Marriage – 4

Question: “What does it mean to be one flesh in a marriage?”

Answer: The term “one flesh” comes from the Genesis account of the creation of Eve. Genesis 2:21-24 describes the process by which God created Eve from a rib taken from Adam’s side as he slept. Adam recognized that Eve was part of him—they were in fact “one flesh.” The term “one flesh” means that just as our bodies are one whole entity and cannot be divided into pieces and still be a whole, so God intended it to be with the marriage relationship. There are no longer two entities (two individuals), but now there is one entity (a married couple). There are a number of aspects to this new union.

As far as emotional attachments are concerned, the new unit takes precedence over all previous and future relationships (Genesis 2:24). Some marriage partners continue to place greater weight upon ties with parents than with the new partner. This is a recipe for disaster in the marriage and is a perversion of God’s original intention of “leaving and cleaving.” A similar problem can develop when a spouse begins to draw closer to a child to meet emotional needs rather than to his or her partner.

Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, financially, and in every other way, the couple is to become one. Even as one part of the body cares for the other body parts (the stomach digests food for the body, the brain directs the body for the good of the whole, the hands work for the sake of the body, etc.), so each partner in the marriage is to care for the other. Each partner is no longer to see money earned as “my” money; but rather as “our” money. Ephesians 5:22-33 and Proverbs 31:10-31 give the application of this “oneness” to the role of the husband and to the wife, respectively.

Physically, they become one flesh, and the result of that one flesh is found in the children that their union produces; these children now possess a special genetic makeup, specific to their union. Even in the sexual aspect of their relationship, a husband and wife are not to consider their bodies as their own but as belonging to their partner (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Nor are they to focus on their own pleasure but rather the giving of pleasure to their spouse.

This oneness and desire to benefit each other is not automatic, especially after mankind’s fall into sin. The man, in Genesis 2:24 (KJV), is told to “cleave” to his wife. This word has two ideas behind it. One is to be “glued” to his wife, a picture of how tight the marriage bond is to be. The other aspect is to “pursue hard after” the wife. This “pursuing hard after” is to go beyond the courtship leading to marriage, and is to continue throughout the marriage. The fleshly tendency is to “do what feels good to me” rather than to consider what will benefit the spouse. And this self-centeredness is the rut that marriages commonly fall into once the “honeymoon is over.” Instead of each spouse dwelling upon how his or her own needs are not being met, he or she is to remain focused on meeting the needs of the spouse.

As nice as it may be for two people to live together meeting each other’s needs, God has a higher calling for the marriage. Even as they were to be serving Christ with their lives before marriage (Romans 12:1-2), now they are to serve Christ together as a unit and raise their children to serve God (1 Corinthians 7:29-34; Malachi 2:15; Ephesians 6:4). Priscilla and Aquila, in Acts 18, would be good examples of this. As a couple pursues serving Christ together, the joy which the Spirit gives will fill their marriage (Galatians 5:22-23). In the Garden of Eden, there were three present (Adam, Eve, and God), and there was joy. So, if God is central in a marriage today, there also will be joy. Without God, a true and full oneness is not possible.

Moicheuó – to commit adultery

Sexual intercourse outside the marriage.

Matthew 5:32

If one divorces the other because of adultery, the one having committed adultery, if they marry again, they will still be in adulterous condition

Luke 16:18

Everyone putting away the wife of him and marrying another commits adultery, and the one put away by her husband who marries again also commits adultery

John 8:4

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Romans 7:1-3

1Or do you not know, brothersa—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.b 3Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

So, you can see from the above that Jesus takes marriage and adultery very seriously, such that when one first has sexual intercourse (the one flesh), one is ‘bound’ to that person in eternal marriage, no ifs or buts, and if one divorces, and has sex with someone else, both parties have committed adultery.  I wonder how many Christians realise this? (See my blog ‘Marriage – 3)

Epithumeó – desire, lust after, I long for, covet, lust after, set the heart upon.

Notice the word ‘lust’ means to covet, to desire something.

“Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust”: Misinterpreted Bible Passages #1

Matthew 5:27–28:

“You heard it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman/wife in order to covet her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Standard Interpretation(s)

The ordinary interpretation of this passage is that lust is equivalent to adultery; that is, if a man sexually desires a woman, he has already committed adultery with her in God’s eyes. This interpretation is reflected in the following translations:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NIV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NASB)

“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NLT)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NRSV)

Many churches (especially within Evangelical circles), emphasize this verse to men and (especially) adolescent boys, warning that if they so much as think of a woman in a sexual manner, they’ve already sinned, that they’ve already effectively done the deed with her. Such an interpretation often works hand-in-glove with the common idea that Jesus “intensified” the Law in the Sermon on the Mount, setting a higher standard in order to show that no person could actually live up to God’s standards, showing that a person could only be saved by recognizing the impossibility of righteousness and then receiving forgiveness (a complete misinterpretation of the Sermon on the Mount I will address at another time). So the common teaching is: lust (that is, sexual lust) is absolutely evil—equivalent, even, to the physical act of sexual sin.

Another key aspect of nearly all the common misinterpretations of this verse is a specific (mistaken) definition of the word “lust.” Specifically, many readers understand “lust” as specifically denoting misplaced or overly robust libido. For example, as one recent conversation partner explained to me, “I take lust to mean wanting something more than you should in an unhealthy way.”

Despite its popularity, this interpretation is imprecise, even flat wrong, and leads to surprisingly harmful consequences, making this verse a great candidate to start this series.

Lust or Covet?

The first thing to understand in this passage (and in the Sermon on the Mount in general) is that Jesus is in no way intensifying the Law here, nor is he really saying anything new. What’s that, you say? The Law doesn’t forbid lusting after a woman, so Jesus has obviously turned things up to eleven by doing so?

Well, as it turns out, the Greek word usually translated “lust” in this passage (ἐπιθυμέω; epithumeô) is precisely the word for “covet” (Hebrew חמד) in the Tenth Command in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), which says:

οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ πλησίον σου. οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ πλησίον σου οὔτε τὸν ἀγρὸν αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὸν παῖδα αὐτοῦ οὔτε τὴν παιδίσκην αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ βοὸς αὐτοῦ οὔτε τοῦ ὑποζυγίου αὐτοῦ οὔτε παντὸς κτήνους αὐτοῦ οὔτε ὅσα τῷ πλησίον σού ἐστιν. (Ex 20:17 LXX)

You will not covet your neighbor’s wife. You will not covet your neighbors house or his field or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or any animal which is your neighbor’s.”

Looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? In fact, it’s basically identical; the word translated “wife” here is the same that is translated “woman” in Matthew (there’s no distinction between the words “wife” and “woman” in Greek; both English words translate the same Greek word γύνη; gynē).

Jesus isn’t saying anything new at all in Matthew 5:27–28; instead, he directly cites one of the Ten Commands to remind his audience that the Law not only prohibits adultery, it prohibits coveting with the same severity. This is not an intensification of the Law; it’s a reminder of what the Law already says. In addition, Jesus gives no indication that he regards the Law as too difficult to keep—he not only assumes that his followers can follow his interpretation of the Torah but commands them to do so.

Now that it’s clear that Jesus isn’t saying something specifically new here but is instead calling attention to the Tenth Command, the next order of business is to understand the tenth command and the concept of “coveting.” The first thing to understand is that when the Hebrew חמד or Greek ἐπιθυμέω are used as verbs in the OT, it denotes desire directed at obtaining the specific object in question and not merely the existence of the desire itself.

Strikingly, the nominal (noun-form) concept of “lust” or “desire” (even the sexual variety) is nowhere forbidden in Scripture, nor is it equated with sin—only the potential to sin: “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then, when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin is completed, it brings forth death” (James 1:14–15). Note that James clearly distinguishes between “lust” (that is, desire) at the stage of temptation and “sin,” which is the actual commission of an act.

In keeping with this distinction, Tenth Command specifically forbids the action of coveting (hence the verbal form), perhaps best understood as forbidding fixing one’s desire upon obtaining something that is not rightfully one’s own. (A fuller way to understand “coveting” is analogous to the modern legal concept of “attempted” lawbreaking, but that’s a subject for for another post.)

To understand these distinctions more fully, it is helpful to understand the background for how the term typically translated “lust” (Gk. ἐπιθυμία; epithumia) was understood in the New Testament and the culture of that period.

Drives and Desires

One misconception that should immediately be eliminated is that “lust” (ἐπιθυμία) is a specifically sexual term. In fact, the word simply refers to a strong, passionate desire, used either of sexual desire or of a strong desire for something non-sexual. Stepping back further, in Platonic thought, ἐπιθυμία (epithumia) is the lowest part of the human soul—representing the connection of the soul with the fleshy, bodily part of the person.

Background: The Tripartite Soul

In the world of Greek philosophy, human thought and action were often explained by metaphorically dividing the “soul” (or life-force) into three bust of Platoparts, each of which is personified as a separate agent in itself.

The highest part is the “mind,” “intellect,” or “reason” (νοῦς, nous; sometimes λόγος, logos), which is the part associated with thinking, theorizing, believing, meditating, contemplating, etc. This part is concerned with things like truth and knowledge and the highest aspects of human life. This part is represented in the human body by the head, which is the highest part of the body, stretching towards the heavens. In Plato’s Republic, this part is identified with the philosopher/rulers who are the natural and proper leaders of the ideal city-state, while it is identified with the world creator “demiurge” in the Timaeus.

As mentioned above, the lowest part (ἐπιθυμία, epithumia; note that this is the same root as the word for “lust”) is the irrational seat of appetite, the source of human drives for pleasure, including desires for food, drink, sex, and pleasure. Socrates calls this part of the soul “money loving,” since money is typically required to satisfy all its primary appetites. This seat of the appetites was also referred to as the “flesh” in the ancient world (σάρξ; sarx). Because this part of the soul is non-rational, it is unlimited in terms of what it desires—necessary, frivolous, or even unlawful/illegal/sinful. Take food, for example. When a person is hungry, it makes no difference if the barbecue smell is coming from the neighbor’s house—it still stimulates the desire for that food. The desire for food is necessary inasmuch as the body will die without food, but the appetite does not simply restrict itself to what is necessary.Greek charioteer Parmenides

Instead, a person may desire extremely expensive food (unnecessary) or, in extreme cases, may desire to eat something improper (i.e. a child may consume his feces or an adult may suddenly desire to eat a child). Since it is prone to run amok, the appetite part of the soul must be governed by the higher parts of the soul to keep it in check. This part is represented by the lower parts of the abdomen (including the genitals) on the human body, while it is identified with the merchant/craftsman (money-making) class in the Republic. In Parmenides’ charioteer analogy, this part is likened to a wild stallion, powerful but undisciplined.

The middle part of the soul is the “spirited” or “emotional” part of the soul (θύμος, thumos; a word often denoting “heart” in Greek), the mediator between the higher and lower parts of the soul. This part is the seat of the will and courage and can be shaped through education and training. It is represented by the chest/heart area on the body and the warrior/soldier class in the Republic.

If a person is well-ordered, these parts work together in a manner likened to a harmony of three musical notes, each necessary to the song. In Parmenides’ charioteer analogy, the mind governs the other two as a charioteer, with the “spirited” will as the lead horse and the appetites as the second horse, steered by the union of the higher two natures.

On the other hand, the danger is that the appetites will gain the “spirited” part as an accomplice and overpower the will, leading to reckless action. Plato thus sees it as critical that the mind retains the allegiance of the will, giving it direction and controlling the appetites.

So to summarize: the presence of “lust” or “desire” is an assumed part of each human person—deriving from God-given bodily desires that are amoral in themselves, neither inherently sinful nor entirely depraved. As such the presence of such “lusts” is in no way sinful; it is simply a part of being an embodied person. But directing these desires towards taking, obtaining, or enjoying what is not lawful is forbidden—that action (itself an act of the will) is forbidden by the Tenth Command and is sin.

Back to Matthew 5:27–28

Now that we’ve established a bit of the history of the key term in question, we can return to Jesus’ saying in Matthew with a little better context. By now we should understand that, in contrast to the English term “lust,” which has come to be a pretty much entirely negative term—which is why it’s so amusing to say, “I’ve been lusting for this pastry all morning”—the Greek term (though having a somewhat negative tint) is not always negative in the same way, instead being indicative of strong urges or drives, which the New Testament does not condemn in themselves.

Jesus is even able to use the word of himself:

“And He said to them, ‘I have lusted [ἐπιθυμέω] to eat this Passover with you before I suffer!’” (Luke 22:15)

Similarly, other non-negative uses of the word:

“For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men lusted [ἐπιθυμέω] to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matt 13:17)

“And [the prodigal] lusted [ἐπιθυμέω] to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.” (Luke 15:16)

“… and lusting [ἐπιθυμέω] to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.” (Luke 16:21)

Again, I am not to saying that there was never a negative connotation to ἐπιθυμέω/ἐπιθυμία. But it is critical that we make the distinction between a condemnation of desire and a prohibition against coveting forbidden things, including one’s neighbor’s wife. Now we’re finally ready to look at the verse itself.

The Grammar of Matthew 5:27–28

The other major mistake in the interpretation of this verse (and many translations, as shown above) involves misconstruing the grammar. The Greek does not say, “look at a woman with lust” or “look at a woman lustfully,” as though it were describing the manner of looking. On the contrary, Matthew uses a grammatical construction here that combines the preposition πρὸς (pros, pronounced “pross”) with an articular infinitive in the accusative. Matthew uses this construction four other times, and each time it denotes the purpose of the action:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men in order to be noticed by them.” (Matt 6:1)

“… First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles in order to burn them up ….” (Matt 13:30)

“But they do all their deeds in order to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.” (Matt 23:5)

“For when she poured this perfume on my body, she did it in order to prepare me for burial.” (Matt 26:12)

So it is clear that the grammar is reflecting purpose: “anyone who looks at a woman in order to covet her.” (“Covet” is preferable here in part because “covet” better reflects the intentionality reflected in the passage.) This is a critically important point; Jesus is not suggesting that any sexual thought or inclination towards a woman is sinful. Nor is he suggesting that such thoughts or attractions being triggered by a look are sinful. The look is not the problem (nor is the presence of a beautiful woman, which some of that day tended to blame as the real problem); no, these are assumed. What is remarkable (given the popular misinterpretation) is that Jesus likewise assumes the presence of sexual desire in the man as a given, and that sexual desire isn’t seen as the problem. Instead, Jesus addresses the matter of intent, of volition, the purpose of the look. The issue is not the appetite itself but how a man directs this natural appetite and inclination. (I’m reminded here of the old saying: If you’re a young man on a beach and a beautiful woman in a bikini walks past and you don’t notice, it’s not because you’re spiritual, it’s because you’re dead.)

This fits well within the immediate context; throughout this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is pointing out the root causes of the sins enumerated in the Law. Yes, adultery is a sin, but the sin has entered the heart the moment one determines to seek it out. The moment a man even looks at a woman for that purpose, adultery has already polluted the heart. This is the line between natural sexual attraction and the “coveting” prohibited by the Law: the Law forbids directing one’s desire towards that which is not lawful. Jesus does not condemn the desire but the action taken on the desire.

In modern terms, it’s the difference between seeing a woman and being attracted to her—a natural part of the God-created appetite and a good indicator that one is alive—and actually considering or seeking an illicit activity. In modern terms, Matt 5:27–28 could be paraphrased as follows: “Obviously, having extramarital sex is wrong, but the moment you decide to start down that path, adultery is already in your heart.”

Finally, Jesus does not say that the thought and the action are equivalent, as is often taught. The passage does not say, “Once you’ve thought it, it’s the same as actually having done it.” That very notion is absurd! Rather, Jesus says that adultery has been committed in the heart, that the will has already bent itself towards adultery. Again, the emphasis is on intent—that is, without the decision to move towards adultery, the act would never be committed. Therefore, Jesus says, deal with the primary problem of intention and adultery becomes a non-issue. As will be shown below, the suggestion that the thought and action are equivalent can cause much harm.

Why It Matters

The biggest problem with the way these verses are usually explained is that it misplaces the focus away from the will, from the commitment of the heart, towards a condemnation of the natural desires human beings are created having. Young men in many churches are effectively told that there is something inherently sinful in their sexual impulses. There are several results that typically follow from this:

  1. A great deal of self-defeat and guilt about sexual desire is a problem in much of the church. Young men are often entirely consumed with their efforts “not to lust,” as though focusing even more attention on the matter of sexual desire would actually help things!
  2. In the same vein, I have even had married men talk to me about how they try not to “lust” for their wives! This stems from the misguided idea that if their desire for sex is simply because they’re “horny,” there’s something inherently wrong with that, something to feel guilty about. (In contrast, look at the way Paul approaches marital sex in 1 Cor 7; he seems to present it as the necessary and acceptable cure for “being horny.”) Talk about a way to take some of the joy out of marriage and substitute defeat and guilt!
  3. Many young men simply give up the fight, reasoning that if they’re already guilty of sexual sin because of their thoughts, they might as well go ahead and enjoy the real thing. You’d probably be surprised how often this is the case. (Again, this result is quite related to the poor theology that suggests the Sermon on the Mount presents some impossible to achieve standard. The obvious conclusion is to ask why anyone should try to live up to it, since one’s salvation isn’t determined by doing this stuff anyway, only how one believes.)
  4. Some who understand this passage to be a condemnation of lust actually reason that they can have extramarital (or at least premarital) sex as long as they “don’t lust.” Following is an actual quote from a message board discussion on this subject:

    “The only reason to wait [for marriage for sex] is if you believe you have a soul mate out there. I don’t. I know the bible [sic] fairly well … and have yet to find where the bible [sic] says it is wrong to have sex with more than one person or have sex before marriage. Adultery is having sex with someone elses [sic] partner which is wrong and you can have sex without looking at someone lustfully. I don’t know anywhere in the bible [sic] where it says it is wrong for two people who care about each other to have sex.”

    As amazing as this interpretation is, this is certainly not the first time I have heard or seen that interpretation—that it’s okay to have extramarital sex as long as one doesn’t “lust.” As we’ve seen, this entirely misconstrues what “lust” is (having sex without the desire for it is generally called rape), but it is an excellent representative of how harmful the common teaching on this passage can be. (See this post for a discussion of the fallacy of searching for the soul mate in much of American Christian culture.)


So to sum it up, Matthew 5:27–28 is not a condemnation of lust or sexual desire, nor does it mean that every red-blooded male necessarily sins every time a beautiful woman walks into a room (or onto a movie screen or anywhere else she may appear). On the contrary, “lust” itself is not a sin but leads to sin if it is not properly governed and put under the authority of the Spirit (again, note James 1:14–15).

If this passage is to be correctly taught, the emphasis should not be upon “sexual thoughts” or “lust”; instead, the emphasis should be placed squarely on the will: that is, “What is the proper response to sexual desire?” Sexual desires are not inherently sinful; the exercise of the sexual appetite outside appropriate boundaries is the problem. The point in this passage is that once the will has turned toward illicit behavior, sin has already entered the heart and, once fully conceived, will bring forth death. The emphasis should therefore be upon willfully bending natural desires away from illicit objects (or persons) and toward what is right.

Part of the payoff for properly understanding these two verses is the understanding that the requirement they set forth is neither impossible nor unreasonable. There is no requirement to somehow lose the drives and appetites that we were born with, nor should there be any guilt for having them. On the contrary, it is a matter of the commitment of the will, the orientation of the heart, that Jesus is discussing. It is the covetous look that is forbidden, not lust or desire itself. That is, Jesus forbids fixing one’s desire upon a woman (or man) that is not rightfully one’s own.

Even more importantly: this requirement was not set forth to show how impossible it is to live up to God’s standard. Jesus intended the standards set forth here to be lived.


Marriage – 3

Ideally, a marriage should be a lifetime relationship, through ups and downs, working through problems.  It is also about getting priorities right – a marriage comes before a job.  This may mean living a very simple life, not worrying about what others think.

But, not all marriages are stable, and hence a divorce takes place.  Unfortunately, divorces are on the increase, most often because a couple do not listen to each other and realise it is hard work.  The pace of live is so fast, that we often do not take time to be still and develop our marital relationships.

In the Bible, there are only a few reasons why someone can divorce.

  • adultery – where one or both partners have a sexual relationship outside of the marriage.  Part of the reason for this to be used as a reason for divorce is the high status sex has been given by society and the media.  Sex is special and should only take place within a marriage and therefore having one night stands or even a short relationship based on sex, prior to a marriage, often means that one can easily get bored with having sex with one’s partner.  Sex outside marriage cheapens the intimacy one needs within a marriage between a man and a woman.
  • consummation of a marriage – if there is no sex within the marriage, one does not become one ‘entity’.  That does not mean one can demand sex, but it should be seen as a normal part of the relationship within the marriage.  Hence, the importance of also not having other sexual relationships before or during the marriage.  I would hope if this is a problem that counselling is sought.  Obviously, some people cannot have sex for physical reasons.
  • violence – although there is no direct mention of this being a reason for a divorce, other teachings infer that if the perpetrator does not stop, even after counselling, then for their safety, the ‘victim’ should divorce.  For the Bible says that we are to love one another, and within a marriage, we are to serve each other out of love also.  Unfortunately, domestic abuse is on the increase, partly because of such things as unemployment and/or alcoholism, or a bad upbringing in childhood.

Hence, the importance of marriage preparation and, where necessary, counselling to deal with issues that prevent a successful marriage.  In fact, I think it should be compulsory.  And that is where the Church comes in, as it can teach the wisdom of the Scriptures on the subject.  There are many good resources available these days, so even there is not anyone in a church suitable to lead couples in preparation for their marriage, it does not matter (;

One issue that often starts the problems within the marriage is the cost and extravagance of the wedding.  It should be a simple celebration, thus preventing there being debts to start the marriage.  For, money is often the cause of strained relationships – maybe one should get counselling in managing your resources – there are organisations that specialise in this area (eg;

And, finally, we need to find ways to ‘improve the image’ of marriage in the media and society in general.  What about people coming up with great ‘scripts’ for television and radio and writing letters to the press, with an attitude of love and gentleness? And Governments can help through tax incentives.

Any comments.

Marriage – 2

In today’s society, there many types of relationships.  Marriage between a man and a women tends to last the longest where it is worked on.

With there being many sexual scandals exposed recently that have involved ministers of religion, it shows that in many cases there has been a lack of balanced teaching about relationships, including sex within marriage, at theological colleges and in churches.  Most of the people accused have been single, especially when it involves the Roman Catholic Church.  It is interesting that in the Church of England, the so called ‘Anglo-Catholic’ wing, most ‘priests’ are married and often are more ‘Catholic’ than their counterparts in the Roman Catholic church.  It is also noticeable that there are only rare cases of sexual misdemeanours.  So,, I urge the Roman Catholic church to allow priests to marry, so that their sexual urges can be released within a loving and caring marriage.  Apart from the sexual side of things, I also believe it would encourage more people to become priests if they can marry (the number of priests applying to join the Catholic church is slowly reducing each year).  It is up to the Church to show the way and model relationships to the world.  Sexual abuse continues to rise and is becoming more disgusting in its methods as people, mainly men, get bored with the old ways.  But, teaching on sex needs to be done in the context of sex within marriage, self-identity (including being secure in their identity to say ‘no’) and seeing that relationships involve more than sex (there needs to be encouragement for depth in relationships).  ‘Going out’ should be taught that they need to do enriching activities together with other people so that they have many different things to talk about, apart from, sport, soaps and sex.  Young people need to be challenged about ideas they get from the media.  The media also needs challenging about thinking that they know what is best , when they do not.  They need encouraging to use writers who have a better imagining for exciting scripts that still stay with the boundaries of moral decency, including better use of language.

Marriage provides an ideal model in which to bring a balanced upbringing of children.

Marriage – 1

Marriage is a union of a man and a woman becoming one.

In Ephesians 5, there is much on the Church with the relationship between a husband and a wife as an illustration of what it should be like in terms of leadership.

The word ‘submission’ used in many translations has a very bad press and is a source of much disagreement between Christians.

These verses in Ephesians say that Jesus is ‘head of the body’. A ‘head’ seeks to serve the ‘body’ in making sure it functions properly. And for the ‘body’ to work together, it needs the ‘head’ to provide it with the information it needs. Therefore the husband should take the lead in bringing out the best in their relationships and the wife should allow him to do so. All this is based on love, not control.

Hence, the use of the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ are two sides of the same coin. It is more about working together, rather than who is in charge. Jesus came to serve, not control. For elsewhere in Scripture, it says we are all equal under God, and we are His children. To me, that means a woman can be a leader in the Church, as much as a man. For we all can receive the Gifts of the Spirit. Our hang-up is because of the non-biblical division of priest and laity, and also over who can give communion. There is nothing in the New Testament limiting as to who can or cannot do things. It is all about character.

And that character should be reflected in a marriage. As we see from above, marriage is about bringing out the best in each other in the context of a loving relationship. But, it is also for the purpose of naturally creating children, and only a man and woman can do that within a loving, permanent relationship, sealed before God in a covenant before His people. Therefore, I don’t believe we can re-define marriage to include any other form of relationship. Children need to understand their sexuality and the limits of when sex can take place ie within a marriage of a man and a woman, for them to grow up as reasonably balanced adults.