What does the Bible say about marriage?

I am responding today to an article entitled, Michele Bachmann, Please, Girl, Read Your Dang Bible. Julia Ioffe writes about Michelle Bachmann’s comment on the recent Supreme Court gay marriage ruling in Minnesota. Here is Michelle’s statement as found in Minnesota Reacts to SCOTUS Decision on DOMA:

“Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted,” Bachmann said in a statement to the press. “What the Court has done will undermine the best interests of children and the best interests of the United States.”

Julia Ioffe discredits Michelle Bachmann’s statement by telling her she needs to read her Bible and by alluding to stories in the Bible of men, such as Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon, who had wives and “handmaids” and “concubines.” These accounts are in the Bible. Does this mean that God condones polygamy?

How does God view marriage? I like to think that God is not as complicated as we make him out to be. Yes, we can benefit from the work of theologians who invest their lives in defining the details of theology, but the basics are fairly clear. In the beginning God created Adam and removed a rib from his side and fashioned Eve. He brought her to Adam to be his help-mate. One woman for one man, and God saw that this was “very good.”

God evidently allowed men to have multiple wives but we also see that it wasn’t “very good,” as there was conflict and envy, not only between the wives and mistresses, but jealousy and strife between the children as well. The consequences are woven throughout the historical account and continue today. I concur that it is in the best interests of children to be raised in a home where there are two loving parents, the father and the mother.

Love letters

I think the central message of the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world….”

On my walk this morning I noticed the new leaves of Spring beginning to open on the trees. My thought was, every leaf, every flower, every blade of grass is God’s love letter to me.

I often meditate on his intricate design and what that means to me. I think about the fact that man has not been able to reproduce even one blade of grass, or one seed that will grow. But God has given us an infinite variety that will fascinate us for a lifetime. What can this be but love?

Understanding God

I look around at creation and I see the beauty, the perfection, the order, the precision, of God. Take a flower, or a tiny bug and examine it in detail. Doing so can bring me to my knees in awe and wonder. Every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree, every mountain, every ocean, every moon and star, is testimony to the character of God.

We have the knowledge that the sun is 93 million miles away and it is a continual burning fire. It is only one star within a galaxy and there are numerous galaxies with stars and planets and moons. The Bible tells us that God created the stars and in the Psalms we read that he calls them by name. The planets and stars and suns and moons are suspended at a precise distance from each other and consistently rotate and revolve at the exact speed required to maintain the balance of the universe.

When we begin to glimpse who God is, our reverence for him will be so great that we may not be able to help but fall down and worship him. Like the prophet of old, we may even despise ourselves, in light of his greatness.

How does God’s love mix with his judgment?

As you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, you will find accounts of God’s judgement. The first one is the flood of the earth destroying everyone and saving only Noah and his family in an ark.

Why would God do this? The Bible is pretty clear that it is because of the wickedness of the people. If you read through to the end of the Bible you will find many more places where God destroyed people who were bent on doing evil. He even brought enemy forces against his own chosen nation, the descendants of Abraham, when they turned from him and served idols.

Is this consistent with our concept of a loving God who is for us? Maybe not. But notice, I said, “consistent with our concept.” We say love shouldn’t do that. It makes us fearful. What if I mess up in some way? What will happen to me? Will God be angry with me and destroy me?

This is a heavy topic, but an important one. Why would I want to serve a God who becomes angry and destroys people? Some people try and solve this problem by ignoring the Old Testament, saying either that it is not true, or that it is irrelevant after Jesus came. I don’t think it’s that simple.

I’ll share with you my take on this, and you can think about it and agree or disagree. Try and picture God creating a perfect universe. Imagine you were God. You sculpted these creatures to rule your universe. You breathed life into them. You gave them everything they needed but they turned against you. Do you feel a little put out? A little angry?

I think the part that is difficult to understand is not that God destroys those who turn against him, but that he continues to endure this insolent behaviour through the millennia. There is something within his creation that is so precious and dear to him, that he keeps on searching for those few who will love him. Apparently it is worth enduring all the evil just for this.

Jesus, like Adam and Eve when they were first created, was perfect and did not sin. God was pleased with him and ultimately death could not keep him in the grave. Had Adam and Eve not sinned, they would not have died. Think of it. Their children would not have died. Generations to follow would not have died. It would have been heaven on earth, literally, with no sin and death.

This was God’s will for his creation in the beginning and it is still his will. Something has changed between the Old Testament and the New Testament, but it is not the character of God, as some people would like us to believe. What has changed is that God showed us that love is stronger than war. Laying down our lives is more effective than killing. And God set the example.

The most important thing

There are many laws in the Old Testament. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene the Jewish people were practically in bondage to their own laws. Jesus tried to simplify things for them. He told them that his yoke was easy and his burden was light. Even a little child could enter into the kingdom of God.

Jesus taught that all the laws of the Old Testament could be summed up in two laws, love God with all your heart, and love people as you love yourself. In reading the Bible it is necessary to keep these two principles of life in mind. The Bible teaches us how important it is to love God and others. We keep seeing throughout the stories that are told, that this does not come naturally to people.

One of the first verses I ever learned as a child was, “We love him because he first loved us.” The most important message of the Bible is that God loves us. He created us. He designed us. He loved his creation then and he still loves his creation now. The Bible is saturated with the love of God. His love permeates every story and every teaching.