Marriage is under attack in our nation. I’m not just talking about the current assault on traditional marriage through legislation, though that’s a part of it. Marriage is a type of civil union recognized by the state, but not all civil unions are marriage. If the homosexual community wants equal rights, then let’s keep them equal and allow marriage and a civil union that provides the rights they feel they are currently denied…and keep those two things separate. As it is, it really isn’t as much about equal rights as it is denying the people of God to disagree with their lifestyle choice. The defense of marriage must be about the love of God, not civil rights.
The best defense of marriage is that we, as Christians, get it right. When the divorce rate is as high in the church as it is in society, something is horribly wrong. When adultery is as big of a problem in the church as it is in society, then we really leave ourselves with nothing to defend. When you read the Old Testament and you see polygamy, concubines, and other marital dysfunctions, we need to understand that these things are described, not prescribed. God’s intent was for an exclusive, intimate, monogamous relationship between one man and one woman. What man did instead came with horrible consequences…which is also recorded in those Old Testament passages. Marriage, between one man and one woman was God’s intent, yet even that is only a shadow of the eternal reality.
In the beginning, it was not good for Adam to be alone. This wasn’t because he was incompetent and needed a woman to straighten him out. It was because he would never understand the deep, intimate communion that God wanted to have with mankind unless he had a counterpart: someone with whom he was designed to fit together, and be whole with. God enjoys this kind of intimacy in the love shared between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. He wants to share that sacred intimacy with us. We are given the marriage union to give us a picture of that kind of intimacy.
Marriage is a living picture of the church’s relationship to God. He is our husband, and we, the church, are his bride. The reason marriage in our society and church culture is so horribly violated is because of our marital unfaithfulness to God. We chase after “other lovers” and forget him. We’ll involve him when it’s convenient or necessary, but pursue what feels good otherwise.
Through the prophet Hosea, God spoke to his adulterous bride. “Let her put away her harlotry from her face and her adultery from her breasts” (Hosea 2:2). She was using her lips to gain the favor of her lovers, and using her body for her own pleasure. We do the same. We will embellish the truth, or outright lie, so people will think well of us, or so we can find favor with (seduce) certain people. It happens in every job interview, and when pastors get together and talk about, “So, how’s your church doing?”.
We use our time, effort, and energy for our own pleasure with little consideration for our Husband. We spend ourselves in hobbies, on habits, and in relationships that give temporal satisfaction and relegate God to “church things.” Treating your walk with God like a job where you punch in, do your duty, and punch out, just because you ought to…and really want to avoid hell, is not intimacy. That’s honoring God with your lips while your heart is far from him. It’s mailing it in to keep the husband happy enough while we go chase our lovers who excite us.
In a marriage, if one spouse gains anything from a relationship with a person of the opposite sex, that they are not getting from their spouse, that is a form of adultery. Marriage union requires social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy. If any one of those intimacies are being filled by one who is not your spouse, you are robbing them of your devotion and are poisoning your marriage. Likewise, if we seek to gain something from a person, possession, or practice that we will not seek to receive from God, then we are committing spiritual adultery and poisoning our walk of faith and our witness to the world.
It is okay to have friends of the opposite sex. There are ladies in our church whom I consider friends. I smile at and greet them with a hug. I will hug and kiss my mother on the cheek. This is not adultery because my wife is involved in these relationships and they’re kept in their proper place. I’m not gaining anything from them…in fact, I’m giving from a place of fullness because I’m filled by God, and in my marriage. In the same way, it’s okay to have hobbies and such that you enjoy. God delights when we shine for him in our gifts, talents, and abilities. He wants us to find enjoyment. Yet, these things that have a place in our life must stay in their place and not become an object of worship. When you sit down to play a video game, or call to set up a tee time, or log on to the internet on a lazy afternoon and God whispers in your ear, “Come sit with me. Come closer,” yet you choose to chase your other lover instead…that is where adultery begins.
My wife is not number one on my life. If she is number one, that means there is a number two. My wife has exclusive rights to my heart. She is the only one. There are other women who are friends and family with us, and they do not hold sway over my heart. At all. God cannot not be a part of your life, sharing time and priority with other lesser things. He must be your all in all. Our relationship with him must be above even that of our spouse (for we can’t love our spouse as we are commanded unless it is).
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her…and she will sing there as in the days of her youth” (Hosea 2:14-15). This is a picture of seduction. God is wooing his bride. In the same way, he whispers to you to draw near to him. He is inviting you to deep intimacy; calling you away from your other lovers and into his arms where you will find true fulfillment and satisfaction. For the love of God, listen for his voice and respond, “not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living spirited dance” (1 Thessalonians 4:1 MSG). Draw near and let the things of earth grow strangely dim. Learn to see your activities as God does. Are they pure, or would he see your choices as the adulterous pursuit of other lovers? Holiness and fulfillment only come from undefiled intimacy with your Husband, the Lord your God.