Introduction | A Biblical Theology of Marriage – Part 1

This was orginally written in 2013 and redrafted in 2014 for as a student submission to a midwest regional ETS Meeting

Marriage is the most significant commitment men and women make every day. Overshadowing even the purchase of a house; marriage is meant to last till death intervenes and separates the two. Recently the Supreme Court made decisions concerning the definition of marriage. Is it only between a man and woman or can two of the same sex be joined together? The goal of the civil government should be to promote healthy and stable relationships in which the next generation can grow up, and so the question before the American government is whether or not homosexuality should be encouraged by the provision of government benefits, in things like tax breaks. The state views that question very seriously because of the benefits they provide to secure stable family life, and ultimately benefit all of society. Christians who engage in this practice, unlike the state, have the scriptures which are filled with testimonies concerning the institution of marriage as put forth by God. Yet, with this explicit testimony, many in the church lack a proper understanding of answers to some of the fundamental questions. What is marriage for, and why should I seek after a spouse? Before approaching any of the harder questions such as homosexual marriage, procreation, abortion, and polygamy, a proper biblical view and approach to marriage for the Christian needs to be established.[1]

This essay argues that Christians ought to have a relativized view of marriage in light of the eschatological state that they find themselves in; because of that, reasons for getting married and having children have been fundamentally changed from the Old Testament, and choices regarding these practices need to be refracted through the lens of what is best for the Kingdom of God. Also, the positive laws that set Jews apart from the rest of the world have been adapted by NT writers regarding how Christians ought to interact with a dying world. This means contrary the rest of the world, marriage and procreation are no longer necessary for the Christian to fulfill the command to be fruitful and multiply.

This essay will look chronologically at the special revelation concerning marriage to reestablish a solid foundation of a biblical-theological understanding of marriage for the Christian. This is accomplished by looking at three movements in redemptive history: first, with Adam and Noah; secondly, under the banner of the Abrahamic Covenant; and finally, the directives were given to members of the New Covenant. It should be noted that how this age and the age to come relate to each other is crucial for understanding the issues. For example, how to interpret the necessity of procreation and whether refraining from having children is sinful depends on eschatology. Therefore a robust understanding of marriage combined with an amillennial eschatological position affects the positions one may take on the various issues associated with sex and marriage.

[1] Reflection on some of these issues will be found in the footnotes at relevant points, though it will be through the body of the paper that the foundation will be laid, setting the course for particular conclusions concerning procreation, sex, and homosexuality. At times these conclusions where they appear may overstep the bounds of what has been defended as foundational.

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