Biblical Marriage

In the Layman, Dr. JV Foster, president of the Bethesda Christian Institute, San Antonio, Texas, is quoted (or paraphrased) in an op ed against the ordination of gay clergy in the Presbyterian church.  His opposition is on the principal that “it is clear from the Bible that God intended marriage to be a sacred institution involving one man and one woman.”

I love the confidence of people who know what God wants, but I’m trying to figure out what part of the Bible makes it clear that a loving monogamous union between a man and a woman (presumably with consent of both the man and the woman) is what is meant by the term “marriage.”

By “Biblical marriage” do people mean:

A marriage in which unmarried women were the property of their fathers to be sold either to a prospective groom or as a slave? (Exodus 20 & 21)

Maybe they mean a marriage between a man and multiple wives (but not a marriage between a woman and multiple husbands). Lamech, Esau, Jacob, Asur, Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin, Belshazzar, Elkanah, and Rehaboam all had multiple wives. Abijah had 14. David and Gideon had many. Herod the great had 73 and Solomon had 700, plus hundreds of concubines.

Maybe they mean that if a bride is discovered not to be a virgin on her wedding night that she should be stoned to death? (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

Or perhaps “Biblical marriage” is a forced marriage between a woman and her rapist. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

Or maybe they mean that a woman who is widowed should be required to marry her former brother-in-law. (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)

Maybe a “Biblical marriage” is one that permits a man (but not a woman) to keep numerous concubines? (Genesis 21:10 )

Is “Biblical marriage” one in which the women of a town at war are forced to marry men of the army that attacked them? (Numbers 31:1-18)

Or perhaps it is a marriage of a female slave to a male slave as dictated by their owner? (Exodus 21:4)

Perhaps they are taking as a model Jacob, who fathered the 12 tribes of Israel with two wives and two female slaves.

If, by the word “marriage” they have something else in mind, haven’t they already “redefined” marriage since the word was used in Biblical times?

I am not against that.


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