Many Christians today love to say that they stand for the Biblical idea of marriage. By that, they do not refer to the polygamy of Abraham, or David, or Solomon. They do not mean marrying two sisters as Jacob did. No, they usually mean the sort of “Biblical” marriage that Jesus talks about in Matthew 19.
As proof that Jesus saw marriage as being between one man and one woman, they point to one verse in the Matthew 19 where the Pharisees try to trap Jesus by asking him about divorce. In response to the question of whether or not it is “lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason”, Jesus gives an answer that reminds them of the fact that God’s original intention was that the two would become one flesh. How could anyone separate them if they were both one flesh?
This is the entire point Jesus is trying to make.
Yet, somehow, Christians are convinced that Jesus was speaking out against gay marriage, or defining marriage as between a man and a woman only.
But, the question wasn’t about gay marriage. The question was about whether a man – who is already married to a woman – is allowed to divorce her “for any and every reason.”
Note that, a few verses later, when Jesus suggests that a man should not divorce his wife for any reason except sexual immorality, the disciples respond by saying:
“If this is the way it’s going to be, it’s better not to marry at all!” [v.10]
Imagine that. The disciples think that, if a man can’t divorce a woman any time he feels like, for any reason at all, there’s no point in being married.
This should give you an idea of what the First Century idea of marriage was. Or, at least, the male idea of marriage at that time.
But, notice that the Pharisees don’t ask about whether it’s lawful for a woman to divorce her husband. That’s because a woman had no such right. She was property. The man had all the power.
Jesus is responding the way he does to their question because he is attempting to restore this unbalanced relationship. His answer is meant to give women peace of mind. He wants the husband to love his wife as he loves himself and to put himself in her position – to see things from her point of view; to consider her vulnerability above his own convenience and pleasure.
A divorce for a woman at that time was essentially a death sentence. Usually, an older woman was cast aside by her husband so that he might take a younger wife. This meant that the older woman’s chances of remarrying were quite slim. Begging or prostitution were her only options, in that case.
Jesus knows this and he is trying to change that.
However: The passage is not about marriage. It’s about divorce. But, Christians want this passage to be about marriage.
Yet, there IS another place in the Bible that gives us an idea of what Jesus thinks about marriage. It’s actually surprising that Christians don’t refer to these verses more often when it comes to marriage. Especially considering that it appears in the book of Revelation which many Christians can’t seem to get enough of.
In Revelation, we read about Jesus’s impending marriage to his precious Bride. In fact, all of creation – all of history itself – is leading us to this inevitable end time event: The Marriage Feast of the Lamb!Now, Jesus, as we know, is the Lamb of God. He is preparing for himself a Bride who is spotless. This Bride is the Church. (That’s us). Jesus loves the Bride and has given up his life for his Bride.
So, all of the Bible points to this beautiful love story between God and His creation; and between Jesus and his Bride. And, one day soon, Jesus will appear in the sky. He will finally draw his Bride to himself. He will carry her away to the New Jerusalem to live forever and ever.
All of scripture is a beautiful love story between Jesus and His Bride.
But, if the Bride of Christ is the Church, then that means that the Bride of Christ is approximately 50% male.
So, one day, very soon, Jesus will marry billions of men [and women] in the largest marriage ceremony the universe has ever known.
What does Jesus have to say about same-sex marriages? I think he affirms them. Especially since, one day, he will say “I do” to billions of other men who make up a very large portion of His beloved Bride.
What do you think?
Keith Giles is the author of several books, including “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is also the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.
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