Christians believe in the institution of marriage as created and ordained by God for one man and one woman. In scripture, we read,
Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24 ESV)
And Jesus himself reiterated the sanctity of marriage when he responded to questions from the Pharisees about divorce,
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6 ESV)
It goes without saying that marriage is under attack. In our current culture, same-sex marriage is the tidal wave that pushes forward into every corner of our lives. State after state has been coerced by judicial decrees to accept and acknowledge same-sex marriage, whether the majority of its citizens agree or not.
Over the last several years, marriage has morphed into some sort of convenient legal relationship between anyone who sees fit to benefit from that relationship, all pronounced so under the umbrella of love. Some will say that because of their love for each other, the right exists to enter into a marriage relationship with all of its associated benefits. The argument “because of love” could apply to anyone, any number of people, or anything.
A disturbing trend
While same-sex marriage has been a hot-button issue of late, there is a different sort of disturbing trend regarding marriage, and relationships, in general. It’s manifested in our popular culture, specifically television. Here are a few examples:
1. ABC’s Bachelor and Bachelorette. This TV show has been running now for many, many years. Essentially, one person is courted by a group of suitors of the opposite sex. Every episode, the suitors are whittled down until only two remain, when the person being courted has to choose “true love.” The end result, while fairy tale-like, leaves a trail of broken hearts in the process.
This is akin to tryouts for the baseball team. And, like baseball, if you don’t make the team, there’s much crying and whining. Pathetic.
2. VH1’s Dating Naked. I’ve not seen this show, nor will I watch. I have seen the advertisements and I’ll assume the title of the show describes the content. There’s no parallel with baseball here, unless you’ve seen the scene in Bull Durham where Nuke LaLoosh is having a nightmare that he’s pitching naked. Maybe the TV show is a nightmare…I don’t know. Again, pathetic.
3. FYI’s Married at First Sight. If you can believe this, a couple gets married – elaborate ceremony and all – and the first time they see (or talk to) each other if when the bride walks the aisle. Sounds like an odd way to go about it.
Apparently, the couple writes down characteristics they’d like in a spouse, and the’re matched up accordingly. They go through the process of planning the wedding, and then the wedding day comes…and they meet…at the altar.
So, what’s the issue here?
I suppose, if you consider all of this, and throw in online dating websites for good measure, you’ve got a good indication of what this culture thinks about marriage.
Perhaps marriage takes a back seat to career, or maybe some people just can’t get married, for whatever reason, and they resort to dating naked or skipping the dating process altogether.
In any case, marriage seems to be toyed about with like it’s just another partnership or business deal between anyone who’s willing. The German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, would disagree, and describes marriage this way:
Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to His glory, and calls into His kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal – it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. As you first gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity of the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.
There is a purpose for marriage, and marriage is an expression of much more. In the Bible, Jesus is often described as the bridegroom who will, one day, come for his Bride, the Church. Maybe – just maybe – the view of marriage in this present culture stands side by side with the relationship between this culture and God – that neither are respected, or honored, or feared, or even loved in a way that once was.
God, have mercy on us all.