Think About Marriage in the Bible

A reply to the third bonus proof of God is Imaginary.

The anonymous author of God is Imaginary wades through several passages in the Bible that have rather interesting forms of marriage–namely, arranged marriages or forced marriages as resulting from a rape–and concludes that God is imaginary. It is a stretch to conclude that God is imaginary just because the Bible contains difficult passages, yet that is the conclusion that this website has jumped to time and time again as they expose Bible difficulties.

It is further a stretch to assume that God approves of every action in the Bible. Much of the time, the Bible is frank about human sin and is explicit about God’s wrath against that sin, which means that God most certainly does not approve of every action found in the Bible.

Before examining the passages that GII uses to form an allegedly biblical definition of marriage, let's look at how traditional Christians have established marriage. The first task is a quick look at the created order. First, God made Adam, and from Adam, he made Eve. The original human couple was one man and one woman--this is where the biblical definition of marriage starts.

Starting from the original created order is logical because Jesus appeals to the original created order when answering questions about marriage. He says that it was God's intention for marriage to be permanent, since the spouses have been created one flesh. This divine unity isn't something that secular courts can separate in a divorce.

Paul, while not referring to the original created order, in his numerous references to marriage he does presuppose that it will be between one man and one woman, and that that connection is indissoluble. The most obvious mention is in the pastoral letters, where he says that bishops and deacons must be the husband of one wife. The elders are to be the examples of Christian living for the congregations they are charged with, so it stands to reason that all are expected to be married to one person only.

On to the examples given in the bonus proof. The first example is King David, who has seven wives listed in the Bible. The Bible calls King David a man after God’s own heart, so the critic assumes that God’s stamp of approval is on the polygamy. King David is called a man after God’s own heart despite the fact that he committed adultery and murdered the husband of his mistress. Those actions were specifically punished, so God does not approve of everything that King David did on this earth.

The reason that David is a man after God's own heart is that David recognizes his sins and repents of them. This is a repeated pattern throughout the king's life.

Next, the critic examines some of the Mosaic Law. This website has repeatedly shown itself to have no understanding of the relationship between law and grace, and this is another shining example. The Mosaic Law allows several alternative forms of marriage, such as polygamy and (most disturbing to a modern mindset) punishing a rapist by demanding he marry his victim. The argument runs thus:

Why do Christians ignore all of these other forms of marriage, which are quite clearly allowed in the Bible? Why do Christians not kill people who break the commandment forbidding adultery as the Bible demands? Because God is imaginary. If God were real, Christians would do what the Bible actually tells them to do.

Christians ignore these forms of marriage because they are part of the Mosaic Law, which is no longer in force. When Jesus said that divorce is not allowed, he appealed to the original created order. That is what we do today, as I've explained above: Christians appeal to the original created order for a biblical definition of marriage–one man, one woman.

Christians do not kill people who violate the Law because the penalties are no longer in force. The penalties exist to show how severely God views things like adultery, not as an excuse for us to be vigilantes. The Law was given to ancient Israel and is not for us to enforce or follow today, since we are under grace.

Bottom line: This does nothing to prove that God is imaginary, it only proves that the Bible contains some difficult passages with cultural norms that are no longer in force these days.