jesus, but that is not the point. Many do not want any semblance of anything that pertains to Judeo-Christian values to be seen publicly. Many protested Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. One might have good reasons to protest Mel Gibson personally—but not for that great production.
Several things might help restore the Bible and Christianity to a place of respect. First, Christians must speak up in favor of the truth. Biblical evidences are essential; as long as people think that the Bible is an outmoded book of myths, it will do little good to cite passages from it. Why should people believe its message? Unfortunately, many religious figures who are thought to represent Christianity do not themselves believe its teachings. These people do great harm and huge disservice to the cause of Christ.
The Bible contains an accurate account of creation; it is not a collection of mythical stories. The prophecies recorded over several hundred years within it were fulfilled in Christ. Jesus is the Son of God, and He did die for our sins. If Christians cannot prove these things to be so, how can we expect anyone to desire to abide by God’s marriage pattern which He established at the beginning? Christians must be vocal in the public forum—and evangelistic.
On The Tonight Show, starring Jay Leno for Wednesday, November 3, 2010, the host made a comment about homosexual marriage. These may not be the precise words he said, but they capture the substance of his thinking: “I’ve been married for thirty years. If two guys want to get married, how does that threaten my marriage?”
This comment is nothing but a “straw man” argument. It assumes that the main objection against homosexual marriage is that it poses a threat to marriage between a male and a female. Possibly this perspective may have been advanced by someone, but whether or not that argument is valid, it is not the rationale that most people would set forth regarding the subject.
The main reason for opposing homosexual marriage is that God created both the male and the female, and He designed marriage to be between a man and a woman. God designed this union between a man and a woman before sin had ever entered into and marred the perfect world God had created. Notice that Genesis 2:24 says that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
The way that God created the first pair is significant. He did not begin with two men or two women as a pattern. He did not give Adam four women and institute polygamy. Neither did He give Eve four men. He did not create five men and five women to form a “hippie” commune. Furthermore, he did not create a backup for Eve in case Adam wanted to divorce her.
The pattern is very simple: one woman for one man for life. And that was the way Adam and Eve lived out their lives. This was—and is—God’s Divine plan today although man has frequently departed from it. But they do so without His authority or blessing, which makes all such variations sin.
One challenge to marriage occurred in the days of Malachi—more than 400 years before Jesus was born. The Israelites, whom God had brought back from captivity, decided to act out of selfish motives. They divorced their wives and married foreign women. God called their actions profaning “the Lord’s holy institution” (Mal. 2:11). A few verses later, Malachi records God as saying that “He hates divorce” (Mal. 2:16).
Jesus would be asked about divorce during His ministry. To show that it was wrong, He appealed to Genesis 2:24 as the pattern which God had established, adding: “Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). Since marriage is God’s holy institution, only He can authorize two individuals to be married. Under the covenant of Christianity, which all men today live under, Jesus will judge us according to His words (John 12:48). The Father and Jesus only authorize marriage between a qualified man and a qualified woman.
Polygamy is not authorized, nor is group marriage. Neither can a divorced individual marry another (unless the reason for the divorce was fornication on the part of the mate) (Matt. 19:9). Likewise, homosexuals have no authority to marry, either, since they do not fit the Divine pattern established from the beginning of the world. Homosexuality is a choice, or there would not have been young men in Sodom. Men and women still married there and raised families, but the men also desired other men—even visiting strangers (Gen. 19).
From the creation, God put the pleasures of sex within marriage; fornicators and adulterers He will judge (Heb. 13:4). The reason that homosexuals cannot be “married” is that it is a clear denial and rejection of God, who created mankind and destroyed it once because of its excessive wickedness in the Flood. To allow or promote such an atrocity is to openly rebel against God and to profane His holy institution of marriage.
Having left off (previous article—Drinking Wine) with a brief discussion of gleukos, a word which appears only in Acts 2:13, it would be appropriate to point out that there is a similar passage in the Old Testament—namely Isaiah 49:26:
“I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. All flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
This verse, which Ricky referenced, is comparable to Acts 2:13 in that both of them describe something that is not possible—getting drunk on new wine. As already pointed out, sweet or new wine is fresh from the grapes. It is not intoxicating, however, as most lexicons will declare (except ones who are trying to explain the passage rather than define the word).
So, once again, how are we to understand these two verses? Most commentaries do not comment on “Sweet wine” from Isaiah 49:26, but Barnes provides the explanation, and it also works in Acts 2:13. Commenting on the phrase, as with new wine, he wrote:
The Hebrew word…means must, or new wine…. The must, or new wine, was the pure juice which ran after the grapes had been laid in a heap preparatory to pressure…. This had the intoxicating property very slightly, if at all…. It is possible, I think, that there may be an allusion to the fact that it required a large quantity of the must or new wine to produce intoxication. And that the idea here is that a large quantity of blood would be shed (Barnes Notes, Isaiah, 2:216).
This writer’s best friend in high school once made a startling statement. His father worked for Bubble Up, a soft drink company which at that time was a competitor of 7Up. He informed us that it was possible to get drunk on it. “Of course, you would probably have to drink 60 gallons.” Each bottle contained a drop or two of alcohol. This is precisely the case with new or sweet wine. The most it would have in it would be a drop or two of alcohol—so slight that no one would actually be able to tell. Therefore, one would need to quaff great amounts of it in order to get drunk.
This is what the mockers on the Day of Pentecost were saying when they insisted that the apostles were drunk on new wine—that they had consumed copious amounts of it (gallons), which would have been necessary to ever achieve any level of intoxication. Peter’s answer, in light of this evidence, makes complete sense. He denied that they could be drunk on new wine since it was only 9:00 A.M. in the morning. Much more time would have been required to literally have imbibed such a great quantity.
Ricky cited several verses and then attempted to make a logical argument concerning them. One of those was Jeremiah 35:1-2:
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, “Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.”
Ricky’s comment on the verse was this: (Is God Himself causing the Rechabites to stumble?) This is one of those instances where he should have read the rest of the text instead of simply trying to gather verses that he thinks support drinking alcoholic beverages. Had Ricky continued reading, he would have seen that Jeremiah brought bowls of wine and set them before them, encouraging them to drink. They answered, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father, commanded us, saying, “You shall drink no wine, you and your sons, forever” (v. 6).
God was not tempting the Rechabites to sin; He knew that they faithfully had kept this charge throughout the generations. The point that He made to Israel was that the Rechabites had kept the word of a man, but they did not keep the Word of God, their Creator (v. 14). Only someone who is desperate to prove that God sanctions drinking alcohol would so abuse this passage.
When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord, they were devoured by fire. God then forbade the priests from drinking wine or intoxicating drink when they went into the tabernacle of meeting. Ricky concluded: (Notice, do not drink STRONG DRINK IN THE TEMPLE. If it was always wrong (in God’s eyes) to drink alcohol (especially strong drink) this is a redundant statement.)
The fact that God offers an extra caution does not mean that it is right to do it otherwise. Paul told Timothy to focus on reading, exhortation, and doctrine until he came (1 Tim. 4:13). Did that imply that Timothy could stop those things after Paul’s visit? When Solomon wrote, “Do not be overly wicked” (Ecc. 7:17), did he mean that wickedness in moderation was all right?
Everyone needs to be careful in his use of the Scriptures and only draw such conclusions as are warranted by the evidence. Earlier in the same passage (Lev. 10: 3), God had said that those who came near Him must regard Him as holy. Does that mean that those who did not come near to Him could display an irreverent attitude toward Him? Such a conclusion is false.
When Abram returned from rescuing Lot, Melchizedek met him with bread and wine . While this word for wine usually refers to a fermented drink, in Numbers 6:4 it does not. Since the Old Testament provides exceptions to the intoxicating version, then why should it be assumed that in this text the wine is definitely fermented? Yet Ricky absolutely insists on it—and in a rather vulgar manner:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. (Imagine that! The future ‘Jesus’ shows up with maybe a six-pack of beer or a quart of booze.)
Because Melchizedek is a priest of God Most High (who also is holy), we would assume that the wine was unfermented. If the priest had fresh bread for this meal, then it is also likely that he had fresh fruit of the vine. In other words, he could not have traveled far without the bread getting stale or the wine becoming fermented (cf. Joshua 9). Ricky would turn Melchizedek into a “whiskey priest,” as described by Graham Greene in his 1940 novel, The Power and the Glory.
Can it be proven that the wine was non-alcoholic? It cannot be done linguistically, but consider the following rationale. Melchizedek is type of Christ; Jesus is part of the Godhead, Who is eternal. Another member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, inspired Solomon to write: “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly” (Pr. 23:31). The word translated “wine” in both verses is yayin . If God does not contradict Himself, then Melchizedek, as a forerunner of Christ, brought the non-intoxicating version of wine to Abram. Now it may be that some are yet not convinced that the wine was non-alcoholic. But then where is the proof that it was? No one can establish that point.
Ricky calls attention to Ecclesiastes 9:7, which includes the words, “And drink your wine with a merry heart.” He makes no further comments, but a look at the text is instructive. Solomon has classed all individuals as among the living or the dead (Ecc. 9:5). Once a person has departed from this world, they do not have a share in anything that is done under the sun (Ecc. 9:6). Therefore, while under the sun, all should go ahead and eat and drink (Ecc. 9:7), live joyfully with his wife (Ecc. 9:9), and labor with his might (Ecc. 9:10), for none of these things will be done when we depart this world.
Certainly, nothing in the text encourages losing one’s sobriety; if anything, it is just the opposite. Be alive and enjoy life! “Go, eat your bread with joy” is a parallelism with “and drink your wine with a merry heart.” All that is intended is enjoying food and drink—not heading toward inebriation. Further, “Let your garments always be white” may symbolize more than having clean clothes; it could, in a broader sense, refer to being pure, period. But even if not, nothing in the text suggests a drinking party.
This verse says: “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” If this refers to intoxicating wine (and in this case it seems to be doing so), it certainly makes sense. Just because God forbids succumbing to the temptation (23:31) does not mean that all people do. We know, in fact, that people did engage in drink so as to become drunk.
King Lemuel wrote: “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart.” So, which one is Ricky—perishing or bitter? Obviously, if he thought he was not entitled to drink alcoholic beverages, he would be bitter indeed. So, maybe…. Seriously, however, this is a text which highlights a contrast. Proverbs 31:4-5 explains why kings and princes are not to drink wine or intoxicating drink. Doing so might cause them to forget the law and pervert justice. They need to be sober to dispense righteous judgment.
If anyone is to be given wine, it should be the one who is perishing—about to die. In this case it might have a medicinal value, such as dulling pain. It was given to those who were about to be crucified for just that reason; Jesus refused it even then (Matt. 27:34). Since this verse is also clearly a parallelism, those who are bitter in heart are probably those in agony over their forthcoming death. Verse 7 adds: “Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” This is simply a continuation of the same idea and still contrasted to the need for kings to be sober.
Considered out of its context, it would be easy for anyone who wants to get drunk to justify himself. “I’m drinking because my life is bitter. My wife left me, I lost my job, and I don’t have any friends. Give me another bottle.” “I’m just a poor man, I can barely afford to pay my rent; I need a little nip or two.” “I’m in misery. My health is bad, and nobody really cares about me. I’m drinking to forget about my lousy life.” If those are the teachings of these verses, few besides the king will ever be sober! So, then, wine is appropriate as a painkiller for those who are near death and suffering. They can forget their suffering, their poverty, their misery, their pain. But others need to be sober and alert.
The passages cited by Ricky do not prove his case even a little bit. The Bible does not teach, “Drink moderately.” Perhaps the reason is that alcohol first goes to the brain and removes the ability to make thoughtful, rational decisions. It does, however, even in the Old Testament, teach not to look on wine at all. Why do people fight so hard to legitimize drinking alcoholic beverages? Is the reason that they are addicted? They will even pervert the Scriptures to legitimize their habit, yet millions live normal and healthy lives without it.
As mentioned previously, Newsweek magazine’s Social and Religion editor, Lisa Miller, decided to enter the extreme “gay”-ety fray that has erupted since the citizens of California voted a constitutional amendment last November which upholds defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. Those who voted for Proposition 8 have been called hatemongers (which is absurd), and now, in December, marriage, as seen in the Bible, has come under attack.
The Bible Defines Marriage
Ignoring dozens of typical families in the Old and New Testaments, Editor Miller selected a few exceptions to God’s design and said, “See this is what marriage in the Bible looked like.” Evidently, she thinks that nobody has read the Bible and she can slant it any way she desires. Her ignorance of the Scriptures is set forth in this incredible statement:
First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
What?! It would be difficult to imagine a worse blunder! Someone needs to direct her attention to Matthew 19. In verse 3 Jesus is asked by Pharisees who came to test Him: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Now think of all the ways Jesus could have answered this question. He could have discussed all the pros and cons of divorce, outlined a brief history of the practices in various cultures, reviewed what all the scholars and rabbis thought, and then told them what His opinion of the matter was. Instead, He asked them:
“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’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:4-6).
God’s definition of marriage, which Jesus endorses, was first set forth in Genesis 2:18-24. God designed one man and one woman to be married to each other. He did not begin with two men or two women. He did not create a man and two (or more) women (which would have populated the earth a lot faster), or a woman and two (or more) men; nor did He create five of each for a community marriage. The fact that marriage is to be a permanent arrangement is seen in that God gave no provisions for divorce. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that what they read in Genesis 2:18-24 IS God’s definition of marriage. Somehow, the Religion Editor misses the significance of the passage.
The Pharisees then tried to pit Jesus against Moses in order to make the Lord look bad. They asked why Moses allowed for divorce—if marriage was so defined. Jesus answered that Moses allowed the practice because of the hardness of their hearts and then added, “but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:8). No one can miss the emphasis of the way God created the first man and the first woman as a pattern—except editors at Newsweek and homosexuals who are biased against the Bible in the first place.
Those who fail to see this definition have overlooked what God intended for them to see. Jesus once chided the Sadducees for not understanding the significance of the statement: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” It meant that, although their physical bodies were dead, they (their spirits) yet lived in the presence of God. Similarly, God entwined marriage with the account of creation so that mankind would follow the Divine pattern.
Is the Bible a Living Document?
To counteract the clear teachings of the Scriptures, Editor Miller tries to brush away their effectiveness with a wave of her hand. She writes:
Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.
What these words mean is anybody’s guess. The Bible is a relevant document. People commit the same sins that they always have. There is nothing new under the sun. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life were present in the Garden (Gen. 3:6), were used by Satan on Jesus—without success (Matt. 4:1-11), and have been operative all through the Christian age as well (1 John 2:15-17). The Scriptures are always applicable to man, regardless of what new technologies are available.
The Bible is a living document in that the Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), but it is not “living” in the sense that new portions are being added periodically. It says of itself that it is complete (2 Peter 1:3; Jude 3). Neither is it “living” in the sense that someone can assign any interpretation to it that she desires. God protected His Word so that it is fully capable of refuting any heresy. There are no reasons found in the Bible for homosexuals to exist, period, let alone be married.
Having affirmed that the Bible is a living document, Lisa then makes the comment that “the Bible authors could never have imagined the brave new world of international adoption and assisted reproductive technology.” Really? And she knows that, how? But even if she were right, the point is irrelevant because the God who inspired the writers of the Holy Scriptures did know, and that is the reason that the Bible contains sufficient information on all relevant moral issues.
But Editor Miller cannot have it both ways. Do Biblical truths “speak to us as we change through history,” or could God not have imagined “the brave new world” of modern man? How ironic it is that people talk about God and the Bible, but they do not necessarily accept the supernatural elements of the Book! Many will say they cannot believe in miracles or that the writers could have envisioned our current society. Hello! What is there about the definition of God that is hard to understand? He is a supernatural being, a Spirit, that is above and outside of the physical world He created. He is omnipotent, omni-present, and omniscient, which means He knows ALL things. For that reason He can declare the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). As much as it may shock some people, God is not surprised about atom bombs or DVDs.
The Non-Literal, Liberal View
One should not assume that, because someone discusses things recorded in the Bible, or even makes a flattering statement concerning the Scriptures on occasion, such an individual actually believes the Bible. Lisa Miller has a consultant for this article in Newsweek. He is “Barnard University Bible scholar Alan Segal.” A search on the Internet shows that he has an even more impressive title—“professor of Religion and Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University in Manhattan.”
All that anyone needs to know about him and his attitude toward the Scriptures can be summarized by what Editor Miller says of him. After he refers to Genesis 2:18-24, he comments that,
if you believe that the Bible was written by men and not handed down in its leather bindings by God, then that verse was written by people for whom polygamy was a way of the world.
What this sentiment expresses is that Segal is a modernist who does not believe the Bible is inspired of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and frowns upon anyone else believing so, either. He is like those who put together The Bible’s Buried Secrets for PBS. Since these “Scholars” reject inspiration, they say, “Oh, Moses made up that Genesis part to get people to quit being polygamists.” Israel did need that teaching, but Moses did not originate the idea; the Holy Spirit inspired him to include the definition of marriage because it was the way God created the world.
Segal also said that marriage in the Old Testament was an arrangement between “one man and as many women as he could pay for.” He must be reading between the lines. Abraham was married to Sarah. He was with Hagar only once so that she could be a surrogate mother. The faithful patriarch could have afforded a multitude of wives, had he so desired, but he did not. Isaac married only Rebekah. Jacob had two wives under unusual circumstances (until his favorite died), and he had two handmaids who also served as surrogate mothers. Although occasionally a man had more than one wife (Elkanah), there is no indication that very many men did—with the exception of kings.
Comments like Miller’s and Segal’s only serve to attempt to undermine the inspiration of the Scriptures, but they do not stand up under scrutiny. Miller admits that “gay marriage” is not found in the Bible, but this fact does not slow her down. She repeats the erroneous statement that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, when a good Bible lexicon explains that porneia includes homosexuality, along with adultery, as part of its definition. What does it signify that Jesus did not specify the act, when it is included in the general term? Nothing! He did not single out the terms rape or incest, either. Will Miller argue that they are therefore acceptable practices? Besides, what the apostles taught is just as valid and authoritative as what Jesus said.
Quoting from a Bible dictionary which is erroneous on this point, Miller affirms that “nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women.” Really? What about Paul when he wrote: “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature” (Rom. 1:25)? Whoops!
Miller continues blithely along, acknowledging that the Bible only condemns homosexuality for males in a handful of passages, “but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text….” They are clear enough to anyone who can read. She argues that, because Leviticus also includes advice about treatments for leprosy and how to offer blood sacrifices, all of these instructions should be discounted because “our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions.” Obviously, she knows nothing of the fact that the Mosaic law was given to Israel, and it was nailed to the cross when Jesus died (Col. 2:14). Again, she has returned to her “Bible is out of date” theme, when in fact it is only the Law of Moses that is out of date. From her slanted scenario, one would think that Christians are commanded to offer up blood sacrifices today. She is one confused commentator.
She acknowledges that Paul was “trough on homosexuality,” but then adds that “progressive scholars” believe he is speaking against flagrant promiscuity and debauchery, such as were practiced by Nero and Caligula. The phrase, progressive scholars, should be translated as “modernists who twist the Scriptures to mean what they want them to mean” (2 Peter 3:16). Editor Miller does not refer once to God’s destruction of Sodom (prior to the Law of Moses) nor the fact that Jude says it serves as an example of God’s judgment to those who have “given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh” (7), which presumably could include women as well as men.
Incredibly, Miller states: “Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, but in custom and tradition….” She needs a 17-point reality check. Why would most of us care about the subject—except God has branded it as immoral? It would be far easier to remain quiet and let the biased news and entertainment media just persuade everyone that it is all right. Christians oppose this sin just as we do adultery, fornication, gambling, and prostitution. These are not our thoughts on any of these subjects; they are God’s.
She erroneously argues that the Bible endorses slavery. Regulation of something being practiced by nearly every culture does not constitute endorsement. Christian principles brought about its demise. After citing the death penalty for adulterers and homosexuals in the Old Testament as being passé, she then suggests that we need a “mature view of scriptural authority” that lets us move “beyond literalism.” What she means, of course, is that we just forget about context and “interpret” the Bible however we want.
Scriptural Justification for Homosexuality?
Editor Miller’s arguments in favor of homosexual marriage are few and worthless. First, she uses the tu quoque fallacy, which basically means, “If I’m guilty, so are you.” She says: “Paul argued more strenuously against divorce—and at least half of the Christians in America disregard that teaching.” The fact that people disregard the Bible does not mean it is wrong or out of date. It means that people choose to disregard what the Bible teaches when it suits them. Jesus says they are living in adultery (Mat. 19:9). They cannot see the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-11). God will judge them (Heb. 13:4). One sin can not justify another sin.
Second, Miller writes: “Gay men like to point to the story of passionate King David and his friend Jonathan.” Apparently, Miller has never heard of being kindred spirits with a person of the same sex without there being some sort of physical relationship. She adds: “What Jonathan and David did or did not do in privacy is perhaps best left to history and our own imaginations.” This is just plain sick. Both men were married, and nothing indicates anything more than friendship.
It is argued that the message of Christianity is one of inclusion rather than one of exclusion. Yes, everyone is invited to be a Christian—even tax collectors and harlots. But everyone must first repent of his sins. The adulterer cannot continue to live in adultery. Jesus did not approve the situation the woman at the well was in. He told the woman taken in adultery to “sin no more.” Homosexuals must give up their sin, also. All being one in Christ Jesus is written to those who have repented and obeyed the gospel (Gal. 3:28).
A forth lame attempt involves misapplying, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13-16). While it is a great text to show that human life exists in the womb (and therefore abortion is murder), it does not relate to homosexuality at all. God did not create people who had no choice but to practice sin. Gay advocates assume that homosexuals are born that way, despite the lack of evidence, and then say, “If God made me this way, homosexuality must not be a sin.” This is the fallacy of circular reasoning.
A fifth claim is that homosexual rights parallel the struggle for racial equality. Galatians 3:29 states racial equality, along with Acts 17:26. Where is the verse that states homosexuals are born that way and are equal to heterosexuals? Anyone can see the difference.
Finally, “Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad,” which is exactly what the proponents of unlawful divorce and remarriage argue. God wants people to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Genuine happiness results from obeying God, including being pure in heart (Matt. 5:8) and in body (2 Cor. 7:1). “More progressive denominations—the United Church of Christ, for example—have agreed to support gay marriage.” This is not the only error they practice. We “literalists” believe that God means what He says. “Progressives” do not.