Marriage & sex are hot topics in the Bible. With all this talk about gay ‘marriage’ and divorce as the norm, I realized that I had never done an article on marriage in the Bible. I’ve had some people say, “Yeah, like God really cares who sleeps with whom, right?” only, with worse grammar and even worse slang. Friends, God cares about sex and marriage very much and he has excellent reasons for doing so. If you are not a regular reader of the Bible, you can’t really understand how much or why.In fact, marriage is so important that our relationship with God is symbolized as a marriage between Jesus and the Church in the Bible. Jesus is portrayed as the perfect ‘Bridegroom’ and we, the People in the Church, are portrayed as the beautiful, pure Bride. In fact, this metaphor is used throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Even Heaven is compared to a wedding banquet that God, the Father, is giving for his Son and his new Bride. (on a side note, have you ever thought why gay marriage might be one of satan’s favorite ways to stick his finger in God’s eye? Instead of Christ’s beautiful bride, the entire population of Christians in the world, all Jesus gets is a dude in drag? Just sayin’…)
Apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” 1 Cor. 6:15
God created the Bible to be one of the most miraculous pieces of literature on the face of the Earth. Even though all the authors are separated by hundreds of miles (if not thousands), hundreds of years (if not thousands), language and culture they manage to tell the exact same story. Not only the same story, but the same narrative and meta-narrative, the same story within the story, the same layer within the layer. The repetitious nature of the stories is incredible. Not only do the narratives continue throughout the timelines, but they are carried symbolically from the simple to the complex. Two such examples are Marriage & The Holy Temple.
I’ve already talked about marriage. Human beings marry one another. That’s the lowly narrative. The meta-narrative, or, the heavenly narrative is the Marriage of Jesus, the Bridegroom and the Church his Bride.
The Holy Temple of the Jews is another example of a metaphor with many layers of meaning in the Bible. The Jews worshipped at a building called the Holy Temple. Priests kept the Temple holy by prayers and sacrifice. The priests went to the Temple for the salvation of sins by offering sacrifices of ‘pure’ animals’ blood. The Bible also refers to Heaven as the actual Holy Temple where God lives. This is where Jesus, the final Priest, brought the final sacrifice, his own blood, to God. Jesus’ Blood represents more love and goodness and sacrifice than any animal’s blood or human repentance represented therein could. And it is in the Heavenly Temple that God accepts Jesus’ final offer as the last one for all mankind. This is where God grants Jesus all the authority to judge mankind as HE sees fit. Whatever Jesus decides is what God will do because God so loves and honors Jesus for what he did out of love for us. If Jesus says we are righteous and can stay in heaven, God will wipe our sin-bill clean and will remember it no more. If not, off to the fiery pit we go. And Jesus is so kind that the only thing he now requires of us is that we BELIEVE that he can and will do this for us. Amazing, right? But I digress. That is the Heavenly narrative. Then, there is the lowest level of the temple metaphor: our bodies. A person’s body is symbolically a temple in the Bible. The Heavenly Temple houses God. The Earthly Temple housed the Spirit of God. Our bodily temple must be kept holy as well so that the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) can reside there. This is why we must not be sexually immoral. Our body must house the Spirit of God within.
16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”~ 1 Cor
Narrative, Meta-narrative. Human marriage, Heavenly Marriage. Heavenly Temple, Jewish Temple/Human Body as Temple. Human soul/ Spirit of God. Human priest/Jesus as final priest. Sacrificed animals for man’s sins/Jesus as final sacrifice for man’s sins. Narrative, Meta-narrative. Now you understand why sexual sin and marriage matter to God. They symbolize so much more than themselves.
When all Christians come together, we are no longer one body but the Collective Body, or, the Body of Christ, or, the Church. The Bible compares us to a Bride who is eagerly awaiting our Groom so that we can be married. And that is exactly how it feels! We can’t wait until he comes. God uses human marriage to symbolize this heavenly event! In the exact way we, the Body of Christ, or the Bride, wait for Jesus, the Bridegroom, to return to unite with us in the final days, people are to unite with each other in this same symbolic union between the bride and groom: marriage! God fully intends that this marriage remains permanent, just as his promise that Christ’s final ‘marriage’ with his Bride, the church, is permanent! What if God reneged on that promise?! What if ‘divorce’ were allowed in that situation? Where would mankind be then? And, should the Church, or the Bride, engage in sexuality with someone else before we marry Jesus Christ? Who would that be except satan?
No. The Bride must remain a virgin and be pure until the marriage be with her intended husband and he, too, must also be pure and kingly, like Jesus. The Marriage must be pure and beautiful. It is a permanent giving over of self to become One- forever and ever. An eternal sacrifice of self into Oneness. That is what happens when you give over your life to Jesus. You, too, become One with Jesus just as Jesus is One with God. That is what will happen when Christ returns for his Church, the Bride. And our marriages on earth are supposed to exemplify that! But how many do?
The Bible tells us very clearly when we are to have sex, with whom and when, if ever, we can divorce and remarry. It’s not hard to understand and yet, I see so many Christians who have already disobeyed and are currently living in a state of adultery (divorce) or who are seeking to do so now. How can this be? Allow me to outline exactly what the Bible has to say about marriage and divorce:
Only in the healthy covenant of marriage are we to engage in sexuality. This means, no pre-marital sex, no gay sex and no adultery. Incest goes without saying. Both the Old and New Testament lay out exactly what marriage means and when, if ever, we are allowed to leave the marriage covenant.
First, Jesus made clear who is to marry- ie, a man and a woman:
“4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”~ Matt 19
Absolutely no one can argue about this reasoning. At least not from the biblical standpoint. They marry BECAUSE God made them male and female. In other words, the fact that they are male and female comes the natural instinct to marry and to ‘become one flesh’. ‘Having sex’ is to ‘become one’ is ‘to become married’. Sex IS marriage. Later in the Bible, Paul compares having sex as marriage, or, ‘becoming one’ when he talks about joining Christ to a prostitute. See here:
16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”b 17But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.c
18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
The point is this- God created man and woman with different sexual parts. It’s the natural union between them to procreate. This union is to be called marriage. This was made clear in Genesis and Jesus is re-affirming it here. Male and female shall come together as One in FLESH and thus, in SPIRIT. There is zero room for misunderstanding here- man can’t marry man and females certainly can’t marry females. Their bodies don’t allow them to become ONE FLESH and thus, their spirits can’t support it. They literally aren’t made for marriage. It must be one man and one woman together in marriage.
Further, God puts a couple together in marriage forever and no man has authority to separate them.
According to Jesus, there is no excuse for divorce except one: when your spouse commits adultery. While the exception is stated for men, we know (Gal 3:28) that all moral laws apply to everyone. While I believe that a woman can leave a man (as in, live elsewhere) that abuses her physically, but she doesn’t get to divorce him or remarry. We only get one chance, folks.
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” ~Matt 19
-Anyone who marries an illegitimately divorced person also commits adultery.
-A man who divorces his wife without cause will bear his wife’s adultery when/if she remarries!
“32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” ~Matt 5
18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”~ Luke 16
“13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.”~ Malachi 2
Therefore, as you can see, only adultery by one spouse is grounds for breaking up the union between a man and a woman. Only if you are legitimately divorced in the eyes of God may you remarry without adding the sin of adultery to the sin of divorce. God especially looks upon men who toss their aging wives aside with a shriveling eye, so be careful men of this world. God protects the weak. We are meant to be together until we die. Most of us get only one chance at marital happiness. And I firmly believe that if most of us lived and died by this command, we would actually find happiness in our marriages. Who, after all, can behave well under a threat? Who can relax with the constant threat of ‘I’m going to leave you!’ over their heads? Who wants to negotiate with someone who says, “I’m taking your children away and you will never see them again for the rest of your life!” People. Bow your heads to God first. It’s great practice for bowing your heads to each other. It really is.
When my husband and I were young and were first married, I was foolish enough to toss the D-word around. I never meant it, of course, but it made me feel more powerful to have it in my back pocket. But I have long since realized how little it benefited either one of us. As I have matured in Christ, I have come to see how very wrong it was to use that word. I haven’t used it for over a decade now. Neither of us do. It’s so much better. We both know we aren’t going anywhere. And we don’t fight like we used to. Things calm down way faster and we are back to love and laughter a whole lot faster. The kids think this is just the way all couples are- they have no idea. And all it took was understanding that God would be truly angry with us if we divorced and that we couldn’t remarry if we did. We were all we had! It gives you great incentive to make up and make it work. Just obeying God has made our marriage so great. Funny, isn’t it? When people obey God, even in what seems to be the small things (like, don’t ever say, “I’m divorcing you” in a fight), they get so much happier. Obedience to God is the key to happiness.
God loves marriage. He created marriage as the symbol between Christ, his Son and the Body of Believers. So, of COURSE he cherishes it and promotes it. Of course he protects it and sanctifies it. We, collectively as Believers, are the Beautiful Bride. We all wait breathlessly for our beautiful, Perfect Groom. When He comes, we will be Ready! Then, God, our Father, will throw a giant FEAST where there will be CELEBRATION, WINE, Dancing, Music, Eating, Laughter and Merriment. All evil will be gone, finally. God said he will wipe all our tears from our cheeks. All of them. We will have many to wipe when we remember all who were lost, but God will be there, wiping them and comforting us. And we will SING! And we will never part from Jesus again. Never! THIS is why God cares about marriage, my friends. It’s about more than two human beings and their selfish desires. It’s about all of existence. It tells the story about how everything will end. It is the ‘Happily After All’ part of the story. We can’t degrade it. We can’t destroy it. So, behave, all of you out there. Especially you, God’s Children! Be the light that others can see. Make your marriages the small metaphor for the greater narrative! BE what is to come. Shine the light of the Heavenly Marriage to all your friends. Begin by bowing your heads to God’s Will and you begin bowing it to each other. Go to church together. Read the Bible together. Pray together. Fear God together. In this way, and only in this way, can you shine the light for others- and, oh, by the way, find incredible joy as well.
** I can just hear some Christians complaining right now, “Sin is sin! They are all the same!” I hate to burst that particular doctrine bubble, but that isn’t true. Some sins really are worse than others according to the Bible. Some are hated more by God than others. One will get you banned from Heaven without even a chance for forgiveness (cursing the Holy Spirit) and others will be weighted more against you than others. Yes, you can anger God more with some kinds of sin than others. Just reading the Old Testament shows us that some actions made God angrier than others. This idea that God considers a small sin like a child taking a cookie from the cookie jar without permission the same as raping and murdering a little child is made up by men. The Bible doesn’t support this anywhere. In fact, here are some verses that clearly show that sexual immorality is one of the very worst sins of mankind:
When Jesus was addressing the Church of Pergamum for their sins, he addressed sexual sin as one of the worst: “14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”~ Rev 2
Again, when Jesus addresses the Church of Thyatira in the Book of Revelations, one of the most serious sins is sexual sin: “20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel,who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”~ Rev 2
Later, as the angels were bringing the three ‘Woes’ to the earth, the people of the earth refuse to stop sinning. The worst people on earth continue in the worst types of sins. One of these worst sins is sexual sin: “20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” ~Rev 9
When describing the worst kinds of sinners in Revelation, Jesus says, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”~ Rev 21
He does this again in Rev. 22: “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, thesexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
These are only the smallest fragments of verses in the Bible that address the seriousness of sexual immorality. It is consistently listed as one of the worst forms of human sin. This shows that some sins are viewed as ‘worse’ than others in God’s eyes.
Further, when Jesus was asked which commandments were ‘most important,’ Jesus answered that loving God was the most important and that loving each other was the second more important. From this, we can derive the opposite meaning: that not doing these things would result in the worst possible sin and the second worst possible sin, thus implying that some sins are worse than others. Matthew 22:36-40
Again, the bible lists six sins that God hates and seven that are merely ‘detestable’ in God’s eyes. (proverbs 6:16-14) That shows an unequal weight given to the various sins. Some sins are just worse in God’s eyes.There are many, many more examples of how some sins are worse than others in the Bible, but as this is merely a side note to this article, I will leave it here.So, yes, we are all sinful and need redemption but some of use commit worse sins than others. And those kinds of sins can anger God more than others and I believe, can cause you to be more distant from God. They can destroy your life more than others- perhaps by allowing satan into your life who can make you feel dirty, ashamed of yourself, unworthy of God, etc. All lies, of course, but quite effective in making you walk away from God, right? In any case, I feel quite certain that the Bible implies that sexual sins outside the bonds of marriage are degrading to your soul and considered very sinful, indeed, to our God in Heaven.