Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Heb 13:4)

by Steven Chan
24 April 2011

In Nov. 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from civil marriage was unconstitutional. Later on, the court stated that “segregating same-sex unions from opposite-sex unions cannot possibly be held rationally to advance or preserve” the governmental aim of encouraging “stable adult relationships for the good of the individual and of the community, especially its children.” Hence, the state of Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in May 2004.

The court justifies same sex marriage on the basis that it is not rational to do otherwise if one wishes to advance or preserve “stable adult relationships for the good of all”. Have they considered how marriage came about? What was the origin of marriage?

If marriage was not instituted or designed by God then man can make whatever rules they want as regards marriage – just like what the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has done above in justifying same sex marriage. I wonder whether it will lead later on to other forms of marriage of different partners.

The truth is that marriage was designed by God. In Matt 19:3-10, when Jesus was asked:
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 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’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” 10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

God designed marriage for companionship, helpmeet and procreation. Gen 2:18: “And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Gen 1:27-28 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…” Later on, the apostle Paul elaborated in 1 Cor 7:1-2 thus: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” Thus, marriage is also for the purpose of avoiding sexual immorality.

God’s law for marriage is a life-long commitment as is stated in Rom 7:2-4: “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”

God intended for marriage to be between male and female as a life-long commitment and partnership. Same-sex marital relationship is expressly condemned in Romans 1:26-28. When man rejects God, then “for this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting…” Same-sex marital relationship is described as a product of a debased mind and as doing things which are not fitting.

Marriage is honourable but fornicators and adulterers, God will judge (Heb 13:4) – in other words, man cannot simply make his own rules on marriage. God will judge those who violate His law on marriage.

The Bible clearly states that “while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress” (Rom 7:3). It does not matter how happy the second marriage may be relative to the first marriage; it does not matter that she was not aware of God’s law on marriage as ignorance of law is no excuse; it does not matter whether it stabilises (or otherwise) the adult relationship for the good of all, including the children. John the baptizer lost his head after he told King Herod in Mark 6:18: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” The King could make his own laws but so long as they are not compatible with God’s law, he will be judged accordingly – likewise with the laws that the courts may promulgate. Man cannot ignore or put aside God’s law on marriage and make our own laws as regards what may constitutes acceptable marriage. That which is unacceptable in God’s sight is still wrong regardless of what the law of the land may say.

In Matt 5:32, Jesus said: “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” There is only one permitted ground for divorce: that is, adultery or sexual immorality. Please note that Jesus said that the husband, who divorces his wife for any other reason other than because of her sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery – necessarily implying if she enters into another relationship including remarriage – and because in God’s sight she is still married to her former husband (the marriage being a life-long commitment), she was not free to be married to anyone else.

In Luke 16:18, Jesus said: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Remarriages of those who were not permitted to divorce, constitute adultery. That’s God’s law as plainly stated.

In Matt 19:9 only one ground for divorce is permitted: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” The Matthew 19:9 passage implies that the only party who may re-marry without committing adultery is the husband who divorces his wife for sexual immorality – only he may remarry without committing adultery – implying also that she who is divorced because of her sexual immorality does not have the same permission for re-marriage without committing adultery.

Consistent with what is stated in Rom 7:1-3, the Bible states in 1 Cor 7:39: “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” It is expressly stated here that if her husband is alive, she is NOT at liberty to be married to whom she wishes.

God has very explicit laws governing marriage and we will do well to remember them and to respect God’s law so that we do not displease Him and be judged accordingly. The world has changed its laws pertaining to marriage, divorce and remarriage – and we need to be careful that we are not influenced by their liberal ideas. Our youths especially need to resist this temptation as worldly influence in this area is getting stronger each day via the law courts and more insidiously via the movies and TV dramas, shows and newspapers.