Thursday, October 4, 2012

A biblical view of marriage

Recently I was commissioned (in the non-monetary sense of the word) to write an article for the Wellington Institute of Theology's September Newsletter (which is somewhere on the web, I believe, but am not sure where, though I did try to locate it). I have uploaded my contribution, 'A biblical view of marriage', to Scribd so you can locate it there.

Postscript: thanks to a friend, the newsletter in toto is here and the WIT site is here.

14 comments:

Janice said...

Thanks, Peter. I enjoyed reading your article and it gave me food for thought.

One small issue I would like to raise is in relation to your statement that, "one might discuss the Bible’s approval of polygamy". I don't believe that the fact that polygamy is mentioned in several Biblical narratives constitutes "approval of polygamy".

I think of the Bible as God's revelation of himself to us through (at least) the stories of his dealings with particular people, beginning with the first human beings, Adam and Eve. These people did things that revealed what they were like and God responded, revealing what he is like. So the fact that Adam and Eve's sin is mentioned doesn't constitute approval of their sin but how God deals with them afterwards reveals a great deal about God. In the same way, the fact that the patriarchs and kings were polygamous doesn't show that the Bible approves of polygamy. These were just things that these people did.

Father Ron Smith said...

"I think of the Bible as God's revelation of himself to us through (at least) the stories of his dealings with particular people, beginning with the first human beings"

God's ultimate revelation, of course, came through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son - the 'Word-made-flesh' - the Word of God in action, Who spoke (speaks, even today) more powerfully of God's interaction with our common humanity.

When we realise that the writings of the Bible are the humanly received and understood stories of how God has interacted with human beings through Judeo-Christian historical 'remembrance', we begin to understand that Jesus - the expected culmination of the Messianic prophecies - has fulfilled all the requirements of the Jewish Law received from Yahweh we are able, more clearly to trace the story of God's dealings with real human beings - first through the Prophets and then through Jesus.

Next Sunday's Gospel, from Mark 10:2-16, shows Jesus countermanding the Mosaic allowance of Divorce; on the grounds that the people were 'unteachable' about what was God's ultimate plan for heterosexual couples who married (remembering that Jesus was also to speak of eunuchs, who would refrain from marriage for various reasons which Jesus explained).

Jesus' ability to contradict what the Pharisees saw as The Law (for instance - the law that demanded stoning of a woman for adultery) no doubt shocked the Pharisees. It seems in these instances that God (in Christ) could be more merciful than the Church. A good lesson for us today.
Because of the pouring out of God's Spirit at Pentecost - after the redemptive death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus - we now have the prospect of a greater understanding of God's interaction with us than at any time before the appearance of Jesus, Whose ongoing life is still being transmitted to the world through the sacramental gift of himself to believers: in the Eucharist.

Janice said...

God's ultimate revelation, of course, came through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son - the 'Word-made-flesh' - the Word of God in action, Who spoke (speaks, even today) more powerfully of God's interaction with our common humanity.

Yes indeed, Ron. And what did Jesus say about marriage? He referred right back to the beginning and quoted Genesis 2:24 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." This, therefore, is what marriage is.

No matter how much you (and I) might feel sorry for homosexual people in their troubles and wish that they could be happy and have "abundant life", to assume that they can find that in homosexual "marriage" is to assume something which has no basis in revelation.

Hebrews 12:6, 11 "For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. ... For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Father Ron Smith said...

Janice, what do you think about a same-sex relationship that is faithful and monogamous? Should the couple be allowed a Civil Partnership with a Blessing by the Church, as long as the word 'Marriage' is not invoked? Or do you think that Gays should remain celibate?

Shawn said...

God's ultimate revelation does not involve a split between the incarnation and the Bible. We would not even know of the incarnation or the teaching of Christ were it not for the gift of Scripture. It is God's Holy Word, breathed out by Him through the Spirit, and every word burns with holy fire.

Jesus did not contradict nor overturn the Law, he criticized the Pharisees misuse and misunderstanding of it, and while the Law does not save, it continues to have moral force in our lives as testified to by Christ's repeated affirmation of the ten commandments, and his strong affirmation of the creation ordinance of marriage expressed in Genesis. Thus any behavior which the moral law disallows, such as adultery, homosexuality, idolatry or oppressing the poor and the weak, cannot be accepted or affirmed by Christians or the Church.

The life of Christ and the blessings of our redemption purchased by His blood are given and received through the power of the Spirit working through all the means of grace, but especially through the preaching and hearing of the Word.

Shawn said...

The Church cannot bless civil partnerships, homosexual or heterosexual, as doing so involves blessing and affirming sin. The only valid place to express sexual love is within the covenant of Biblical marriage.

People who experience homosexual compulsions have a number of choices (as do all those who experience compulsions contrary to the created order). Celibacy is one. Covenant marriage with a person of the opposite gender is another.

Also what has often got lost in these debates is that God heals. I have met several ex-homosexuals who have experienced God's healing power and have gone on to marry and lead happy and fulfilled lives.

It is cruel and an insult to God to claim that people who experience sane sex compulsions must accept and affirm them. This claim is not loving and tolerant, it is cruelty motivated by unBiblical political ideology.

But our God is bigger than the petty, vapid and faithless idolatries of modern secular liberalism.

Janice said...

what do you think about a same-sex relationship that is faithful and monogamous?

I assume it's possible that such relationships exist. But even if they do, and assuming the couple understands the word "monogamy" in the same way I do, what of it? Faithfulness is not a virtue if it involves commitment to something that is not itself virtuous.

Should the couple be allowed a Civil Partnership with a Blessing by the Church, as long as the word 'Marriage' is not invoked?

The love that Christians are to have for their neighbours is not mere sentimental emotionality. This love does not require us to bless whatever the neighbour chooses to do even if the neighbour says that he or she can't help it. Once material needs have been met, love aims to help the neighbour achieve the best spiritually, which is to become more and more like Christ.

Christ was able to save us because he perfectly fulfilled the Law. This Law says, at Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, that it is an abomination, or detestable, for a man to lie "with a male as with a woman". Romans 1:27 says that homosexual behaviour is an "error". A church cannot claim to be faithful to our Lord while blessing behaviour that the Word of God describes, at the mildest, as an error.

Or do you think that Gays should remain celibate?

Yes, I do; for their own sake - so that they will "yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness" - and for the sake of avoiding doing harm to others. Temptation can be overcome by those who wish to overcome.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks, Janice, for confirming my suspicion - of your implacable anti-gay view. Are you a member of the so-called (oxymoronic) 'Mainstream'?

Shawn said...

Janice's arguments are Biblical, not "anti-gay". Janice has done a fine job of summarizing what Scripture actually says on the subject of sexuality and marriage.

I note that Ron conveniently ignores the Scriptural arguments in favor of his usual silliness about others being "anti".

I sometimes wonder if Liberals want to just get rid of Scripture entirely, given that it plays almost no role in their arguments and is terribly inconvenient when it comes to modern sexual fashions.

And whether or not Janice is a member of any organization, her view is certainly the mainstream view of both global Christianity and global Anglicanism.

Janice said...

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Matthew 7:1-2

I do not have an "anti-gay view". I do not know what 'Mainstream' is.

Shawn said...

Some liberals believe that those of us (the vast majority) who submit to God's teaching in Scripture on marriage and sexuality are being judgmental of people who experience same-gender sexual compulsions and condemning them.

They then judge and condemn us for our "unenlightened hatred".

I wonder if they understand the concept of irony?

Anonymous said...

"Faithfulness is not a virtue if it involves commitment to something that is not itself virtuous."

A devastating one-liner.
There is honor among thieves too, but they are still thieves.

Mr Smith's ignorant un-catholic remarks about theology and his spiteful ad hominems about educated and faithful Christians he has never met are the reason I gave up commenting on this blog. Mr Smith has his own blog where he is free to hold forth without contradiction or condemnation, but for whatever reson he feels compelled to come over to someone else's tent (with the LBJ sense of purpose).
A great shame, since I appreciate what Peter is trying to do.

dixi. satis - taceo.

Martinus Tacitus

Peter Carrell said...

The last few posts have just scraped through moderation. But there is huge danger that we are (again) entering ad hominem territory.

COMMENT ON THE ISSUES NOT ON THE COMMENTERS.

SPECULATE ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF GETTING THE ISSUES WRONG, DO NOT SPECULATE ON THE OTHER COMMENTERS AND WHETHER THEY ARE TALL/SHORT, GOOD/BAD/INDIFFERENT DISCIPLES, LEFT/RIGHT/CENTRE, CLOSET MEMBERS OF ORGANISATION X, Y, OR Z.

It is not hard: comment on issues not on commenters. Cut the last throwaway comment about the commenter from your post and all will be well. Keep doing it and I will delete your comment, even if 99% fine.

Anonymous said...

Interesting read! Thanks!
-Sam
(http://www.bibletalesonline.com/)