Who Has a Right to Marry?
What think ye of the boldly expressed title of this article? Are you comfortable with the wording or are you offended? Comfortable – if you are a Christian and recognize that God indeed has the right to direct our lives, even to the extent of regulating our choice of a marriage partner. Offended – if you reject God’s right to order our lives in such a manner.
The tersely worded title thus accomplishes two objectives. First of all, it is a subtle rebuke to the moral relativists of our time who believe that marriage is an institution that should be defined and contracted according to the downward-spiraling standards of society. Secondly, it hearkens back to belief in a Creator God who has invoked a Divine standard for marriage. That standard, I believe, is contained in the New Testament and is now in force.
A concerted effort to abolish God’s marriage law has been sweeping across our nation for some time now. It is battering our shores like a tidal wave that has been approaching for several decades and has finally struck. The homosexual activist movement, begun more than 50 years ago, combined with no-fault divorce laws, radical feminism (featuring abortion rights) and the sexual revolution are now wrecking havoc on Biblical moral standards.
Recently, we have seen the high courts of the United States and other nations evoke rulings that accommodate the radical forces of change. The first blow came in June of 2003 when the Canadian Supreme Court declared the exclusivity of marriage between one man and one woman to be unconstitutional. (Cassandra Szklarski, “Ontario Appeal Court Deems Same-Sex Marriages a Protected Right,” The Canadian Press, 10 June 2003) Canada has thus joined the Netherlands and Belgium in the legalization of so called “same-sex marriage.”
Two weeks later, also in June of this year, the U.S. Supreme court struck down a Texas law prohibiting sodomy.
More recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of seven same-sex couples who were suing for the right to be legally married. Now pressure is on the Massachusetts State Legislature to pass legislation backing up the court ruling.
It can be pointed out furthermore that the true agenda of the radical gay and lesbian activists is not simply to gain legal marriage status, but to abolish marriage altogether. One pro-gay columnist recently wrote, “The solution is to end the institution of marriage, or rather, the solution is to end the institution of government monopoly on marriage. And yes, if three people want to get married, or one person wants to marry herself and someone else wants to conduct a ceremony and declare them married, let ‘em. If you and your government aren’t implicated, what do you care. If marriage were an entirely private affair, all the disputes over gay marriages would become irrelevant.” (Michael Kinsley, “Abolish Marriage; Let’s really Get the Government Out of Our Bedrooms,” Washington Post, 3 July 2003, p.A23)
As Christians, it’s not enough that we have to deal with the constant bashing of our Biblical values by the secular media, but we also see many so-called Christian denominations caving in to the pressure and falling in line with
the homosexual agenda. On August 5, 2003 the United Episcopal Church ordained its first gay bishop and on August 7, affirmed the establishment of “gay unions.” The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA and the Evangelical Lutherans of America are struggling with the same issues. The more liberal mainstream denominations, such as The United Church of Christ, the American Baptist Church and the Unitarian Universalists permit the ordination of gay clergy and bless same-sex unions in some form.
I can’t help but believe that one reason God’s marriage standards have been abandoned to the extent that they have in our culture is because so many who claim to be followers of Christ have themselves abandoned those same standards, thus failing to exemplify the beauty of Godly marriages. Combine this individual failure with the wholesale rejection of God’s authority by major churches and the world is left with nothing but disrespect and disdain for Christianity and the Word of God.
It is time to turn back to the Scriptures and remind ourselves of the simple teaching of the New Testament with regard to who has a right to marry and who does not. The Bible speaks very plainly along these lines. Marriage is not a right that anyone possesses outside of God’s authority. Marriage is a privilege and a blessing for those to whom God grants it, and it is not granted to everyone as the following points will make clear.
God grants the right of marriage to the following:
1) One Never Married In 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 God gives general authority for marriages between a man and a woman. “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.”
2) One Whose Spouse Has Died Romans 7:2-3 states, “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is not adulteress, though she be married to another man. (See also 1 Corinthians 7:39)
3) One Who Has Put Away His Wife For Adultery Matthew 19:9: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
4) A Divorced Husband and Wife Can Marry Each Other I Corinthians 7:10-11: “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband . . .”
Any marriage union contracted outside the authority expressed in the preceding verses would have to be considered unlawful. Homosexuality is clearly condemned in the Bible (Romans 1:26-27). Living together outside of marriage is also plainly condemned as fornication (Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3, etc). These scriptures also point out that those who have been divorced for any and every reason, with the exception of sexual immorality, are not free to marry again. Regardless of what the world says or even what religious leaders say, God’s Word must now and forever be our standard in deciding who has the right to marry!