Tag Archives: Union

Marriage as a Sacred Union

We have all been to weddings enough to know the standard introduction. It generally goes like this.
Dearly beloved we are gathered together before God and these witnesses to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.
You have heard it many times but its my guess that you have never given much thought to what it means. What does it mean to be joined together in Holy Matrimony? Well let’s take a look at it. We will look at the word matrimony first. It is easy matrimony means marriage, a joining together. But marriage isn’t just any union. It is a “holy” union. So what does holy mean. It mean sacred, or separated for a special purpose. Generally it means separated to God for a special purpose.
So what makes marriage special or holy?
The following list is qualities of a marriage the way that God intended it. As you read through the list you will likely think of marriages that don’t meet these standards. Most likely you will realize that those marriages are typically in serious trouble or the husband and wife have developed a way of tolerating one another but not truly uniting.
MARRIAGE IS AN EXCEPTIONAL RELATIONSHIP
Marriage is not like other relationships, it is special. We hold our marriages above other relationships. We hold marriage in higher esteem. If it is a choice between either our marriage relationship, or other earthly relationships there is no contest the marriage relationship always wins out.
MARRIAGE IS AN EXCLUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
This understanding is usually viewed in terms of sex. We expect or at least hope that people will be sexually intimate with their spouse and their spouse alone. We even talk of this in terms of faithfulness. That is being faithful to your marriage vows. Exclusivity in marriage includes things beyond sex. We expect marriage to include other intimate aspects beyond sex. This includes other physical behavior, sharing secrets and personal revelations, and shared experiences. There is a level of friendship in marriage that is unique and should not be shared outside of marriage. A husband or wife will become jealous if their spouse becomes too intimate in a friendship with someone else; and rightfully so.
MARRIAGE IS ORDAINED BY GOD
Most of us are familiar with the Biblical account of Adam and Eve found in Genesis chapter 2. God creates Adam and later says that “It is not good that man should be alone…” so He creates Eve. Scripture says that the two became one flesh. Often we see this as referring to the sexual union, and it does, but there is something deeper. The woman was taken out of man. A man and woman were created as one. Unity is their natural state. They were always designed to function as one.
Jesus alludes to Adam and Eve when He talks about God’s intent in marriage. He says, that the man and woman became one flesh. Then He adds “What God has joint together let no man put asunder.” This phrase is often included in the marriage ceremony. The point is that a marriage is not simply a union of a man and woman. Marriage is a holy union, ordained by God.
There are two sides to this. One is that marriage is not to be entered into lightly. It should reflect a relationship that is honoring to God. In the Old Testament people were required to bring a sacrifice to the Temple, but they could not bring just any lamb as a sacrifice. They were required to bring a lamb that was healthy, and without defects. The sacrifice was holy to the Lord. In the same way a marriage union has some requirements that make it holy. The basic requirement is to not ‘be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever’. This is both an Old Testament and a New Testament concept. The Jews were not allowed to marry persons from the surrounding unbelieving nations. A marriage is a union that is dedicated to the Lord and as such it is to be structured in a way that is honoring to Him.
The second aspect of a marriage ordained by God is that once the marriage union is created it is considered a relationship created by God. In the same way that a person could not dedicate a sacrifice to the Lord and then take it back; a marriage union is one direction. It is a union holy to God and must not be taken back. This is one of the reasons that often in the marriage ceremony you hear, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:6). Because God is the one that ordained marriage, the marriage union is an act of God. For man to break that union is to act against God; or worst yet it is to usurp God’s authority.
We understand that God is holy. Part of the holiness of God is that certain things are under His authority alone. One of those is life. God gives life and God takes life. For us to take life is to step beyond our realm of authority (except for some specific cases where God delegates that authority). Another area is vengeance; God says, “Vengeance is Mine says the Lord”. For us to take vengeance is to step beyond our realm of authority. The same is true of marriage. Marriage is the realm of God. Marriage is holy and there should be the understanding that to enter into marriage is to enter into the realm of God. Marriage is not ours it is God’s and He allows us to participate in His holy union.
MARRIAGE IS AN EARTHLY LIVING OUT OF A HEAVENLY REALITY
The temple of the Old Testament was the most Holy place on earth and yet scripture says that it was just a reflection of the true Temple which is in heaven. See Hebrews 8:1-6. The same is true of marriage. Marriage is holy because it is a reflection of a heavenly relationship. Often in scripture God talks about His relationship with Israel in terms of marriage. He speaks of Israel’s unfaithfulness and His unfailing love. In the New Testament Marriage is an illustration of the relationship between Christ and the Church. This is not just a convenient illustration, like Paul saying to himself, “what could I use here as a good analogy”. No. It is so much more than that. Marriage was designed by God from the beginning to be a living illustration of His relationship to us. He has His hands all over it.
Ephesians 5, and other scriptures, gives a pattern for marriage based on Christ’s relationship to the Church. Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her. The husband is to love his wife with the same type of self-sacrificial love. The Church is the body of Christ. The husband is to care for his wife in the same way he would care for his own body; nourishing it and cherishing it. The Church is the body of Christ In the world; doing His will and accomplishing His purposes. In the same way the wife is the help meet to her husband seeking to accomplish his will.
There are so many things that are just beautiful about this. We are given the privilege of living out a spiritual reality in our daily lives. We are given a pattern ordained by God for a successful marriage. We live at a crossing point between the physical and the spiritual. We get to experience a physical, earthly relationship that gives us deep insights into a parallel relationship that we have with Christ. It doesn’t stop there. The family that comes out of marriage is also a, holy, living illustration of heavenly relationships.
To live out marriage in a way that properly reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church is a holy experience. To live out marriage in a way that is contrary to God’s holy design is to distort the image of God. It is a form of blasphemy.
The goal of Satan is to discredit God in any way he can. Satan wants to tear down and distort the image of God. He wants to attack anything that is holy. I believe that Satan is working overtime to completely destroy marriage at every level.
Marriage is a Holy union before God. It is time for us to recognize that marriage is holy and to treat it as holy. We must stand against those who would seek to defile and degrade marriage and make it anything less than a Sacred Union.