By LEVI M. CASTRO
GOD HIMSELF instituted marriage. This biblical teaching shows that marriage, and the family that results from such a union, are not just man-made institutions. Hence it is but proper and fitting for people to make resolute efforts in safeguarding their stability. As such, one of the foci of concerned countries and organizations, such as the UN, is the protection and preservation of the family. They know very well that when this basic social unit disintegrates or becomes dysfunctional, for sure, that will lead to serious consequences.
Scholars of family studies note that there is no other social unit that can fulfill the vital functions that the family performs for society. They say that, as the first social group to which the individual is exposed, the family is the link between the individual and the larger society. Its influence on personality and character is pervasive, and it is a major agent in the transmission of culture (Medina, Belen T. G. The Filipino Family, pp. 2, 7) especially the fundamental values.
‘Let not man separate’
Taking a biblical perspective makes us discern that preserving the family starts with preserving marriage. Sad to say, many people today do not accord marriage its true meaning and value by living together like what husbands and wives do without the benefit of marriage, or by divorcing or separating from their spouse. For true Christians, however, the union of husband and wife through marriage is sacred, holy, and inviolable. Furthermore, there is a deeper truth to be learned concerning the bond of marriage that has something to do with our salvation.
And because it is God who instituted marriage and the family, it is His laws concerning these that ought to be followed, especially now that many problems beset families. This is the law that God decreed concerning the union of a man and a woman in marriage since the beginning according to the Lord Jesus Christ:
“…He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female, 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’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. ” (Matt. 19:4-6, New King James Version)
It is against the will of God for a man and woman to live together as though they were husband and wife without God’s blessing or sanctioning by marriage. Even if others may consider it socially or culturally acceptable, only those who have been joined by God through marriage, can live as true husband and wife, and God’s law is clear that “what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
How does God unite a man and a woman through marriage? He binds them by means of His laws and ordinances, which they ought to fulfill:
“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. 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.” (Rom. 7:2-3, Ibid.)
Marriage, therefore, is a lifetime covenant that must be governed by God’s laws. Hence, before anyone decides to get married, he or she should give this a serious thought. If grave problems arise after marriage, the husband and the wife cannot simply separate and live with someone else. Doing so while the spouse is still alive, is committing an act of adultery, and, those who practice such a thing “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19, 21, Ibid.) and shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8, Ibid.). Therefore, it is a grave sin, a capital offense, in God’s sight to separate from one’s spouse, and live with someone else while he or she is still alive. God also decreed:
“… A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” (I Cor. 7:10-11, New International Version)
God Hates divorce
What if marital problems arise? Divorce or separation is not the solution. The husband and the wife should put aside their differences, and let God’s will prevail and be the guideline and the foundation of their marital relationship, their “common ground.”
Others may argue that they are already divorced and, therefore, free from any marital responsibility and can remarry according to the laws of a particular country. God, however, declares:
“I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel. "I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife.” (Mal. 2:16, Today’s English Version)
This is why for the true people of God, His law reigns definite and supreme—that man should not separate those who have been joined together by Him.
This law of God does not just apply to the kind of marriage that people commonly understand. As mentioned, there is a deeper truth to be learned concerning the marriage bond.
Also joined by God to be one
There are people whom the Apostle Paul refers to as “called [by God] into the fellowship of His Son” (I Cor. 1:9, NKJV. The Jerusalem Bible renders the verse: “ … God by calling you has joined you to His Son …” Those who were called by God were joined together with Christ, so that they became one. Apostle Paul explains further:
“ … you are like a pure virgin whom I have promised in marriage to one man only, Christ himself.” (II Cor. 11:2, TEV)
In this verse, Apostle Paul was referring to Christ and those who were promised n marriage to Him. They are the ones who are “lawfully” bound to Christ:
“That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will be one. This is a great mystery. (I’m talking about Christ’s relationship to the church.)” (Eph. 5:31-32, God’s Word)
Joined together by God, Christ and His Church for whom He gave His life are a “married couple.” That Church is none other than the Church of Christ:
“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)
Being Christ’s spouse, the Church of Christ is the one that has a relationship with Him and is joined to Him. And so, those who say that they have already accepted Christ but refuse the Church of Christ are practically trying to separate Him from His spouse, and are in effect violating God’s law that no man should separate those who have been joined together by God. Christ will never acknowledge as His those who say that they are related to Him, yet are not in His Church, His spouse, because it would be an “illegal” or “illicit” relationship for anyone to have relationship with one who is not his legal spouse. How firm and strong is the bond or relationship between Christ and His Church? Christ values and loves the Church so much:
“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” (Eph. 5:25, TEV)
Christ loved the Church that He provides and takes care for the need of His Church (Eph. 5:29) and even gave his life for it. But, the irony is that there are those who cast aspersions to the Church, persecute it, and want it destroyed by making a mockery out of God’s plan and are deceiving others by preaching that it is enough to accept the Lord Jesus and that the Church is no longer needed. Such acts are truly violative of God’s will because Christ and His Church are together even in God’s plan regarding the way salvation is achieved:
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21, NKJV, [See also Living Bible Translation])
These biblical truths prove the importance of being in the Church “married” to Christ in order to be joined together with Him in God’s sight. Hence, one needs to enter the true Church of Christ, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ. And once inside the true Church of Christ, one must continue to abide in Christ by obeying God’s commandments. By this, one is assured of salvation and of entrance into the Holy City (Rev. 21:1-4), a place prepared for Christ’s spouse.
Pasugo God’s Message/July 2006/Volume 58/Number 7/ ISSN 0116-1636/Pages 12-13
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