In my day job I am a paraprofessional at the local middle school. Yesterday in the Science class I help in we watched a video on the outer planets. A great deal of the video dealt with the demotion of Pluto from being a planet. Now it is considered a dwarf planet. Basically what happened is that astronomers decided on a new definition of what a planet is, and Pluto no longer fits into that definition. Pluto did not change, but the definition of a planet did.
The definitions of words is rarely ever stable. Over the years the meanings of words change to fit the current usage of that word by the culture. One word that has gone through this transformation is the word marriage. Marriage is the word we use to describe the relationship of Adam and Eve. It is the word we use to describe the relationship of Solomon and his thousands of wives. It is the word that is now being applied to the state sanctioned relationship of homosexual couples. The word marriage now encompasses all of these ideas.
While the definition of marriage has changed to fit the image of marriage in the culture, God’s ideal has not. Remember, just because something is recorded in the Bible doesn’t mean that is God’s will for people. Many of the heroes of faith we read about in the Old Testament had very dysfunctional families and marriages. We should not look at these marriages and families as God’s ideal. In fact, they are most helpful to us when we consider their dysfunction.
God’s ideal for the building blocks of civilization has always been a man and woman partnered together in faith, worship, purpose, and love. Consider the mission God originally gave Adam and Eve; Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground” (Genesis 1:28; NLT).
Reading Genesis chapter 2 we discover that outside of the Garden God created the world was a wild place. God gave people the responsibility of going into this wild world and civilizing it. This civilization process begins with good stewardship practices and the creation of families. The foundation of civilization is the partnership of a man and a women in faith, worship, purpose, and love. The name we give this partnership is irrelevant when we remember that it is God’s ideal.
In the Gospels we discover that Jesus endorses this partnership of a man and a woman:
“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (Matthew 19:4-6; NLT)
God formed men and women so they can be joined in a partnership for His Kingdom. This one flesh relationship that is formed between a man and a woman is not only a reference to sexual intimacy, but also to the common faith, worship, purpose, and love that is needed in bringing civilization to the world.
We live in a very uncivilized world. By that I mean we live in a world that is in out of harmony with God’s love and peace. From the everyday crime that happens, to the wars that rage around the world, to the oppression that keeps so many people hungry and near death our world is not a civilized place.
How do we make it civilized? The only way to civilize the world is to do God’s will here on Earth as it is done in Heaven. It is ushering God’s Kingdom into this world. We do that by making more disciples of Jesus. Within the God ordained partnership of a man and a woman, that is labeled as marriage, this discipleship making is commonly seen in the raising of children. Because there are so many people in the world that grew up without the influence of Christian parents, discipleship making is extended through the influence we have with other people.
Christian marriage, the partnership of a man and a woman, is the foundation of civilization. It is what God uses to help bring His Kingdom into this world. As that happens the world experiences more of God’s love and peace, and it becomes a more civilized place.