- How was mankind created?
We were created by God in the image of God, male and female together (Gen. 1:27).
- Who is the author of marriage?
When God presented the first bride, our mother Eve, to Adam, He was establishing the first marriage (Gen. 2:22).
- After the first marriage, how are marriages to be formed?
A man should leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife, so that they might become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).
- What is the biblical standard for marriage?
One man devoted to one woman for life.
- How do we know that such monogamy is the normal biblical standard?
We know this because God created one man and one woman for each other as a pattern (Gen. 2:24), because Christ is the ultimate bridegroom and He has only one bride (Eph. 5:23), and because Christian leaders are required to set the example of devotion to one woman only (1 Tim. 3:2).
- What elements are necessary to bring a marriage into existence?
The three elements that are necessary are: eligible participants (cf. Gen 12:10-20; Mat 19:5; Eph 5:22-33), a public covenant of marriage (Gen. 2:22), and sexual consummation (Gen. 2:24).
- What is it called if there is sexual consummation but no covenant?
It is called fornication or adultery (1 Cor. 6:16-18).
- What is it called if there is a covenant but no consummation?
Conjugal union is an essential part of the marriage covenant (1 Cor 7:1-5). This is part of the explicit meaning of what it means to become ‘one flesh.’ The covenant is therefore consummated by the kind of sexual union that could, by God’s providential design, result in pregnancy (Mat 19:9). Those who have not consummated a one-flesh union in this way may be roommates, or friends, or life partners, but they are not married by the biblical definition.
- What is the relationship of being “one flesh” to the existence of a marriage?
There can be no marriage without it, but the mere fact of a one flesh union does not automatically create a marriage. Other uses of sexual union are shameful (1 Cor 6:15-16; Mat 19:9) and violate the nature of this covenant. Such parodies of marriage are not themselves marriage.
- Can genuine marriages be formed in disobedience?
Yes. One example would be remarriage after unjustified divorce (Deut. 24:1-4). Another example would be found in societies where polygamy is legal.
- Can the disobedience become profound enough that the end result is not marriage at all?
Yes. Homosexual “marriages” would be an example of this. Such unions are simply unnatural (Rom 1:24-28) and display a disobedience which God plainly presents as condemnation, not a covenant blessing.
- Why are these marriages not marriages?
Because they are physically incapable of resulting in one flesh, which requires a male and a female. In Scripture, marriage is tied explicitly to the creation of mankind as man and woman (Mat 19:5; Gen 2:22-24). The union of one flesh is explicitly connected to the possibility of procreation (Gen 1:27-28; Gen 2:22-24). Other arrangements violate this order and cannot, therefore, be marriages under God’s design.
- Why is heterosexual intercourse an essential part of the marriage covenant, while other sexual activity (for example: homosexual sexual activity) is not?
Such sexual activity is not the kind of thing that can ever culminate in a one flesh union. Inside the covenant, and between eligible participants, human sexuality is an expression of God’s creation design (Gen 2:22-24). Expressions of sexuality intended for mere pleasure or self-gratification reject God’s design and replace the Creator with the creation (Rom 1:21-25). These other expressions are therefore denials of God’s authority as the Creator of marriage.
- Can the State create any other forms of marriage or change the Creator’s definition of marriage?
No. Foundational laws concerning marriage in any society must reflect God’s justice and attributes (Rom 13:1-10). Disobedient rulers may sometimes seek to overturn God’s order, which is neither new nor surprising, but it does not change God’s pattern.
- What shall a Christian do when commanded by the State to accept another definition of marriage?
We should behave as the apostles did when commanded to disobey God by the rulers of Jerusalem, and choose to serve God rather than men (Acts 4:18-22).
- How should we treat those who believe themselves to be in homosexual “marriages?”
We should treat everyone we know with love and respect, speaking the truth to them in love. But because they are demanding our approval above all, we must take care that our compassion and care never be confused with such approval.