Watch the complete sermon here: https://www.bridges.church/messages/the-realities-of-marriage-divorce-mark-10-1-12/
Well, friends, I spent some time in my last sermon just this past Sunday. I hope you had a chance to catch it. We talked about the realities of marriage and of divorce in our world, and what does Jesus have to say about these things? If you want to refer to the text, it’s in the Gospel of Mark, chapter ten, verses one through through twelve. And I got a question through email that someone sent in after my message asking about marriage specifically, and this is, I’m going to paraphrase it for you, says, I believe that God gives very precise rules for a successful marriage.
My question is, does God honor a marriage that is done only under state law, without any reference to God and to God’s rules as described in the Bible, or even seek to apply any of God’s rules? Does God view this marriage the same as when a couple decide that they, quote, truly love each other and they want to live together, but without God’s approval or blessing? Great question. There’s a number of things here that we could sort of pull out. So I pulled out three different sort of facets of these questions that I just want to kind of walk through.
The first thing I want to affirm this question of, does God give precise rules for a successful marriage? Amen. Yes, absolutely. We see in scripture specifically, I would refer someone to, say, Ephesians five, verses 21 to 33. There are very clear principles and precepts that God points to that mirror what his intention for marriage was when he founded it all the way back, creation in the Garden of Eden that we can read about in Genesis one and two.
So we see these things. There are very, very clear principles for what God’s ideal and intention for marriage is. And I would say also a Christian marriage. A marriage between two believers, should absolutely look different than a marriage between, say, two unbelievers, people who do not profess faith in Jesus. Romans Twelve two says that we’re not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, that when a person is regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit and they become a follower of Jesus and they become a new creature, they’re remade from the inside out.
That should be reflected in a marriage. And the marriage between two believers should be this mysterious union and covenant, not only between these two individuals and the two becoming one flesh in God’s eyes, but Ephesians five points to how that is ultimately a picture of God’s pursuing love for us, and how God pursues love in a marriage with us, he being the groom and his people, the church being the bride and it’s this beautiful picture of what can be reflected in a quote, unquote, Christian marriage. So, absolutely, there are clear principles and precepts for a successful and a healthy and a God honoring marriage in Scripture.
I want to affirm that a second sort of piece that was included in these questions is, does God honor a marriage that is only done under state law without any reference to God and to God’s rules? Well, we have to define some terms here.
What do you mean by what does God honor? Say, a secular marriage? Really what the question is, is what does the Bible say about two unbelievers getting married? Does God look at that in the same way they only get married under state ordinance or state law? Does God approve of a marriage like that, I’m assuming is what this writer of this email I was sent in this question is probably leaning towards.
And we can say a few things about this one. God does not require unbelievers to not get married. He approves of all people having the opportunity to get married. This is something that was founded at creation. And God doesn’t distinguish between believer and unbeliever in terms of this common grace that he provides for the freedom to be able to get married.
He who finds a wife, finds a good thing, is what the Scriptures tell us. And so what God does require is that these two people trust him and follow him and thank him for the marriage. And if they don’t do that, then there are very, very serious consequences to that. At the same time, though, God did ordain secular institutions like government. We see in Romans 13 how God can even use the state or the government, even when it is corrupt and evil.
Sometimes God can even use those institutions that he has empowered and set apart and ordained. God can even use those institutions very often to accomplish many of God’s good purposes in the world. In the same way God can even work through a marriage between two unbelievers. Does God honor it? Does God approve of it?
Well, what God wants is for all people to follow him and to submit themselves to him. But even in an imperfect marriage, God is still able to accomplish many of his good purposes, because this is something that God ordained, again, all the way back from creation, and it’s part of his common grace. We would also say that the ultimate purpose of marriage is seen most clearly in two believers who are submitting to the Lordship of Jesus, who are seeking to be conformed into the likeness of Jesus, and to apply the principles for a healthy marriage that we see in places like Ephesians five, but what we do see is that there’s still the ability to have some semblance of this covenant that God makes with his people.
Even in a marriage between two unbelievers, God is still able to mysteriously work. Now, does he want them to follow him?
Absolutely. Is that God’s ideal that two unbelievers get married? No. But we also know that God can still work, even in this midst, and that the story has not totally been written. His desire is that all people would follow him.
Ultimately, here’s the question. Does God view Christian marriages the same as the view of, say, nonchristian marriages? And here’s what we can say, is that the Bible actually doesn’t really talk about marriage between two unbelievers. What the Bible talks about is God’s ideal and intention for marriage. We looked at this in my sermon this past Sunday, and we also know that the Scripture talks about, specifically in two Corinthians chapter six, about two believers being married, as opposed to a believer marrying an unbeliever being unequally yoked, is the language that the Scripture uses.
That’s what Scripture talks about. It doesn’t really talk about two unbelievers getting married. We know that that will indeed happen. And the Bible also doesn’t specifically give guidelines for what a Christian marriage ceremony should look like versus a marriage ceremony between two non Christians. Should there be prayers?
Should God’s name be mentioned? If so, how often? There’s not really those prescriptions. I think it’s reasonable, though, for us to expect that when two believers get married, the main difference between that and a marriage between two unbelievers is Jesus. Jesus is probably going to be the centerpiece of that marriage ceremony between two believers who are making a covenant between one another and are also professing their desire to love God and to honor him and to reflect that covenant that God makes with us.
That’s the main difference that we should expect between a Christian marriage or a wedding ceremony and a wedding ceremony between two unbelievers. Ultimately, marriage is a common grace. Again, that God established that creation and his desire is for all of us to know him and to seek to live out his purposes and his precepts. That is always the best way. God’s way is always the best way.
We build our lives on the firm foundation of Jesus and of his word and trusting the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. And when those individuals in that marriage choose to not do that, or they just reject that outright, then that’s going to definitely make it more difficult for them as problems arise during their marriage. And yet God can still somehow work. And we can pray for those individuals that they would come to faith and that they would come to increasingly understand, ultimately not a deeper human love, but the love that God has for all people.
Well, thanks so much for joining us.
Great questions. I hope that this has been helpful to you. Bye.