what marriage is ordained by god? - The Church Of Christ, 15 Grey

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INTRODUCTION
The contraction of Marriage, and marriage
ceremonies have become very controversial
subjects in the church today. This is because of the
conflicting and confusing teachings and opinions
by some preachers and teachers of the bible in the
church. This is much more compounded by the
practices of our denominational friends around us
in their various churches, which some of our
brethren, youths in particular want us to emulate.
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To properly educate our youths and make them
see reasons why they must follow only that which
is approved by God, I will endeavour to lay a
premise or a foundation as background to
understanding this lesson.
BACKGROUND
We all agree that marriage is one of the oldest
institutions in the world ordained by God (Gen.
2:24 - For this reason a man shall leave his father
and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they
shall become one flesh).
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But the key issue here is: which of the marriages
did God ordain? Is it traditional marriage, Church
marriage or Court/Registry marriage? We must first
understand that we Christians are bound by the law of
God, and are to be guided by the word of God in
everything, and as it relates to the issue of marriage in
particular.
UNDERSTANDING THE WAYS OF GOD
We must not forget that God’s ways are not man’s
ways; and as the heavens are higher than the earth so
are God’s ways and God’s thoughts higher than that of
man (Isa. 55:8-9).
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The wisdom of God most times seems
foolishness to the carnal mind, thus, they often try
to evolve new ideas to counter or wanting to
improve upon what God has done. But the
scripture says, no one can improve upon God’s
ways. No one can make straight what God has
made crooked (Eccl. 7:13). No one can be God’s
counsellor or adviser (Rom. 11:33-34, 1Cor.2:16).
This is because even the foolishness of God is
wiser than man (1Cor. 1:25). Thus, the carnal
mind cannot please God (Rom. 8:7-8).
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HOW TO KNOW THE MARRIAGE GOD
ORDAINED
To know that which God has ordained for us
to do, we need to study the Bible to find it out.
For the scripture is given by the inspiration of
God to direct man’s activities and actions here on
earth in all his relationship with fellow man and
God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Any practice or doctrine
not commanded by God will amount to
lawlessness and sin (Mt. 15:9, 2 Jn. 9-11).
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Therefore, Bible scholars have been very
careful to seek out how to know the mind of
God as to the things God wants us to do and
that which we must not do. Thus, the following
principles have been identified to knowing how
God speaks to us, and how we can arrive at
activating scriptural authority to practice any
doctrine/teaching in the church, which are:
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• Direct commands
By direct commands, we mean very clear and
unambiguous instructions by God in the bible
commanding us to do something or not to do
something. For example God told Noah to build
an Ark of Gopher wood (Gen. 6:14). This
command to Noah is direct and specific. Thus,
this principle states that, when God specifies a
particular way to do a thing, every other
possible ways are excluded.
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Thus, it would have been wrong if Noah had used
Mahogany, Cedar etc. This is the same reason why we
believe that, there is only “one church approved by
God”, which is the church of Christ, because Christ says
“upon this rock I will build my church”, (Mt. 16:18). So,
Christ has specified his church, therefore, no other
church will be acceptable to God and to us.
• Approved examples
By approved examples, we mean in cases where we
do not have direct commands to practice or not to
practice a particular doctrine
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in the church, we look for examples of how such
things were done in the bible, especially in the
early church by the apostles. The idea is, if the
apostles could do it, then it must be approved of
God because they were divinely inspired. And if
we copy their examples we cannot go wrong or
offend God. This is why we quote Acts 20:7 to
observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. This
principle is also used in the judiciary, called:
case-laws or judicial precedence, whereby
previous higher court
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decisions are cited as examples to arrive at a
judgment in a similar case in law.
• Necessary Inferences
An inference is where a thing, an idea, a
teaching is not clearly stated in the bible nor is
there any example to follow, but there are clear
scriptural indications to enable us draw
necessary conclusions or deductions as to what
we can teach and practice to please God in the
circumstance.
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For example, we saw where Philip the
evangelist is said to have simply “preached
Jesus” to the Ethiopian Eunuch, and thereafter
the eunuch said, “See here is water what hinders
me to be baptized”? From his question, we can
conclusively infer that, Philip must have told
him he must be baptized in water to be saved.
A conclusion which is not stated in the
conversation (Acts 8:36-38).
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Another conclusion we can reach is that, to
preach Jesus correctly, it must of necessity
include baptism. Even if there were no other
bible passages that talk about baptism, this
singular bible passage alone is enough to make it
stand as a doctrine in the church. The application
of the above principles to the subject matter is
that, any of the three marriages: traditional,
church, or court/registry that is not supported
by the bible either by direct command, approved
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example or necessary inference can be accepted
as a bible method of marriage for Christians.
EXAMINING THE THREE (3) METHODS OF
MARRIAGE IN THE LIGHT OF THE
SCRIPTURES
TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE - By traditional
marriage we mean a marriage in which the
family has the exclusive right to give out their
daughter in marriage and is received by the
groom and the groom’s family,
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after the necessary requirements have been
fulfilled. Our duty is to examine the bible to see
if the method of marriage by the people of God
both in Old and New Testaments describe or
are synonymous with this type of marriage. In
doing this, we must not forget that Jesus refers
to the beginning when dealing with the issue
of marriage (Mt. 19:5, cf Gen. 2:24).
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In other words, in the matters of marriage both O.T
and N.T examples are binding, except where there
are ouster clauses by Christ (Mt. 19:3-8). Jesus says,
“For this cause, a man shall leave his father and
mother and cleave to his wife…”
(Mt. 19:5).
This implies that, in the marriage of any child, the
role of the father and mother is the most
important. That is, the acceptance, approval and
blessings of your marriage by your father and
mother is the most important thing before
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God, and not the blessing of any other person or
institution. Those are secondary. The bible says,
“Honour your father and your mother; which is the
first commandment with promise. That it may be well
with you, and you will live long on earth” (Exd. 20:12,
Eph. 6:2-3). Marriage is one important occasion of
your life where you give honour to your parents.
•Bible Examples of Traditional Marriages
•Abraham’s son, Isaac was given Rebecca in marriage
after having sought and received acceptance, paid
bride price, and received
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blessing from her parents (Gen. 24:49-61). “Yes, I
do,” should be a response to parents’ questions
and not to a pastor’s or court clerk’s question of
whether one agrees to marry the other or not
(Gen. 24:57-58).
•Jacob was given Rachael in marriage after having
sought for acceptance from her parents and paid
her bride price of seven years service (Gen. 29:1821).
•Joseph married Mary the mother of our Lord after
fulfilling the same procedure (Mt. 1:18-19).
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•The parable of the wedding feast shows a king
who made marriage for his son and invited
guests to attend the wedding (Mt. 22:2-3).
•Paul says, a virgin, a girl must be given out in
marriage by “he” who has the power to do so
(1Cor. 7:38).
In all of the above examples in the bible,
nowhere did we find how God commanded the
high priest, evangelist, bishop or the church to
conduct marriages for the people of God.
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And we must respect God’s silence in this aspect of
our lives. In the O.T, we have instructions concerning
“child’s dedication and circumcision” (Lev. 12:1-8),
but there is none regarding how to conduct marriage
and marriage ceremony. God left this for individual
families to decide across cultures and tribes. However,
where any culture contradicts the laws of God, such
culture and tradition must be rejected. The traditional
marriage system ordained by God predates the advent
of Christianity and modern civil governments and
their courts.
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•CHURCH MARRIAGE IN THE LIGHT OF THE
SCRIPTURES
Marriage is ordained of God, and God has given the
church so much instruction on how matters relating to
marriage should be handled. However, these
instructions have more to do with teaching and
instructions on how marriage should be entered into
and how to live in marriage to please God. There is no
single instruction to the church on how the church
should conduct or contract marriages for her
members. The church is to teach the following:
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•Marriage is honourable, and the bed must not be
defiled before and after marriage (Heb. 13:4). To avoid
fornication, let every man have his own wife and every
woman her own husband (1Cor. 7:2).
•Marriage is between one man and one woman; not
polygamy, not man and man (homosexuality), or
woman and woman (lesbianism) (Mt. 19: 5,
Gen. 2:24).
•Marriage is for life, until death do you part (Rom. 7:23, 1Cor. 7:39).
•Divorce is not allowed except for adultery (Mt. 5:3132, Mt. 19:3-6).
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•Divorce is not allowed except for adultery (Mt.
5:31-32, Mt. 19:3-6). Those who separate from
their husbands or wives must remain
unmarried or be reconciled (1Cor. 7:10-11).
•Let the husband render due benevolence to his
wife: and likewise the wife unto her husband
(1Cor. 7: 3). The husband is the head of the
wife as Christ is the head of the church (Eph.
5:23). A husband should love his wife as Christ
love the church (Eph. 5:25, 33, Col. 3:19).
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A wife should submit to, obey and love her
husband as she would submit to and obey
Christ (Eph. 5:22,24, 33, Col. 3:18, Titus 2:4).
•Young widows should remarry, only in the
Lord (1Cor. 7:39, Rom. 7:2-4, 1Tim. 5:14). All
these must be taught in the church, and by the
church.
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•Arguments for Church Wedding or
Marriage
Proponents of church marriage have argued
that, if God ordained marriage, and has given so
much instructions in the Bible on how marriage
life should be lived before and after marriage,
then, is the church where God’s words is taught
not the best place for marriage to be contacted
and marriage ceremonies conducted?
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This reasoning may seem sound to the ear.
However, we must not forget that the church
must speak only where the bible speaks and be
silent where the Bible is silent. The church
cannot act where the Bible has not given
instructions. That will be using human opinion to
arrive at a doctrine in the church. That will be
adding to the word of God which is forbidden
(Rev. 22:18-20). That will be sinful and
consequently leads to vain worship (Mt. 15:9,
2Jn. 9-11).
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Again, besides marriage and marriage related issues,
the Bible equally teaches on various issues without the
church necessarily getting involved in them. These are
as follows:
•The church teaches parents on how to bring up their
children in the fear of the Lord, but the church does
not go to peoples home to train their children for them
(Eph. 6:2-4).
•The church teaches her members to obey civil laws
and pay taxes to the government, but the church does
not collect taxes for the government from her
members (Rom. 13:1-7).
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•The church teaches how a husband should
behave towards his wife and the wife towards
her husband, but the church does not get
involved in the day to day running of peoples
home (1Cor. 7:3-5). And so on.
The point here is that, the argument that because
the church or the bible teaches much about
marriage and marriage related issues makes the
church the best institution to join people together
in marriage is not a scriptural argument.
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The second argument of church marriage
proponents is that, Jesus Christ himself attended
a wedding ceremony in Cana, and donated wine
to support the celebrant when the need arose
(Jn. 2:1-11). Therefore, it is scriptural for the
church to contract, and conduct marriage
ceremonies.
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This argument is not scriptural for the
following reasons:
•That bible passage did not tell us that the
marriage took place in the synagogue or in the
church. Note: the church was not established
yet.
•The bible passage did not tell us that Jesus
Christ or any other man of God was the
officiating minister that joined the couples
together.
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•The scripture is very clear that Christ, his mother
and his apostles were invited guests at the wedding
ceremony. We can conclude that the celebrants were
either one of his disciples or a family friend.
•The inference we can make here is that, based on this
example of Christ honouring a wedding invitation with
his disciples implies that, today, any brother or sister
marrying can invite the brethren to their marriage
ceremonies, and the brethren should attend, support
the couples and give them gifts as Christ gave wine.
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Contentious Issue of Using The Church Hall
for Marriage Ceremonies
This is another contentious issue in the church
of Christ today. The proponents of church
marriages say, the church hall is not a holy
place as the O.T Temple was. Therefore, eating,
drinking and dancing in celebration of
marriages of members in the church hall are
not wrong.
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This argument is wrong in the light of the
scriptures for the following reasons:
•The church hall is the house of prayers and an
environment built for Spiritual activities. Therefore, as
much as possible, social activities should be taken
away to social environments such as event halls. The
same reason why Jesus chased out the money
changers from the house of prayer (Mt. 21:12,13).
•Buying and selling and marrying and giving in
marriage were parts of the social activities of the
world in the days of Noah and Sodom (Lk. 17:26-30).
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•Marriage is not a church ordinance, and the church
does not have any scriptural authority to conduct
marriages in the church.
•If the church has no scriptural right to conduct
marriages, but uses the church hall to celebrate
wedding ceremonies to be attended by both believers
and unbelievers alike, to eat and dance in, is that not
gross inconsistency and self deceit, and an act of using
your teeth to share a meat you claim to forbid? What
moral right would we have to tell the unbelievers that,
we do not practice church wedding?
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The wedding ceremony or reception should be held in
halls other than the church hall. There, the minister or
bishop can be called to pray or admonish. This does
not make a church service as we are commanded to
pray everywhere (Lk. 18), and every time. We must
not allow our wedding celebrations to be wild and
riotous as the worldly people would. Our marriage
ceremonies must be conducted with simplicity,
decency and decorum devoid of worldliness. Night
parties where the unfruitful works of darkness takes
place must be avoided (Eph. 5:11).
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• COURT/REGISTRY MARRIAGE
The court or registry marriage is instituted
by government to regulate and give legal
backing to marriage. The law also recognizes
the traditional marriage system.
Therefore, if you go to the court to get married
without the approval of your parent, it is wrong.
If your parents happen go to court to challenge
the marriage, they will be given a favourable
judgment against you.
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This is why before the marriage is pronounced,
they usually ask the question, “If there is anyone
who has a reason to say this marriage should not
hold, he/she should speak out now or be silent
forever”. If anyone in that instance raises
objection to the marriage, it will be put on hold.
God instructs us to obey the government of the
day (Rom. 13:1-5).
But if a government law contradict that of God,
we should obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
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Court/registry marriage requires swearing
by the Bible, which is contrary to the law of God
(Mt. 5:33-37, James 5: 12). Although
affirmation is allowed. Court/registry gives
room for divorce if any party wants to, for any
reason, which is contrary to the law of God (Mt.
19:5).
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SUMMARY
From all that we have discussed above, we can
safely conclude that, the marriage that God ordained
from the beginning is the traditional marriage. It
predates the advent of Christianity, and there is not a
scripture in the N.T abolishing it. It predates modern
government which prescribed court/registry marriage.
That is why any marriage contacted before one
becomes a Christian is acceptable as long as it is in line
with the word of God. Christians should therefore be
satisfied with that which God has ordained.
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However, Christians can register their marriages
with government just for the purpose of registration,
not that it adds any spiritual value to your marriage
which has already been accented to by God. It is just
like registering your new born child to obtain a birth
certificate, even as you register the death to obtain
death certificate.
As for the church, it has no scriptural authority to
conduct marriage and permit marriage ceremonies at
the church hall. Any Christian rejoicing should invite
his brethren to rejoice with him or her (Rom. 10:12,
James 5:13).
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Social activities such as marriage ceremonies
that bring both unbelievers and Christians
together should be taken to social
environments. This is to avoid confusing the
world that the Church is the one conducting the
marriage in the church hall. It is not expedient
to use the church hall for marriage ceremonies.
May God grant us the understanding and the
humility to accept His will in Jesus Name!
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