Marriage from Genesis to Revelation

A group of homosexual activists recently published what they called the “Queen James Bible”—an edition of Scripture with eight verses edited in order to prevent “homophobic interpretations.” The implication is that if these eight verses are tweaked, the Bible doesn’t have anything to say condemning homosexuality or limiting marriage to the covenant union of one man and one woman for life. The editors of the Queen James Bible were terribly wrong, for from Genesis to Revelation Scripture teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is God’s standard and it condemns supposed alternatives. Of course, every book does not contain an explicit command against homosexuality, and some mentions of marriage and family assume the traditional structure rather than commending it explicitly. But through precepts, examples, analogies, and prohibitions the Bible makes it clear that God loves marriage and hates all affronts to this covenant union.
Genesis records the creation of marriage in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:18-25). Exodus gives the commandment not to commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 clearly condemn homosexuality. (These verses are not merely prohibitions against having homosexual relations with male prostitutes in Molech’s temple, as the Queen James Bible asserts.) Numbers 5:11-31 exalts marital faithfulness by imposing stiff penalties on a woman who breaks her marriage vows. Deuteronomy 5:18 repeats the command against adultery in its recounting of the Ten Commandments.
In Joshua, Caleb’s offer of his daughter’s hand in marriage as a reward for conquering a Canaanite city clearly suggests that marriage is a blessing (Joshua 15:16-17). Judges contains a graphic example of Israel’s violating the Lord’s standards of sexual purity and depicts such behavior as wickedness (Judges 19:22-30). Ruth contains the famous love story between Ruth and Boaz. In 1 & 2 Samuel David’s marriage to Abigail pictures a woman of character and a brave man uniting in a covenant bond (1 Samuel 25:1-43). Solomon’s violation of God’s standards for marriage in 1 & 2 Kings led to division of his kingdom (1 Kings 11:1-13). The first nine chapters of 1 & 2 Chronicles are a genealogy showing that God propagated the line of His chosen people through heterosexual marriage and childbearing. In Ezra Israel wept and repented of breaking God’s command regarding whom to marry (chapters 9-10). Nehemiah confronted, cursed, and beat those who broke God’s commandments on marriage (Nehemiah 13:23-25). In Esther even a pagan king recognizes the blessings of marriage to a godly woman.
Job pictures the protagonist’s wife beside him through trial (Job 2:9-10). Psalm 51 records David’s brokenness after taking sex outside marriage, while Psalm 45 celebrates a royal wedding. Proverbs is filled with warnings against adultery (e.g., Proverbs 7:1-27) and tells a man to delight in the wife of his youth (5:18). Ecclesiastes admonishes a man to enjoy life with his wife (Ecclesiastes 12:9). Song of Solomon is an entire book glorifying heterosexual marriage.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel all use the image of a woman breaking her marriage covenant to depict the wickedness of Israel’s covenant breaking with God (Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:1-37; Lamentations 1:2; Ezekiel 16:1-63). Daniel 5:1-30 pictures God’s judgment on a hedonistic king as he throws a drunken party with his wives and concubines. Hosea illustrates the sinfulness and shame of a wife who breaks the marriage covenant with her husband (chapters 1-3). Joel 2:8 references the sadness of a betrothed virgin whose husband dies before she can experience the joy of marriage consummation. Amos 2:7-8 condemns deviations from marriage in ritual prostitution and incest. Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah announce God’s judgment against the Assyrians and Babylonians—kingdoms whose sin involved sexualized religions that perverted God’s design for marriage. Micah 1:7 likens Israel’s spiritual infidelity to the physical immorality of a prostitute. In Haggai 2:5 God vows to keep promises He made to Israel hundreds of years earlier. Of course, the preservation of His people to see such fulfillment was made possible by their procreation through heterosexual marriage. Zechariah personifies wickedness as a woman, possibly representing Israel’s sin of marrying foreign wives or their idolatrous worship of perverse female deities (Zechariah 5:5-8). Malachi 2:14-15 references God’s plan instituted at creation for a man and woman to enter a covenant relationship producing godly offspring.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all depict Jesus speaking against divorce and exalting the lifelong nature of marriage between a man a woman (Matthew 5:27-32; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18). In John, Jesus performs His first miracle at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). Acts shows Aquila and Priscilla as an example of a husband and wife working together to advance the gospel (Acts 18:24-28). Romans 1:26-27 condemns those who depart from God’s plan for marriage and engage in homosexual acts—a passage edited in the Queen James. First Corinthians condemns sex outside marriage and commands it within marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-40). In 2 Corinthians 12:21 Paul expressed fear that the Corinthians had not repented of sexual sin.
Galatians 5:19-21 includes among the sinful “works of the flesh” sexual immorality, sensuality, and orgies. Perhaps the Bible’s most famous passage praising marriage is Ephesians 5:22-33. In Philippians Paul uses the metaphor of a family to describe the warmth of his relationship with Timothy (Philippians 2:21). Colossians 3:18-19 gives instructions for the relationship between husbands and wives. First Thessalonians commands believers to abstain from sexual immorality and control their bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). As former pagans, the Thessalonians’ temptation toward pagan sexual sins likely was strong. So Paul’s admonition in 2 Thessalonians to live worthy of their Christian calling (2 Thessalonians 1:11) surely included fidelity to the marriage covenant. First Timothy lists being “the husband of one wife” among the qualifications for both elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:2, 12). Another mention of Aquila and Priscilla in 2 Timothy 4:19 suggests they were still faithful to one another years after their initial appearance in Acts. Titus 1:6 repeats that an elder must be “the husband of one wife.” In Philemon commentators think Apphia, mentioned in verse 2, may have been Philemon’s wife.
Hebrews 13:4 commands, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.” James 2:11 repeats God’s command not to commit adultery. First Peter gives further instructions for husbands and wives (1 Peter 3:1-7). Second Peter 2:6 mentions God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (from which we get the word “sodomy”) as an example of what the Lord will do to the wicked. First John uses the roles in a traditional family to reference various groups in the church, a warm greeting that reflects John’s positive opinion of the family (1 John 2:12-14). John again uses family imagery in 2 John—a lady and her children—to address either a church figuratively or an individual (verse 1). Third John employs warm family language again to describe John’s relationship with the believers (verse 4). Jude also mentions Sodom and Gomorrah’s judgment, this time with an explicit mention of their homosexual sins (verse 7). Finally, Revelation compares the joyful consummation of God’s relationship with His people to a wedding (Revelation 19:9; 21:9).
To change the Bible’s teaching on marriage, a person has to do a lot more than edit eight verses.
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