How do we see marriage explicitly? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
We’re in the book of Exodus in our look through the Bible at marriage and as we get into this, we will see a lot of customs that don’t match up with a modern Western approach to marriage. This isn’t a culture that practices dating or marriage for love. You do not normally choose your spouse. Marriage seems to be a different kind of relationship.
At this point, skeptics of the Bible who tend to be left politically shout with glee about how much marriage has changed. Thus, we live in a time also where marriage is changing and it is changing so much that it is no longer supposedly a union of a man and a woman. We have already changed marriage since then, so why not?
So for this, I want to give a brief overview. Some matters will be acknowledged. Why people enter into marriage has changed. Why people got married has changed. How people got married has changed. There is something that hasn’t changed.
But what about polygamy?
This was a borderline practice that was allowed in the Old Testament. Still, if anything, this could count as one man having multiple marriages. When Joash was the last surviving member of the line of David that was able to rule, he was granted to have two wives. After all, they needed to produce more children again.
So in the Old Testament, most marriages were arranged. This is still common in much of the world today. A person doesn’t know their spouse sometimes until the day that they marry them and then they are to give to the relationship and make it work. In many cases, it really does work.
Marriage was mainly about the uniting of the families together and the survival of the family. This was to pass on the heritage of the family and ensure that they would not be forgotten in Israel. Producing children was a must as that was the way to make sure this would take place and you needed a lot. Today, we take it for granted that our children will live and start saving for college while they’re in the womb. Not so in those days. Child mortality was very common.
While love was not the basis, there was no doubt that it was hoped for. If you read Proverbs, a man is told to delight in his wife. Song of Songs is a very passionate poem about love and especially sexual love in a marriage relationship.
Divorce did happen, but it was not a practice that God celebrated in Scripture, even when He did it Himself to Israel. The breaking of a covenant is always a tragedy. Now I realize some people are saying, “But my spouse abused me. Are you saying that the divorce was a tragedy?” Yes, and hear me out on this please. It is a tragedy that one person broke a promise to love and cherish the other and treat them like a partner in life and wound up abusing and/or betraying them. While the divorce was sadly a necessity in this case, the first tragedy is that the betrayal had already taken place. It is sad the situation was so bad that one person had to remove themselves from it to protect themselves when marriage was meant to be a relationship for the growing of love between the two.
So as we go into this, I’m not going to say every time about how different the union was entered into and the different purposes it served. I figure it’s easier to do this upfront than to do that. Still, we will see differences between our day and theirs. The past is a strange place. They do things differently there.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)