What is “Marriage in the Eyes of God”?

What is “Marriage in the Eyes of God”?

From Laura via Twitter –

I have a serious question; What has to be, in order to consider two people married in the eyes of God? Is it possible to have “gotten married,” but not BE married? Thank you in advance.

Laura – this is a good question, one that many people ask. Here’s my quick answer, and then I’ll give an explanation.

Marriage in the eyes of God is when a man and a woman come together in committed, exclusive relationship, intended to last a lifetime, publicly and according to the laws and customs of their community.

Let me explain this phrase by phrase…

Marriage in the eyes of God – Marriage is God’s institution, not man. God brought Adam and Eve together in the first marriage (Genesis 2), and the New Testament repeatedly looks back to Adam and Eve as the foundational example of marriage.

Genesis 2:21-24

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

In Malachi 2:11, marriage is called The LORD’s holy institution which He loves.

A man and a woman come together – marriage is reserved for a man and a woman. Same sex unions are not marriages in God’s eyes. In my definition for marriage, I do say “according to the laws and customs of their community,” and I will explain that later. But what I don’t mean by that is that the community has the right to define everything that is true and right about marriage. By its laws, a community may say something things are marriage that God does not – God’s definition is more important. By its laws, a community may say a marriage is dissolved or divorced, when God does not. God’s definitions are more important.

In committed, exclusive relationship, intended to last a lifetime – The Bible repeatedly speaks against adultery and promotes the idea that the wife has every right to expect her husband to be sexually faithful in marriage, and the husband has the right to expect the same of the wife. Because God hates divorce (as in Malachi), then couples come together, it should be with the intention that it would last “until death do us part.”

Publicly and according to the laws and customs of their community – This is according to the Biblical pattern. In the Bible, we see marriages and weddings as just this – public, community events. Does where you live require a marriage license and some kind ceremony? Then get a marriage license and have some kind of ceremony. The Bible doesn’t tell us what kind of ceremony to have, but the principles of public and according to the laws and customs of the community stands. That’s how Jacob got married, that’s how Ruth and Boaz got married, that’s how the wedding in Cana was.

Sometimes people have the idea, “Adam and Eve didn’t have any of that. God just married them in the garden of Eden. We can get married the same way.” But with Adam and Eve, there was no community beyond themselves – those two were the whole community! Ever since the time of Adam and Eve, we see marriage being a public, community recognized thing.

Often, people who want to justify a private, secret “marriage before God” have less than pure motives for doing so. A common justification is, “But what if we were on a desert island and there was no one to marry us?” My answer to that is always the same: Yes, if you are deserted on an island and there is no community to recognize your marriage, then you can get married just like Adam and Eve. Until then, get married publicly and according to the laws and customs of the community where you live.

Are the curses of Genesis 3 no longer in effect, or just the curses that Moses talked about so extensively?

I use your commentary almost every day on the Blue Letter Bible. I’m teaching Healthy Sexuality in a small Christian college and was studying your commentary about Genesis 3. When I got to the part about the curses on Adam and Eve and how Jesus became a curse for us, does this mean that the curses are no longer in effect from Genesis 3, or just the curses that Moses talked about so extensively?

Genesis 3:14-19 – So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

This is a wonderful question. God pronounced curses upon the serpent, upon Eve as the woman and also as the representative of women, and upon Adam as the man and also the representative of men. It’s very difficult to say that those curses are erased today. For example, part of the curse is, “To the woman, He said, ‘I’ll multiply your sorrow in your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children.’” I don’t mean to make light of it at all, but it’s still pretty plain that women bring forth children in pain.

The curse for Adam is, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face, you shall eat bread.” In other words, you’re going to have to work hard for the food that you eat. And I think that part of the curse is still enforced today.

So no, I don’t think that Jesus erased the Adamic curse of Genesis 3. Rather, He took the place of those who receive the curses under the Mosaic Law. The covenant which God made with Israel at Mount Sinai (the Mosaic Covenant) has three main features: first, the law they were supposed to keep; secondly, the sacrifices they were supposed to make, because they couldn’t perfectly keep the law; and finally, the choice that God gave Israel between receiving a blessing if they obeyed God, or a curse if they disobeyed God. God made this covenant with Israel that their future blessing or cursing would be very much dependent upon their obedience.

Now, under the New Covenant that Jesus Christ instituted with His death and resurrection, we are not under that system with God any longer. We are blessed freely in Jesus Christ because Jesus bore that curse [see Galatians 3:10-14]. So, when we consider the idea that Jesus bore the curse for us, and satisfied the curse of God on our behalf, instead of tying that back to Adam and Eve and the Adamic curse in Genesis 3, I would connect it more with the curses connected with the Law of Moses. Ultimately, because of the work of Jesus Christ, even the Adamic curse will be redeemed and taken away, but that’s not on this side of eternity. But right here and right now, believers in Jesus Christ are already no longer under the curse relevant to the Mosaic Law. I hope that helps you. God bless you in the class that you’re teaching.

What is the difference between sin, abomination, and defilement?

The Bible gives us actually a very rich vocabulary concerning sin. It describes sin in many different ways. It uses the word sin, which basically means to miss the mark; there’s a target that we’re supposed to hit, and we miss it. Sin is described as transgression; that’s going over a line. Sin is described as a trespass, which is another way to describe going over the line. We could go on; there are many different words used to describe sin.

I think we can make small distinctions between, for example, the three concepts you present.

Sin, as we’ve discussed, is missing the mark.

Abomination was a word used in the ancient Hebrew vocabulary to describe a gross idolatry. That was an abomination. So, when the book of Daniel speaks of the abomination of desolation, it’s talking about a gross and offensive idolatry, or an idol that brings destruction.

Defilement is something that may or may not be directly connected to sin, because a person could be defiled by something that did not involve an act of sin themselves. You could be defiled by coming in contact with a dead body. Perhaps the way that you came into contact with a dead body was not sin, but you would still be considered unclean or defiled and would have to go through a ritual cleansing.

These concepts are all related in some way to sin and rebellion and such. But there is a distinction: sin is missing the mark; abomination, at least in biblical vocabulary, is a gross idolatry; and defilement is somehow to be stained or spotted in some way by the defilement of sin and everything associated with sin.

Do you have any advice on whether I should remarry my fiancée or my ex-wife?

I’m divorced from my ex-wife. I wanted to get back with her, but she wouldn’t. I finally moved on with my life and then she wanted to get back together. I’m engaged to someone else now. Your thoughts?

First of all, you should watch the video that’s on our YouTube channel called Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage. I lay down a lot of those principles in it, so I would recommend that you watch it.

Your particular situation is complicated enough to where I really think you need to seek godly pastoral counsel on this. Because there are a lot of individual aspects to this, including the state of your ex-wife’s life, both spiritually and emotionally. You need to carefully consider what she’s done, the kind of life she’s lived, and the kind of life you’ve lived since you separated or parted ways with your wife. You need to consider this: would being remarried to your ex-wife truly be a marriage in the Lord?

I don’t think it is as simple as you saying, “Which would I prefer? Would I prefer my ex-wife? Or would I prefer the woman I’m engaged to?” No, I don’t think it’s that simple. So, all I can say is that you really need to do a deep dive with some wise pastoral counsel, who can talk about this and learn about it in much greater detail than what you’ve given me. I couldn’t automatically approve it or exclude it; this definitely needs a closer person to follow up with you.

I’m sorry for giving you such an unsatisfactory answer. But I need to be honest with you. This is something that you need to be careful about. You’re going to make an important decision if you go forward with marriage to this woman to whom you’re engaged. There is a sense in which engagements are made to be broken. In other words, you are engaged to this woman, but you are not married to her at this point. And you shouldn’t regard yourself as being married to her. That’s another thing that you need to take into consideration with this. My advice is to get some wise pastoral counsel, ideally with a pastor who knows as much as possible about the whole situation.

In heaven, who will a divorced and remarried person be married to?

My brother died. He was divorced and remarried. My sister-in-law wants to know what happens if she dies: will he recognize her as his wife in heaven and will they be together?

A very similar question was asked to Jesus, in a more exaggerated way. The religious leaders asked Jesus about a woman who had seven husbands [see Matthew 22:23-33]. They wanted to know, “Whose wife will she be in the age to come?” Jesus answered that question by saying, you don’t really understand how eternity works. For us, on a human level, our marriage is the most important and vital relationship that we have on this earth on a human level. But what we have with God, and the fellow people of God in heaven, so far surpasses what we have in marriage, that marriage is put in a completely secondary position in heaven.

Jesus even goes so far to say that in heaven, we are neither married nor given in marriage. But we are like the angels in heaven, who seemed to be beyond such things. That’s not to put down marriage relationship as it exists right here on Earth, but it’s simply to exalt the glorification we will receive in heaven.

I am sorry to hear about the passing of your brother. But I would give the same answer to your sister-in-law, that in heaven, relationships are fundamentally different, including the marriage relationship. I think that’s a good way to understand it. It will not be a concern for us in heaven. Let me put it to you that way.

Can a divorced woman marry another man again? Would the new marriage be approved or blessed by God?

I want to recommend to you a video that’s on our YouTube channel called Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage. I think that’s a helpful way to answer your questions. But I’ll give you a quick summation.

It depends on the circumstances of the divorce. God gives two definite allowances for divorce. One allowance for divorce is when the marital bond has been broken by sexual immorality. The other allowance for divorce is abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.

If a divorce is under that umbrella of what God has said He will recognize as grounds for a divorce, then I believe that the divorce is actually a divorce, and a person is free to marry again. However, if a person has a divorce that’s recognized by the state or by the community, but not by God, then I don’t think that person is free to remarry. I think that person in God’s eyes could and should be regarded as if they were separated and not divorced. So that’s the quick answer, but I recommend that you take an hour of your time, and watch the video I put together regarding Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.

Can we marry someone from other faith?

Can we marry someone from another faith, or should we wait for the Lord?

I would say you should wait. Now I know that’s a difficult answer, because there are a lot of Christian men or women who are very lonely. They look at their life, and look at the future, and say, “I’d rather be married to an unbeliever, or someone from a different religion, than not be married at all.”

Again, I understand that. I have very little judgment for a person in that situation, knowing the difficulty that they live with. But I would say this: I think it is unwise in the eyes of God. It is an example of what Paul spoke against when he wrote about being unequally yoked.

In other words, it’s like a pair of oxen that have a yoke together, and it’s not equal; you’re not pushing or pulling together in the same direction. When somebody belonging to either no religion or to another religion marries a Christian, you have two people for whom the fundamental purpose of their life is different. You have two people for whom the most important things in their life are declared to be in different categories altogether.

In saying that, I don’t mean to imply for a moment that there aren’t people have good character and who could be a good spouse, who either do not believe or belong to a different faith. I don’t want to imply that at all because it’s just not true. I also don’t want to imply that if you marry a believer, someone who’s a Christian, that that automatically means that everything’s going to be wonderful and easy in your marriage. That’s not true, either. But the laws of the Old Testament were very strong for ancient Israel, that they were not to marry outside their faith. And that same pattern is presented to us in the New Testament.

So, I would just say that it’s not recommended. I know many people who have experienced great and significant grief in their life, because they chose to marry someone of a different religion than Christianity, or someone who has no religion, including no Christianity.

Now, the Bible has a different answer for someone who is a believer and is in a marriage to someone who’s not a believer or believes a different religion. To that person, the Bible has a different thing to say. It says, “Hey, stay in there, be godly, and maybe God will use you to be the instrument through which your spouse will come to faith.” But that’s a different issue than choosing to go ahead and marry someone of a different religion or no religion at all.

Regarding the curse of Genesis 3, will there ever be a time in history women can have kids without pain?

From the beginning, women could have kids without pain, but because sin they can’t. Will there ever be a time in history when women can have kids without pain?

Good question. But first of all, we can only assume that, if Eve had not been under the curse because of Adam’s sin, she wouldn’t have had pain in childbirth, because we don’t have any record of babies being born before the curse was handed down. In theory, what you say seems to track right along with the Scriptures. I’m just saying that we don’t have a biblical record of a baby being born without pain.

Obviously, right now, women experience significant pain in childbirth.

But your question is, “Will there ever be a time in the future when women can have kids without pain?” I don’t know, but we can say maybe, during the Millennium. When we talk about the Millennium, we’re talking about something that has to do with God’s unfolding plan for the future. And I want to respect the fact that Christians from different backgrounds have different opinions on the details of how God’s plan will unfold for the future. I have my understanding of what the Bible says, but I realize that there are other believers who are wrong about those things. Look, I’m saying that half in jest, because of course, I think they’re wrong; I would not hold an opinion that I knew to be wrong. But I want to say it respectfully, because I’m obviously they think they’re correct and I’m in the wrong.

I believe that there will be a literal reign of Jesus Christ over this earth for a thousand years. I believe that’s what the Bible describes. During that time, there will not be an elimination of the curse. For example, the Scriptures tell us that it seems that people will still die during those 1000 years; it’s just that their life span will be greatly lengthened. There are other aspects as well.

So, it seems that the curse is not eliminated during that Millennium, but it is greatly lessened. So maybe the right answer is that, during the Millennium, there will be just a tiny little bit of pain for women in childbirth; maybe like plucking out a hair? I don’t know, I’m being somewhat in jest about that. But I could see that perhaps there would be a great lessening of the pain as a way of God miraculously giving back some of what was lost during the curse.

Will the 24-hour day be shortened during the Tribulation?

During the Tribulation it says the days will be shortened. Will the 24-hour day be shortened?

No, I don’t believe that’s talking about the 24-hour day, I think it’s referring to that period. I would specifically understand “shortened” to mean that God is saying it won’t go on forever. The Bible gives several of the descriptions of the Great Tribulation, including those given by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse and those later on in the book of Revelation. Those descriptions tell us about a time that is so horrific that if the people living in the midst of those times were led to believe that those times would last forever without end, then it would drive them to absolute despair. But God gives them hope by saying, “No, this time will not last forever. It will be shortened. It will have an end, and it will end relatively soon.” So, I don’t think it refers to a shortening of the 24-hour days.

What are your thoughts about the Pentecostal denomination?

What are your thoughts about the Pentecostal denomination? I don’t want to get involved if they’re practicing anything unbiblical.

The only answer I can give you is not helpful for you in your situation. Because the only answer I can give you is you’re going to have to check out the individual church. You’ll want to take a look at the pastor, the leaders of that church, how they do things, what’s taught, the whole atmosphere of leadership, the exercise of spiritual gifts, if it’s done in a mostly biblical way, and so on. There can be such a variance between churches that are of the various Pentecostal denominations, that I really can’t give you any adequate answer to that question.

Right up the street from where I live is a wonderful pastor, Pastor Reno, and his church, South Coast Church. They are a remarkable church, and they are of a Pentecostal denomination. Pastor Reno is a man of God; he pastors his church in a godly way. It’s a good, healthy church. I don’t have the slightest reservation of anybody I know being a part of that congregation, and it is a Pentecostal church. It belongs to a Pentecostal denomination.

But would I give a blanket approval of every Pentecostal congregation, or the majority of churches within any particular denomination? No, I would not. All I can say is that you have to check it out one by one. There are definitely some healthy, good Pentecostal churches out there. And there are definitely some that are not so healthy, and are not such a good place for discipleship, evangelism, and growth in the Christian life.

What was the point in Caesar Augustus requiring registration for everyone (including Joseph and Mary) in Luke 2?

The answer to that is pretty simple: it was taxation. In order to get an accurate and comprehensive taxation, they had everybody go home to the location where their family or tribal line was registered. It was designed to give an accurate and comprehensive taxation of the people in the Roman Empire. So that was Augustus’ motive in doing it; that was his whole point, to achieve an accurate and comprehensive taxation. It’s the same reason why, in whatever country you live, they want to know your name, address, and government identification number, such as the Social Security Number in the United States.

Why do they want those details? So that you can be accurately and comprehensively taxed. So that’s why Caesar Augustus did it. They wanted to organize people according to their family; you could use the word tribe or clan, sort of in a Scottish sense, but their broader family group was required to be organized.

Therefore, Joseph and Mary had the obligation to go down to Bethlehem from where they lived in Nazareth. By the way, Joseph and Mary may have welcomed the opportunity to go down to Bethlehem, because no doubt there was a lot of gossip and whispering behind their back having to do with Mary’s pregnancy, which emerged before Joseph and Mary were actually married.

Why did God want to stop Balaam, who wanted to curse Israel?

Why did God want to stop Balaam who wanted to curse Israel? Israel was under God’s protection. Is Balaam’s curse effective anyway?

You’re asking the right man for this question. Because I’m pretty excited to say that I just finished my extensive revision of my commentary on the book of Numbers. Thanks be to God. I’ve been working for more than a year and a half on my revision to my commentary on the book of Numbers. It’s not up on the website (enduringword.com) or on the Enduring Word App yet. It will hopefully be up soon, but it’s not up yet.

Therefore, I did a pretty in-depth study on Balaam not long ago, since I’m going through and revising my commentary; hopefully I’m doing it better a second time around. I think it had been more than 20 or 25 years since I had gone through the Numbers commentary.

Balaam was a pagan prophet. He was a pagan diviner. Balaam was not an Israelite, but he was a pagan man hired to put a curse upon Israel. Balak, the king of Moab, was terrified of Israel, even though God told the Israelites, “Do not attack Moab.” Balak didn’t care; he thought that he was next in line to be attacked and defeated by the Israelites. So, out of his fear, Balak hired Balaam.

God told Balaam, “Don’t go with those men.” But Balaam was so insistent upon doing it, that actually you could say that God allowed him to do what his sinful heart wanted to do. God allowed him to go out and be a prophet for hire. However, God would not allow Balaam to directly curse Israel.

So, when King Balak hired Balaam, Balaam told him, “Listen, all I can do is do what God tells me to do.” And each time, instead of cursing Israel like the king of Moab wanted him to, Balaam ended up pronouncing a blessing over Israel, much to the annoyance of King Balak.

But at the end of it all, we find that Balaam was responsible for advising the king of Moab on how to bring Israel under God’s curse. That was by leading them into idolatry and immorality. And that’s exactly what the king of Moab did under the council of Balaam. Through that back doorway, a curse came upon Israel. Now, God used at all for good, there’s no doubt about that. But that’s the story of Balaam. God told Balaam not to go, but He allowed the stubborn and disobedient prophet to go, even though He told Balaam not to. And Balaam was not able to curse Israel in any direct sense. Instead, each time he prophesied, he pronounced blessing upon Israel and not cursing, because God gave him blessing to pronounce. It was only later, through the council or advice that Balaam gave to the king of Moab, that Balaam gave Balak instructions on how Israel could bring a curse upon themselves.

Must a person always be anointed by elders before entering the role of a pastor?

I feel called to the ministry. Do you believe that a person must ALWAYS be anointed by elders before stepping into the role of a pastor?

I would say no; not always. But I would say it normally happens that way. We can always think of exceptions. But normally, if you are called and if you are qualified for ministry, somebody else is going to see that. Hopefully many people will see it. And is it possible for somebody to actually be called and actually be qualified, although nobody else can see it? That has happened from time to time. So, I can’t say it’s always the case, but normally, when a man is called and equipped for ministry, other people can see it. Really, that’s what the recognition of the laying on of hands should communicate: “This man is ready. This man is not ready to know everything that there is to know about ministry, but ready to at least make a beginning in ministry. He’s called and he’s equipped. We approve of this man going into ministry.”

That’s how I would put it. Normally, a person should be recognized whether it’s anointed by elders or not. I think that’s a normal way for that to happen. But normally, somebody’s calling and equipping should be evident to others, but I wouldn’t make it an absolute thing.