It is interesting to watch the national discussion to define marriage. What is marriage? What does it mean in the greater context of society? Who defines it? Is it really just Going Steady for grown ups? If there is more to it than that, where does it come from? The answers to these questions depend heavily on your worldview. Marriage might mean one husband with up to four wives, one wife with several husbands, one husband with one wife, or two husbands or two wives, or something else.
In recent years the Christian worldview has come into question here in the US. This comes largely out of the push to legalize same sex marriage. I enjoy these challenges to my own beliefs. They force me to re-evaluate my own worldview. Keeping my own worldview logically consistent, at least in my own head, is important. At least to me.
What follows is an articulation of what I believe. I am putting it out there because it might be interesting or useful to someone else. I have no desire to force my view on anyone. That you do not agree with me presents no significant issue for me. I am wrong a lot. I am OK with that.
I subscribe to the Christian worldview. Therefore, my concept of marriage is derived from my understanding of Christian precepts. Your mileage will vary depending on your feelings about Christianity. That too, is fine.
The Christian concept of marriage is an integral part of God having created man in His image and goes all the way back to Genesis. “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image…” (Gen 1:26) We start from the trinity. Inherent in the image of God is relationship because God is three persons. Without relationship, you simply do not have an image of God. Any singular identity cannot be the image of God because God has for eternity been in relationship; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The image of God requires relationship.
If God created man in His image, which is the image of God? Man or Woman? This seems like an issue. It was a curious question for me until I was listening to Stuart MacAllister on an RZIM podcast. It was actually a something of a quip, an aside that he made. MacAllister said, “What if man and woman are both God’s image, two sides of the same coin.” This was a huge ah hah! moment for me. Not all at once. I spent a couple of weeks working through what that meant. I am probably still working on it. But suddenly, marriage and a lot of the things they say about marriage began to make sense.
Man is only half of the image of God, woman is required to complete that image. The image of God in the Christian worldview is one man and one woman in a committed relationship for life, as God is in relationship for eternity. According to this view, two men in relationship is not the image of God in that it is missing the components that only a woman can bring to the relationship. Likewise, two women.
A man and a woman entering into a relationship, forsaking all others, building trust that comes from year after year of knowing that person is still committed only to you, remaining in relationship for their entire lives, until death does part them is a reasonable, human illustration, of the image of God. An imperfect image, to be sure.
We aren’t living up to this worldview very well, given the prominence of divorce in America. Even those who claim to hold a Christian worldview some times treat marriage a lot like Going Steady in high school. However, that does not diminish the standard set forth. The best example of the trinity in human experience is a man and a woman in a committed relationship, forsaking all others and becoming, ‘one flesh’.
I can see pitch forks, torches and rocks out there. This describes what I believe to be a Biblical view of marriage. As a Christian, I hold this view. However, I also understand that anyone who does not share my worldview is very likely to have a different view of marriage. It might be only slightly different or it might be radically different. There are some even within the Christian worldview who will not agree with what I have described here. The challenge in any society is working out how to integrate disparate worldviews into a peaceful coexistence. American society is in the throes of working out exactly what ‘marriage’ means.