Biblical View of Marriage

by hamiltonmj1983

So you really want a "biblical view" of marriage?

Alright, I understand that this is a little extreme, and it takes a great deal of proof-texting to come up with a chart like this. It also takes as much proof texting to come up with a “biblical” view of marriage as espoused by our lovely GOP candidates (who shouldn’t even be talking about anything “biblical” in the first place), as well as such inspiring preachers as Mark Driscoll (note the sarcasm).

The texts certainly do say many things about marriage. Some of these things are in disagreement with the popular, modern view on marriage by evangelicals, while some of them line up with it. Some people argue that the bible never contradicts itself, and that if you find something that contradicts something else in scripture, then you have interpreted it wrong. I have to say – I completely disagree with this statement.

The bible was written by people in specific socio-historical contexts. Yes, I firmly believe that these people were inspired by God. No, I do not think that God dictated to them exactly what they were to say. What they wrote was directly relational to their culture they lived in. Some things lined up exactly; other things were specifically counter-cultural. It was all, however, according to their culture and not ours.

I think that much of what the bible writers say about marriage is very good, so don’t think that I am just throwing it all out. Yesterday, as I was reading my Twitter feed, a publisher (I think it was Zondervan?) asked,” what does it mean to read the bible through the ‘Jesus Lens?'” My take on that is that Jesus Christ is the fullest revelation of God the Father (Yahweh) that we have. Even with the understanding that the Gospels were written decades after the death of Jesus, it is the most accurate portrayal of the character of God in the entire Old Testament (because Jesus WAS God).

I would say, therefore, with that understanding, that we line up the rest of the text against the text of Jesus. If Jesus is the truest revelation of God, we can see where other biblical writers might have been slightly off the mark. I am not attempting to challenge the authority of the bible. I think that Paul was an amazing, God-inspired teacher who experienced God in unique ways that have probably not happened since. Paul, however, was not Christ, and he does not have the authority of Christ (in a sense, we all have the authority of Christ, as shown in the Great Commission, but that does not mean that our words hold the same weight as the words of Christ).

What I am getting at, through this long rambled bunch of musings, is that Paul spoke very wise words to very specific churches in very specific contexts. If we find ourselves in those exact same contexts, then it might be fair to apply what Paul says directly into our context. We, however, do not live in those contexts and therefore there needs to be an interpretation process in order to apply what Paul says to our church. It is possible that, after the interpretation process, we might find some of what Paul says to be completely not applicable to our setting.

The way the church understands gender roles is likely to be different on each continent, and that is ok! We have to understand the scripture in its own original socio-historical context, then apply it to our socio-historical context. If Paul happens to be dealing with an issue where, for example, a number of temple prostitutes are converting to Christianity but trying to bring their old way of worshiping (they were temple prostitutes, I’ll let you figure out what their way of worship was) into the early christian church. It would make sense that Paul would tell them to sit and not speak (see how that would make sense compared to their previous way of worship?). Now, unless you have former temple prostitutes in your church trying to engage in…inappropriate…acts of worship during the service, then that command really does not apply to you! Paul’s letters were not meant to be theological documents written for the entire faith; they were specific documents written to a specific audience written in a specific context!

Enough rambling; what are your thoughts on this?


Edit: I wanted to link to a post by Rachel Held Evans that discusses “biblicism” and the way the bible is read. I think it has a lot to do with the message that I am trying to get across. Thanks!