Biblical Assumptions

“Abraham needed more than one woman and so do I.”

It was the summer of 1995. They were the third church group I had ever hosted as the Denver City Director.  Our Tuesday evening reflection had just wrapped up and everyone was getting ready for bed when the head elder, from a well-respected church, pulled me aside to tell me his understanding of biblical marriage.

I remember everything about the moment.  The noise in the room, the shirt he was wearing and the conviction in his voice.  There was nothing about his body language that said he was trying to pull my leg.  For him the biblical definition of marriage meant that if he needed more than one woman it was within his moral rights to have more than one woman.

Last week Chick-fil-A revived a brewing controversy about the biblical definition of marriage when its company president came out against gay marriage.  As you might imagine my mind immediately went back to that evening in the summer of 1995.

Like it or not there is no biblical definition of marriage. Anyone who tells you that there is such a definition hasn’t spent time studying the bible.  There are lots of stories about marriage relationships and sexual intimacy.  However, turning a biblical story into a definition for marriage quickly becomes problematic.

Take Abraham: he not only treated his wife like a piece of property to be bought and sold, he also slept with his wife’s servant Hagar without worrying about infidelity.  Then there is Isaac, Abraham’s son, who married sisters and slept with their servants.  There are the stories of Israel’s two greatest kings, David and Solomon, who took both wives and concubines, in Solomon’s case by the 100’s.

Where does this desire to have a biblical definition for marriage come from?  Is it because we are afraid of any relationship that falls outside the cultural norm?

In 1995 I was repulsed by a man who felt he needed more than one woman.  His idea of biblical marriage seemed counter to everything that Scripture teaches about mutuality and respect.  There was a sense in which he had scripture – at least the biblical stories – on his side.  It would be hard to argue that he was in sync with God’s heart.  Dehumanizing and degrading women is counter to a faith which describes humans as creatures made in the very image of God.

Last week when I read about a Christian leader who was trying to define marriage in terms he was comfortable with I could not help but wonder why.  From my perspective his only goal was to be exclusionary.  This seems counter to the God of John 3:16.

We cross into very dangerous territory when we read into Scripture things that aren’t there.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Biblical Assumptions

  1. Philip Abeyta

    Using the references of Abraham and Solomon to give a reason why gay marriage should be supported by Christains is wrong. Abraham slept with Haggar and paid the consequence for doing so. As a matter of fact the whole world is has been affected by Abrahams decision, just look at the conflict between the Muslims and Jews. Solomon’s downfall was his lust after women, and taking wives that were not Israelites. When you support gay marriage, and use the Bible to back yourself up you are going down a dangerous road. God is clear throughout the bible that homosexuality is wrong. If you want to support a lifestyle that goes against Gods word, don’t claim that Gods word allows that lifestyle without consequences. We will reap what we sow! Does this mean that we shouldn’t love the homosexual, of course not, if we love them we will warn them that the choice to live a sexually immoral life will bring destruction, as will choosing to live in any kind of sin. When the church stops calling sin, sin, there is no longer a need for salvation. Christ died to save us from sin, and He gave us His Holy Spirit to change us, and to give us power over sin. May we be led by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

  2. Phil

    Bro, are you serious?!
    In my opinion, the Bible and Marriage are inextricably linked!
    The whole idea of marriage begins with the first book of the bible, with the first two people in the bible. In Genesis, chapter 2, beginning with verse 18, a beautiful story unfolds about marriage; “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart writes; ” Eve is given to Adam as his ‘ezer kenegdo’ – or ‘helper’…It means something far more powerful than just ‘helper’; it means ‘lifesaver’. The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately… Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally. It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given. It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together.” (page 51)
    Back to the bible, verse 21 continues with; “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because shewas taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
    Note that the bible says; “Therefore shall a ‘man’ leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his ‘wife’: and they shall be one flesh.” This biblical story of Adam and Eve is clearly centered around a marriage relationship between a man and a woman (see Ge.3:20).
    You know, without even trying, a number of Scriptures came to mind that reference marriage (see Mark 10:2-9; 1Corinthians 7:2,10,11; 1Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6; Hebrews 13:4).
    I get it, there have been some Christians, in their feeble attempt to communicate biblical truth, can and have hurt people with their perspective.
    I certainly do not want to further hurt people who are outside of God’s love and plan for their life (check out the research of those in homosexual relationships found on the internet as well as in the Bible – it’s not good!). I also don’t want to come off as exclusionary, but I sincerely do not want anyone from being excluded from God’s biblical definition of relationships- especially with Him!
    Love you! Thanks for the opportunity of sharing my thoughts.

    Phil (Big Dog)

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