Blog Archive

Friday, September 3, 2010

Question of the Week:
What is Marriage?

In God's eyes, what is marriage? What is divorce?

~ Jodi, Michigan

The short answer I'd offer is that marriage is God making two people one flesh and divorce is humans ripping flesh apart:

[Jesus] said to them, "... 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh' ... they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
Matthew 19:4-6 (NKJV)

Marriage is the lifelong covenant relationship between a man and woman, instituted by God for our temporal time on earth, officially established by formal vows made before witnesses. Among the purposes of marriage are:

• Supportive human companionship (Genesis 2:18)
• Procreation of godly offspring (Genesis 1:28)
• To clarify God's relationship with His people (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Marriage is the most significant human relationship, but it is only a model of a bigger, spiritual relationship between God and His people. We are to love the Lord and be united to Him physically (yielding our bodies to His Holy Spirit), in mind (conforming our way of thinking to His), in heart (loving who and what He loves), and in soul (our identity is attached to Jesus Christ).

"The goal in marriage is not to think alike,
but to think together."
~ Robert Anderson

"One flesh" signifies that two people are joined not just physically, but also by thinking together from different perspectives, by sharing desires and aspirations, and uniting their identities as part of each other.

Through His relationship with us, God also indicates how we respond to an imperfect spouse. God loves us despite our neglect, shortcomings, misplaced priorities, and indifference. He asks us to do the same.

The Old Testament permitted a man to divorce his wife for sexual "uncleanness" (or "shamefulness"), though the Jews came to divorce for other kinds of disfavor. Jesus made clear that while Moses permitted divorce because of hardened hearts, only sexuality immorality provided legitimate grounds for divorce. Paul went on to explain that a Christian shouldn't divorce an unbelieving spouse, but was released from the marriage only if the unbelieving spouse abandons the Christian.

God calls divorce "violence." Its effect upon our souls is no less than if we ripped an arm off a person, separating flesh from flesh. An arm would only be amputated when it contains disease which has already separated it from life in the body.

It might be said that when all other means of recovery have failed to restore the member diseased with sexual immorality or abandonment, divorce cuts off what is already dead. To use divorce for lesser reason is to commit unnecessary violence to ourselves and to the model of God's enduring covenant.

A final note: The sanctity of the marriage covenant never demands self-sacrifice which allows oppressive abuse. Jesus says, "... learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' "

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies. To see additional comments click here.


  1. (For whatever reason I'm unable to comment on B&B) Great post and toxic in a sense. So many grey areas interpreted by Christians and the like. I've always wondered about divorce in this regard; a good friend of mine had her husband up and leave. He remarried and started a new family with someone else. She was *devastated* and yet she's still single years later. I wondered if by encouraging her to date if I would be encouraging her to sin? A verse regarding adultery sticks in my mind and I can't find the reference right now so I'll have to get back to you on that. He's no longer her husband and I don't know his standing with the Lord.

  2. i like how you cut to the chase. we tend to justify , rationalize, and minimze Gods word. It is what it is. Thank you for telling it.

  3. Steve ~

    Thanks for this second invite. I already have more blogs in my reader than I can keep up with. I consider adding a blog either because it offers information I need, or because it's written by someone who's taken the time to establish rapport with me and I'm just interested in what they're saying.

    May you hear God's Spirit in His Word.

  4. David ~

    My goal is to keep posts under 500 words, so I hope I stay honest about not adding too much.

    Even so, there's so much more I would have liked to say about both the sanctity and challenges of marriage. Some of it will appear in the comments.

  5. T ~

    Your friend's wounds ... I'm at a loss for words. I've seen so many women abandoned by their husbands through divorce. I've counseled many of them. I still don't know if anything but time can mitigate the pain of that void / vacancy, chasm / gulf.

    Those four words are at the root of the Greek chēra, usually tranlated "widow," but which I would apply to any woman whose husband dies to her. Do you recall that woman's "curse" was not only the travail of childbirth (which only begins with the monthly shedding of blood), but also her desire for man, a soul desire distinctly different from man's physical drive—?

    Even so, I would balance the truth one shares with a divorced woman. Paul made abundantly clear that the woman whose husband leaves is no longer bound to him. In the same context, he said that she is happier serving the Lord if she remains unmarried. Paul qualified that the ability to remain unmarried and not burn with passion is a gift from the Lord: those without the gift should marry rather than burn; those who receive that gift should remain unmarried.


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