More Biblical Data on Marriage

August 17, 2012

As we map out a plan for studying marriage in the PCUSA, the basis for a curriculum must emerge from the Scriptures. We continue our collection of data from both Old and New Testament regarding the theological foundations for marriage. You will notice that I have not even touched upon practical theology (namely, how we are called to live within the parameters of marriage). We’re still finding the connections between God’s actions and statements and the relationship he instituted. If we do our work carefully at this stage, our praxis will be faithful and true to God’s intent.

Today’s additions to the master grid are the proscriptions and negative examples that steer us away from corruption of God’s original intent. I offer this framework with the invitation to add further examples space does not permit me to include. [Imagine that we are working in a whiteboard brainstorming session.] This is most definitely a work in progress!


The Description or Command


Negative Examples

Origin and meaning of marriage

Genesis 1—2

God created male and female; God created the female to correspond to the male; God charged them both to multiply and to steward the world. “The two became one flesh.”

Mark 10:6—9

 “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

1 Corinthians 6:9 “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”

1 Cor 6:15—20

“Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.”  . . . Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself.   . . . your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you . . . you are not your own, For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Corruption of God’s original intent

Genesis 3:7—19

As a result of the Fall, the dynamics of guilt, blame, domination, and skewed dependencies enter marriage.

Leviticus 18:6—23 Sexual intimacy between relatives (incest), the same sex (homosex), and animals (bestiality) is out of bounds

Romans 1:18—30 Failure to give God glory and gratitude results in degradation, illustrated in this passage by homosexual behavior.

Fidelity and Faithfulness within Marriage

Hebrews 13:4

[Mark 10:6—9]

“Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”

Exodus 20:14  “You shall not commit adultery.”

Matthew 19:3—9 “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause . . . “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

2 Samuel 11     David & Bathsheba

The case study on adultery (not to mention murder and lying, sloth and abuse of power)


Marriage Illustrates Covenant between God and His People

Hosea 2, Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 31:31-33

On that day, says the LORD, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal.” [Hos. 2:16]

Genesis 16:1—17:22 Abraham and Sarah, and the misstep with Hagar

Proverbs 2:16—19 “You will be saved from the loose woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the partner of her youth and forgets her sacred covenant; . . .”


Marriage Illustrates Relationship between Christ and His Church

Ephesians 5:21-33

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17

The church as the bride of Christ

 Colossians 3:5

“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).”

Revelation 18:18

The Fall of Babylon, the “whore” representing those who spurned God and disobeyed his law.




6 Responses to “More Biblical Data on Marriage”

  1. Jodie Says:


    I am not sure this is exegesis (pulling out of the word what it is saying to us) rather than eisegesis (pouring my meaning into the word). Specially when it comes to the Genesis study. The whole concept of coming to Scripture with a specific “how to” or “what does it say about” question in mind, and an a-priori bias as to what the answer should be, means, by definition, that you are projecting on to Scripture your expectations and pouring your meaning in the word.

    But it’s hard to do true exegesis in the first place, because all of human communication is an exercise of iterative hypothesis testing and pattern matching. It is how the human brain processes stimuli. Doing it this way just seals the deal. IMHO

    For example, Paul also says in 1 Corinthians that “flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God” so I am not sure what you mean by putting the passage you did in the “Proscriptions” column. Proscription for what?

  2. Viola Larson Says:

    Thank you so much for this study. It is laid out in an exceedingly clear manner. I am hoping that many pastors and elders will use it.

    “Iterative hypothesis testing and pattern matching” !!!
    I’m so glad Scripture is clear, in most cases, wouldn’t it be sad if everyone who came to the text had to think along that line.

  3. Linda Lee, mukilteo Says:

    Thanks Rev. Mary,
    your blog is so helpful in seeing the overall
    Guidance of scripture as a whole toward the topic of marriage.


  4. Jodie Says:


    I am surprised that you don’t feel it is enough to try to insult me on your own blog that you should come over here and try again.

    I speak of a very well documented and demonstrated phenomenon of how the human brain works. You should read up on it. You gave a nice little illustration the other day when you read over and over again the phrase “growing lack of intolerance” thinking it said “growing lack of tolerance”.

    There are others, ranging from making common typos, to causing airplane crashes, and even inadvertent precipitation of war.

    We read what we expect to read. We see what we expect to see. We hear what we expect to hear. The way Isaiah put it, and Jesus quoted him, we see but do not see, we hear but do not hear. And apparently teachers of religion are the most susceptible.

    As Mary said, the mark of a good Bible student is the ability to sit with the Text until you stop hearing the voices in your head and start listening to what it really says.

    But I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that.

  5. Viola Larson Says:

    Jodie, “Iterative hypothesis testing and pattern matching” is interesting and may explain my mistake-perhaps it explains many of my mistakes: ) I would love to have something to blame them own but that isn’t the same as someone doing exegetical work using the word of God as the foundation for their work. I believe you are mistaken in what you are inferring. And I wasn’t trying to insult you; I was suggesting that you were trying to make something difficult that wasn’t difficult.
    I believe a sounder argument would be to supply Mary with a scripture text that states, for example, that a fornicator doesn’t sin against his own body or that in the beginning God made male to correspond to male rather than female. But I am not going to argue the point with you further since I don’t want to be guilty of changing the subject of Mary’s thread. I think she is doing a marvelous job and I am happy to learn.

  6. Mary, it was good to finally meet you…I’m finding your work here very helpful – I’ve always been intrigued by God’s choice of the language and metaphors of marriage and sexual expression for the relationship between God and God’s people. I also think that because of God’s choice to do this, that it is what makes sexual confusion such a contentious issue over and against other sins (except, perhaps, for the idolatry of materialism). It is a kind of “uber-rebellion” that – because it physically distorts the spiritual character of our relationship with God – obscures what is actually unbelief in a way and to such a degree that other sins (while also forms of unbelief) don’t. Thank you for helping us wrestle with this –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s