Marriage in the Lord: Let’s answer this question; ‘Is it better to marry in the Lord?’ Over 90% of us answered Yes! Since we have got the right answer to the topic, won’t skipping the topic make sense? Instead of skipping it, we will consider a very important part of our doctrine- ‘Why we must marry in the Lord’ Or ‘Why Christians have no choice than to marry in the Lord’
Before we go into that, we will look at the Key words of the topic; ‘Marriage’ and ‘In the Lord’
The Oxford® English Mini dictionary defines Marriage as ‘The legal union of a man and woman’ and Legal underlined means ‘Based on law’.
Had Marriage been something like a vehicle, we would have gone to the manufacturer to obtain a warranty and other necessary guidelines. God invented it, as recorded in Genesis:
“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man
Gen. 2:21-22 KJV
The inventor left us not without a guideline. We have the Bible preserved for thousands of years.
In that context, Oxford dictionary has a fair definition of the subject.
Marriage is an institution. Different people have different customs regarding marriage and Marriage ceremony. We will only look at the Bible point of view rather than the sociological.
Marriage is a complex topic; I shall as much as possible limit the discussion to Marriage in the Lord.
Marriage in the Lord
Anyone who accepts the only true gospel and is baptised in it is ‘In the Lord’
Christadelphians worldwide (the church I fellowship with) knows what we ought to know concerning this issue, because we all endorse the words written in the ‘Doctrines to be rejected’ section of the BASF.
Clause 34 states emphatically that we reject the doctrine:
“That marriage with an unbeliever is Lawful”
And in another Booklet, Living the Truth, Clause 35 states that:
“If I am an unmarried person, holiness and loyalty to Christ demands that I should marry only in the Lord” It goes on to say that “It would be foolish for me to yoke myself for life with an unbelieving partner”
But there is a re-current problem in Christianity today. Those that never married in the faith or somehow converted their wives urges the young ones to marry a Sister-in-Christ, while the Young ones repeat the mistakes of their Teachers.
The Real Marriage
The real meaning of marriage lies in Paul’s exposition of Genesis 2:24.
In Ephesians 5:23, Paul wrote:
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” MKJV
Here, Paul is telling us that a Christian family is a temporal manifestation (though imperfect) of the Kingdom of God to be established on earth.
Today, God is preparing people who will become the bride of Christ and after the judgement; they will formally unite with Christ and constitute the One Flesh.
Do we think that it will be possible for Christ to become one with an unbeliever? No is the answer! But if it were possible, do we think that Christ will ever love Her as his own Flesh?
So marriage with a believer is the Real Marriage.
What of marriage with an unbeliever? Of course we know that we have no choice than to marry In the Lord (1 Cor. 7:39) and that there is no communion between light and darkness (2Cor 6:14). But what if somehow, a brother come to ‘co-exist’ with an unbeliever? Something will be missing in that marriage. A kind of agape Love expressed in Eph. 5:25
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,”
The marriage is not a good example of the ‘One flesh’ mystery/Secret, it does not glorify God, it is not united in heaven and therefore it is a marriage, but not a real one!
If someone argues otherwise, then why did Paul allow the unbelieving partners to separate if they want to? (1Cor. 7:12-15), why is the case different for the believing partners (1Cor. 7:10-11)?
Paul said in Verse 15:
“But if the unbelieving one separates, let him be separated. A brother or a sister is not in bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace.”
But because God is not an author of confusion, in Verse 12, the couple is adviced to live together and in another place, it was plainly stated
“For Yahweh, the God of Israel saith that He hateth divorce…” Malachi 2:14
Alan Hayward, in his book ‘Christian marriage in African setting’ said:
“Once he has taken a wife, he must stay with her always. If he makes a foolish choice, he may have to pay for his mistake by being unhappy all the rest of his life”
Marriage with an unbeliever is not based on the Law of God. Even your childhood friend who is not a believer will not give you the real ‘Christian peace’ you need. After all, What communion hath light and darkness?
Some people suggest that the case should be different for an isolated brother/sister. It is not! The case is the same. An isolated brother may become unhappy throughout his life for choosing an unbelieving partner.
An isolated brother, by the virtue of his environment is often not very strong in faith, especially the new converts. They need a ‘helper’ most, and it will be unwise to get a helper who doesn’t know and is not willing to know where the workplace is.
Since it is more difficult for such brethren to obtain a believing partner, who knows if the Almighty will grant them sufficient grace at the Judgement day? We know not and our case rest under an assumption. In such case, we stay at the very safe side.
But what we know for sure is that Happy/Blessed is the brother that went extra miles, even to a distant land, to obtain a believing partner for life!
In the next issue, we will look at problems associated with marriage, both in the Ecclesial and family level. We will also look at some marriage models from the Scripture.
Problems arising from marriage
According to the “Letter written to the Elders of Missionary Ecclesias in Africa, June 1980”: “Next to baptism into Christ Jesus, Marriage is the most important decision made in life”
If the above statement is true, it means that there should be a very careful consideration before choosing a partner from the fold. It also means that problems will arise from marriage, both from the family level and in the Ecclesial level.
- Problem of Choice:
Choice is the noun form of the English verb Choose. ‘Choose’ simply means ‘To select out of a greater number’ Concerning the Immanuel, it is written:
“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good” Isaiah 7:15 KJV
When choosing, one either tries to make the right choice or the better choice. The later is more preferable in the context of this topic.
What is Choice?
To answer the question, we will go back to the scriptures.
Let us look at 3 marriage models in the Bible.
- Adam and Eve
- God and Israel
- Isaac and Rebecca
Adam and EVE:
Adam had companions. He could talk to the serpent, his pets could help him do some certain things, but he was alone.
He needed someone like himself, who could help him in a special way. Though there was none to choose from the available, the All-knowing God knew what Adam needed and He gave him his choice.
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” Genesis 2:18 KJV
“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man.” Genesis 2:23 MKJV
God and Israel:
We learnt from the scriptures that Yahweh’s relationship with Israel is like that of a father to his son. Also, His love for Israel is like that of a husband to his wife. Even when Israel played the harlot (Hosea3:15), the Almighty promised them a restoration, even to a better position.
“And it shall be at that day, saith Yahweh that thou shall call me My Husband, and shall call me no more My Master.” Hosea 2:16
Why did God choose Israel? Why did He maintain the relationship?
“Yahweh did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all peoples: but because Yahweh loveth you, and because he would keep the oath which he swore unto your fathers, hath Yahweh brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
The word choose is the Hebrew Bachar– ‘To try, by implication to select: – choose (choice) according to Strong.
We have conclusively shown that God chose Israel because of their ancestor’s faith on Him.
From the two models, we have learnt that choice is scriptural. We will go into another sub-topic.
Who has the right to choose?
A brother or a sister has a right to choose ONLY when he has done a complicated psychological work on himself.
“For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” Phil.2:5 MKJV
The mind that was in Christ Jesus is also the mind of God.
According to Thayer, mind (Phroneo) means: To have understanding, be wise, to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for…
“But Yahweh said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for Yahweh seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looketh on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7
We don’t need to go to heaven to get the mind of Christ because it is here with us –The Bible. Regular daily reading for our lifetime is what we need.
The Bible will teach us that the whole duty of man is not to make money, rather to ‘Fear God and keep His commandments’
Our earthly mind will tell us that one with ‘Bright future’ is someone who will become famous, wealthy, etc.
Why are we Christians? There is no Christianity without faith.
I have seen 2 short couples give birth to giants, I have seen a couple with Choleric temperaments and the Husband automatically became a Phlegmatic. I have also seen a newly married young man die at an early age and so on…
Here, I am not saying that it is foolish to consider such factors as age, temperament, etc. when there are choices to choose from, but most times, as it has always been the case in most Ecclesias, we are faced with few or no other choice to make as long as we want to marry in the Lord. In such circumstance, our faith in God will help a lot and those secondary factors would be overlooked at.
Only the mind of God will teach us our real mission to this earth –To seek the kingdom of God. If we make this our utmost priority, all other things shall be added unto us!
Issues like incompatible phenotype and things like that are not easy to solve in the light of the scriptures. It is scientifically proven that a couple with AS genotypes may give birth to an SS. God made it that way. There has been a lot of technological advancement in this field. Some people could afford to solve theirs while other unenlightened ones cannot do otherwise.
We don’t have any direct scriptural guidance concerning it. Some may argue; ‘Why bringing an ‘SS’ baby into this world to suffer?’
Many AS couples have lived together without any regrets. How strong is your faith? Why put the Lord to test if you cannot bear the consequence of having an SS baby?
Isaac and Rebekah
Many would like to have such a peaceful marriage as Isaac had, but only a few would want to go through the process Isaac went through before finding a suitable partner.
Abraham knew that Isaac was young. He knew the implication of his son marrying a Canaanite. He had faith, faith based on the eternal promise made to him in Christ. Genesis 24:7.
In fact, the mistake great kings like Solomon and Ahab made was what he avoided over a thousand year before.
Abraham made his servant swear that he would go as far as Mesopotamia, his original country and to his house to get a wife for Isaac. The whole story is found in Genesis 24.
That was Abraham’s plan and Isaac didn’t object!
As Abraham’s servant and Rebekah approached the field were Isaac was, Rebekah took a veil and covered herself –a sign of subjection and Isaac ‘loved’ her.
We found later on that Isaac immediately developed the phileo and the Agape Love for his nearly found wife! It worked! Not because of the age they lived in, of course Jacob’s case was different, but because of the faith they had in the promise.
Verse 67 reads: “…and she became his wife and he loved her..”
Loved underlined is the Hebrew word ‘Aheb’ which means affection or Love.
The same Hebrew word is the root word of ‘Ahabah’ –The word for the Love Jonathan had for David.
‘And Jonathan caused david to swear again, because He loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul’
1Samuel 20:17 KJV
The case of Isaac and Rebekah should be a lesson for all of us, especially the isolated brother or sister Yes, it is good to court and know each other before marriage, Yes, it is good to make our own choice…but;
“All things are lawful to me, but not all things profit. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1Corinthians 6:12 RSV
Written in 2011.
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