Marriage in the Bible is portrayed in a variety of ways.
Most Christians believe God will only accept an Adam and Eve style marriage yet scripture challenges and contradicts that viewpoint.
Marriages in the Bible, whatever form they take, reflect the cultural values of biblical times. Sexual practices which embraced pagan worship of the fertility goddess were not affirmed in scripture. Yet the Bible provides many examples of non-cultic marriage partnerships different than the Adam and Eve model, which are affirmed and blessed in scripture.
Diverse kinds of marriage which God affirmed and blessed in the Bible.
1. Polygamous Marriage, one man with more than one wife. A polygamous marriage is not an Adam and Eve style marriage relationship yet God accepted, affirmed and blessed polygamous marriages in scripture.
Strangely enough, modern Christians reject polygamy, a biblical form of marriage, on the basis that in our modern world, polygamy is illegal and is not affirmed by modern culture.
Polygamous marriage provides strong proof that God does not affirm the Complementarian view
of Adam and Eve.
Hagar was Abram's second wife,
Genesis 16:3, while Sarah was still alive and married to Abraham.
Here is a brief list of polygamous marriages in the Bible. There are many more but these will demonstrate our point.
a. Lamech had two wives - Genesis 4:19.
b. Esau had three wives - Genesis 26:34 & 28:9.
c. Jacob had four wives - Genesis 29:28 & 30:4-9.
d. Gideon had many wives - Judges 8:30.
e. Abijah had 14 wives - II Chronicles 13:21.
2. Levirate Marriage, from the Latin ‘levir’ meaning ‘brother-in-law.’ In the ancient near East, if a man died without having children, his brother was expected to marry his widow and produce children to continue the lineage of the deceased brother, Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Marriage in the Bible.
Obviously, this is not marriage in the Bible as portrayed in the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2. No western Christian today would practice this ancient Biblical law. Think about it.
Would Focus On The Family support any Christian in western society practicing levirate marriage? Focus On The Family would tell us that because levirate marriage is illegal in western society and levirate marriage goes against modern cultural values, therefore FOTF opposes levirate marriage.
The arguments of modern Christians against polygamy and levirate marriage (and gay marriage) are more culturally based than biblically based. Non-gay Christians prefer to believe their arguments are biblically based but the reality is,
modern arguments against gay marriage are culturally based because, in context, the Bible simply does not support their anti-gay stance or their personal views on marriage. We know that because anti-gay Christians reject all of these biblical marriage models for cultural reasons instead of biblical reasons.
3. Mixed marriage. Abraham and Sarah conspired to cause their slave girl Hagar to marry Abraham and produce children.
"Thy word is true
from the beginning" Psalm 119:160
Biblical cultures affirmed polygamy
but modern western culture does not.
This form of marriage in the Bible is a variation on polygamy yet different than polygamy because the slave girl had no option except compliance. Slaves did not have the right to say no! - Genesis 16:1ff.
Marrying a slave girl is a biblical form of marriage but modern Christians reject this form of marriage because it goes against basic human rights and modern cultural values.
The rationale used by modern Christians to reject gay marriage (that gay marriage goes against modern cultural values) actually could allow modern Christians in some places to affirm gay marriage if they were consistent and applied the same rationale to gay marriage that they apply to polygamy and levirate marriage and slave marriage.
4. Prisoner of war marriage, between Israelite warriors and Midianite virgins - Numbers 31:1-18. At God’s instruction, the Israelite Army killed all the men and boys of Midian and all the Midianite women who were not virgins. The Israelite warriors then married the surviving virgins, Numbers 31:18.
This is certainly not Adam and Eve style marriage, where two people leave father and mother and cleave to each other in marriage, Genesis 2:24.
God never said about marriage
what many Christians think
He said about marriage.
Most modern Christians would reject prisoner of war marriage even though it was a valid form of marriage in the Bible. Modern Christians vehemently oppose this form of Biblical marriage because it goes against modern law and modern cultural values.
Is this truth beginning to sink in, that marriage in the Bible encompasses much more than the marriage of Adam and Eve? Biblical marriage models reflect the culture in which they occurred. And that is precisely the point.
In the Bible, God never said that He affirmed only the Adam and Eve marriage paradigm. Marriage in the Bible reflects the culture in which it occurred. Our approach today as faithful, Bible believing Christians should be to affirm marriage forms which are consistent with biblical values.
of character, commitment, faithfulness, love and mutuality. Therefore the modern church should affirm and bless gay marriage. To do anything less does a grave injustice to your gay brothers and lesbian sisters.
Gay marriage, a committed, faithful, loving, mutually satisfying, non-cultic partnership between two men or two women, is entirely consistent with biblical moral values and should be affirmed by modern Christians.
Using the cultural test for marriage in the Bible (Is it compatible with current cultural values?) which modern Christians employ to reject polygamy, levirate marriage, marriage with slaves and marriage with the virgin daughters of vanquished enemies, in some places can provide a principled basis to allow the modern church to affirm and bless gay marriage.
5. Slave marriage. This is different from a normal marriage in that a male slave had no right to keep his wife and children, if his master sold him or them, Exodus 21:1-6. Modern Christians reject this form of marriage in the Bible as wrong because: (a) it goes against our modern ethos of individual freedom, and (b) it goes against modern cultural values, and (c) it is illegal today.
6. Same sex marriage. The partnership of Jonathan and David is an example of same sex marriage in the Bible. Jonathan’s father referred to David as his son in law in 1 Samuel 18:21. There is more information about David becoming King Saul's son in law in our book, Gay Christian 101.
David And Saul?
by Julius Kronberg, 1885. Some believe this pictures David and Jonathan.
The Jonathan and David love story is the most emphasized
human love story
It receives more descriptive emphasis from God, the Ultimate Author of Scripture, than any heterosexual love story. Marriage in the Bible is not the vanilla concoction some modern Christians seem to think it is. The Hebrew words used to describe Jonathan and David’s love indicate romantic, emotional attachment. King Saul refers to their relationship with a vulgar Hebrew idiomatic expression indicating Jonathan and David were sexually intimate, 1 Samuel 20:30.
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This page updated January 29, 2017
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