Some define marriage as a lawful contract between a man and woman who wish to unite together toward a common purpose. That purpose might be to raise a family.
Some define marriage as an intimate or close union between a man and a woman.
Others say that Holy Matrimony is when a man and woman take a vow to unite with one another before God, and this makes the marriage or matrimony “Holy”.
It should be interesting to note, then, what the Bible teaches about marriage.
Marriage is a bonding together…a union of a man and a woman…a “yoking together” of two people who will have a common goal. The common goal may be to serve God – without having a family.
Another couple that wishes to be yoked together could be to serve God, but also to raise a family.
Others wish to be married…some in front of a preacher, priest, rabbi or other “clergy” thus, in their minds, making their marriage a “Holy matrimony”.
The first use of the word HOLY is found in Exodus 3:5 – “And God said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Moses was about to meet with God. God told him to take his shoes off because the ground they would share was HOLY. The ground was not holy in and of itself. The ground became HOLY because a HOLY God would be occupying that piece of earth for a few moments.
The word HOLY in Exodus comes from the Hebrew word “Qodesh” – pronounced “ko'-desh”, and it means hallowed or sanctified – “set apart”. It is the same translation as HAGIOS – the Greek word for HOLY.
The words SEPARATED” – Sanctified – Holy are interrelated. God wants us to know that HOLY means to be separated from unclean things or sin. God tells us to “be ye Holy as I am holy”. 1 Peter 1:16.
God is separated…far removed from sin. There is no sin in heaven. There was sin in heaven when Satan and one third of the angels committed the sin of disobedience and rebellion toward God, but from that day forward, there is no sin in heaven.
So, for there to be HOLY matrimony…for God to sanction it, or put it together…the two people joining hands together for the purpose of being “yoked together” for life..they must be HOLY or sanctified or set apart from sin.
How can a couple wishing to be married in “HOLY MATRIMONY” or bondage to each other be set apart from sin? There is only one way, and that is for both parties…the man and the woman…to become righteous.
How can this be accomplished? When Jesus died on the cross, became entombed for two nights and three days, and rose again from the dead, He exchanged His righteousness for our sins. When a person accepts the Gospel of Jesus as truth…that he died, was buried, was resurrected, and that he can forgive sin because of what He did on the cross, then these people become “born again” believers in Christ…and become sanctified…HOLY…set apart.
2 Corinthians 6:17 AMP gives us a clear understanding of what HOLY or SEPARATED means: “So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor.”
Can God honor or UNITE one or two people in HOLY matrimony if one or both are not HOLY…not born-again?
I believe the answer is no, and here is why: The preceding Bible verses in 1 Corinthians 6:17 are directives given by the apostle Paul to the Church at Corinth. They enquired of him, in letters, about marriage.
Here is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:13-16: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”
Paul is admonishing couples not to be “yoked together” – married with those who do not believe in the Gospel of Christ.
If you choose to marry, and one of you is NOT a believer…it is not a HOLY MARRIGE sanctioned by God.
The next verse asks the question, “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?”
Paul is telling us that a believer (righteous, holy one, sanctified…set apart from sin) has nothing in common with wickedness (sinners, unsaved, unrighteous – unbelievers).
He asks, “What harmony would the Holy Christ have with the devil?” There is no connection between Christ and the devil, and there should be none with those who wish to unite in marriage…if they want God to sanction it as HOLY MATRIMONY.
Paul asks, “What can an unbeliever and a believer agree upon in their marriage because there can be no areas of agreement between the HOLY temple of God (which is the body of the believer having received the Holy Spirit), and the temple of idols…the body of an unbeliever?
Paul elaborates, so that there will be no misunderstanding: “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
Therefore, the question becomes, Can God honor a marriage between one or two unbelievers?
The clear answer is no. God cannot sanction or honor any marriage between two non-believers or one believer and one non-believer. If they get married…in front of a “clergy” or not, it is not a marriage that God has put together…it is NOT a HOLY MATRIMONY.
There is a Bible verse – found in Mark 10:9, that states, “What God has joined together, let man not separate.” This verse is absolute and true.
What God hath joined together in HOLY MATRIMONY, let no man pull them apart (cause a divorce).
Can God join together two unbelievers? No.
Can God join together one believer and one unbeliever? No…because, “What fellowship would Christ have with the devil?” God cannot violate His own words and commandments.
Jesus said, in Matthew 10:6 –“But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. 7 -For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh. ” So they are no longer two, but one.”
We need to know what Jesus is talking about when He says, “In the beginning of creation, God made mankind and He made one male and one female. Genesis 1:27.
God instructed this man and woman - named Adam and Eve – to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Nothing has changed as far as what a man and woman are to do…then or now.
We discover, in the second Book of Genesis, the details of how and why God created Adam and Eve.
Genesis 2:21-“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22-And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 –And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
In the very next verse, God must have made the statement, “24-Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” – for future generations because Adam and Eve had no mother or father.
Whenever we read the word “THEREFORE” we need to ask, “What is the THERE FOR? Therefore is the same as a legal term, “WHEREAS”, and it follows a statement. The preceding statement is followed by THEREFORE or WHEREAS.
Adam was created. He was "one flesh". God them took part of him to make Eve.
When Eve was presented to Adam, Adam said, “This woman was created from my one flesh. After God had united them in “marriage”, they were to be treated as one flesh, and having one purpose. Their purpose was to tend the Garden of Eden, and to live eternally.
So, the very first “MARRIAGE” was HOLY, and sanctioned by God Himself.
The “Wedding Ring” is a symbol. In the beginning, a perfect circle (“ring”) was God. He had no beginning and no end…just like that circle or ring.
Adam and Eve was perfect…HOLY…without sin. Each of them was representative of a ring or circle. They had a beginning because God made them, but their circle would not be broken.
They were eternal souls with an eternal life granted. Their “circles of life” were joined with God’s circle. God’s life was shared with their lives and theirs with His….a perfect circle.
Then, Eve sinned. Then Adam sinned. God ejected them from the Garden of Eden, and He punished them (as promised) by allowing both to die a physical death. Sin had entered into the world at that moment.
From then to now, God has a field “white unto harvest” of souls who need a Savior. It is still God’s desire to seek out HOLY people to help Him harvest that new garden…the “field that is white unto harvest.”
God wants those who have accepted the blood sacrifice made by His Son, Jesus, on the cross to work that field with Him as co-laborers.
When the apostles approached Jesus, thinking He was hungry, they asked what they could bring Him to eat. Jesus replied, in John 4:34 –“My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35-Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36-And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”
The "Will of the Father" is found in John 6:40 -AMP-Jesus speaking, "For this is My Father's will and His purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day."
Saving souls - harvesting them from the new garden - the "FIELD that is white unto harvest" is God's will. He sent Jesus to the cross so these souls could be rescued from their sinful condition, and WE are co-laborers with God/Christ to help work the FIELDS. Everything about God is ETERNAL with heaven in mind.
Jesus came to the earth to become a one-time sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He could not possibly harvest those fields alone, so He seeks out those who will help Him reap.
Those who help Him reap will receive wages (crowns as rewards in heaven) and they are to gather fruit unto life eternal (gather souls bound for heaven), and both Jesus and we who are saved who are co-laborers with Him get to rejoice together on that day when we all appear before Him.
2 Corinthians 6:1 emphasizes this co-laborer effort: “LABORING TOGETHER [as God's fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them--do not receive it to no purpose].”
“Do not receive the blessing of salvation and keep it hidden. Use it to become a co-laborer with Christ and share the Gospel of Christ to influence souls and turn them to Christ also.”
That said, let us return to the RINGS, and the MARRIAGES of today to determine if they are HOLY or UNHOLY.
Now, with that background in place, let me draw out different scenarios as to what a HOLY MATRIMONY or MARRIAGE is…based on God’s Word.
If the single man or woman is a believer. He or she is “married” to Christ.
Jesus is the bridegroom. Those who make up the “body of Christ – the church” are the bride.
Matthew 15:10 –relates a story about ten virgins…pure…undefiled as a bride is supposed to be, came before the intended groom. Some did not pay attention to when the bridegroom would appear, and they went out to buy things…to do other things. “10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”
This verse is used to demonstrate that Jesus is the bridegroom, and we are like the five virgins who went into heaven with Him. All of us who are saved will go to the great wedding in heaven. Others…like the five who were preoccupied with other things, missed the wedding, and were locked out.
So the SINGLE man or woman who serves Christ as co-laborer to reap the harvest with Him is the best scenario, according to the apostle Paul.
The SINGLE Christian who is totally dedicated to plowing and working the field is the best “bride” because that bride can devote him or herself to the one job…working in the Garden.
UNSAVED COUPLES –
These have no fellowship with God, the Father or with Jesus, the son. If they choose to marry or “be yoked” together, it is UNHOLY, and not sanctioned by God. This is a marriage...not made in heaven, but made between man and woman. If it fails..it fails. If it succeeds, it succeeds, but it was not sanctioned as a HOLY MATRIMONY by God….vows made or not. There is no verse covering, "What MAN has put together let no other man tear apart."
ONE SAVED – ONE NOT SAVED COUPLE –
This marriage is not HOLY MATRIMONY. Jesus said, “What fellowship would I have with an unbeliever? Can Jesus have fellowship with the devil?”
The reason that God cannot be the one who “JOINS TOGETHER” this couple is because He would be violating His own Words.
Also, it is important to note that Jesus uses terms like “Yoked together” because it connotes a team of oxen working a field.
If one of this couple is a BELIEVER, that “ox” will tend to pull toward the garden and will try to be that co-laborer with Christ. The other “ox” will be pulling toward the world and all of the attractions it has to offer. The work will suffer greatly, and the stronger of the two oxen will eventually win and pull the weaker “ox’ with it.
COUPLE – BOTH SAVED (Holy) –
This is the marriage that God has joined together, and for the common purpose of helping him…as a couple….to harvest the field.
The CIRCLE here is widened where everything flows from one individual up to God. It flows from that individual to the other individual. The flow comes from God to both individuals, and they are truly seen as “one flesh”
This is the couple that God warns, “Do not let man pull that which I have joined together apart”.
I’d like to make a point here that Paul made. If one chooses to become “yoked together”, their goals will dilute the efforts of harvesting the field that is "white unto harvest".
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:1-“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.2--Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”
Paul was rather direct. “If you want to get married, it will be for the purposes of fornication…whether to have children or not.” To comply with the laws of marriage, it is better to let every man have his own wife and every woman to have her own husband.
Once this Christian couple has children, they will have TWO FIELDS. One will be the one that lies ahead of them – between God and them, which is the “field that is white unto harvest”
The second field that these “oxen” who are yoked together will have, will be left behind them…in their “wake”.
That field will be the care of the children…the cares of this world (bills, homes, cars, friends, parents, etc.) and their attention will, by choice, be unequally split between fields.
There is nothing wrong with that scenario…as long as this Christian couple continuously puts God first in their lives and submits to His Word and His leadership. Souls will still be saved as a result of their joint efforts.
COUPLE – BOTH SAVED – ONE DIES –
In this scenario, The WIDOW is authorized to remarry…BUT, only if he or she chooses out another BELIEVER. They cannot be unequally yoked together…an unbeliever with a believer. To honor this marriage, God cannot violate His words. He told us, "Do NOT marry an unbeliever.”
DIVORCED COUPLE –
If a man and woman chooses to become “yoked together” in marriage, but one or both are unbelievers, this marriage is joined together by MAN, and not by God. How could God unite them?
If this marriage fails, and it would be likely that it would - if they were unbelievers or unequally yoked together, then a Writ of Divorcement is issued.
If this separated couple become two SINGLES, and one wishes to remarry, and that SINGLE is a Christian…they need to find another Christian for this marriage to become sanctioned by God.
Then, the “circle of life” is completed. The flow runs from man to woman and from man to God…from woman to man, and from woman to God…and from God to each…all sanctified…set apart…holy…and working the field.
A DIVORCED COUPLE, however, will have consequences….regardless of whether one was a believer and the other not…or if they chose to get married without consenting God….or both were unbelievers.
Sin is sin, and, although forgiven for the Christian in the marriage, divorce has consequences.
A consequence is something that follows an action, and the outcome can be good or bad.
In a divorce, the outcome will have consequences of a broken home for two parties.
If this couple are Christians, they will still have the FIELD in front of them, but they will have left TWO FIELDS in their wake. One for his family…the other field is her family.
Their responsibilities now include loving each other, committing to each other, loving and commitment to God, and loving and committing to the family in the fields behind them.
Children will be “hurt” by a divorce. Parents might be hurt by the divorce of their child from a spouse. Friends will be hurt, and will choose sides.
This can be mitigated somewhat if the remarried couple demonstrates love and commitment to God, to each other, and to their respective families left in the wake of the divorce.
Over time, their children, parents and friends will physically see that their parent loves their new spouse, and both spouses love the family of the other, and both are serving God.
“Time heals all wounds”, so it is better not to adopt an attitude of isolation and insulation from the new spouse’s family It is also wise not to interfere between the guidance your new spouse gives his or her children.
If a couple were married - and were both unsaved before marriage, or one was a believer and the other was an unbeliever, but BOTH come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior AFTER being lawfully married by a Justice of the Peace or even by a "clergy", they should consider renewing their marriage vows before God.
God can certainly sanction that marriage as HOLY at the point where both the man and woman are Holy...set part...sanctified...serving the Lord.
The BEST WAY for TWO SINGLES to become ONE FLESH, and have a HOLY MATRIMONY is to first seek to become born-again. If one SINGLE is born-again, and the other is NOT...don't think you will work things out later! It is violating God's words of wisdom..."Don't do it." If the other SINGLE also gets saved, and you have both sought out God for His direction and blessing, then you will likely have a successful marriage.
You will also need to continue in His Word. 'Husbands...love your wives". It is a "yoked" team. Both of you must pull in the direction of heaven first. Seek to work together to become effective witnesses so the FIELD of God can be harvested. If you decide to have children, carefully consider that you will be diluting your efforts, but it's okay.
Have children...they are an "heritage of the Lord". Train them to follow in your footsteps...love, honor...commit to one another and commit to love, honor and obey God. let them see this love, honor and commitment between you both and God. The CIRCLE is complete this way.
Train them to seek Christ early. Work the fields all of your life, and God will reward you with great blessings.
Short of that, look for a very bumpy road. Your marriage, if not sanctioned by God, is destined for divorce.
I hope this has shed some light on how you view MARRIAGE and HOLY MATRIMONY.
John Tyler, Author
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