This post is part of a series walking through the third volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace
To recap from the last post: marriage is the union of man and woman under the higher law and intersecting the spheres of “specific family,” “extended family,” church, and state. No married couple are atoms–all four spheres are involved and must cooperate to form a “true marriage.” (420-421)
In the past such cooperation happened, albeit with specific exceptions that did not alter the rule. Once the church split, the government became more active and began to loosen traditional rules, leaving us with “much confusion and conflict.” (421) This is the “danger for the Christian church.” (422)
More and more Protestant churches simply defer to the state re: marriage, marching us back to pagan views of marriage. The biggest threat here is from divorce and remarriage. [Kuyper doesn’t explain why this is the biggest threat.] More, the church needs to get out ahead of this rather than responding to actions already taken by the state. The church must be careful lest it slip here.
This applies especially to mixed marriages between believers and unbelievers.
The goal is not to compete with government. The goal is to get the church to do its job and think about marriage. The church also needs to think about married lift, not just the lead-up to marriage. Kuyper argues for complementarianism here, but also notes the cultural formation that must go on before roles in marriage can be properly filled. Kuyper ties this to society as a whole, since if marriage collapses into contractuality it will drag society down too as both authority and childrearing are thrown into chaos.
But Kuyper is also clear that this is not about power–it is about the image of the relationship between Christ and the church. Likewise, abuse must be acknowledged, but it doesn’t negate the principle.