The Two Shall Become One, Part I
- Peter Beck Assistant Professor of Religion, Charleston Southern University
- 2009 3 Nov
There's a lot of discussion going on these days about the nature of marriage. The citizens of Maine will be voting on this crucial issue very soon. They have been asked to decide whether marriage will be legally limited to man and woman or if the institution applies equally to homosexual relationships as well. Many in the nation are watching this vote carefully to determine the next steps in the defense of traditional marriage or the advancement of so-called "gay marriage."
Rather than testing the political winds to see which way they are blowing or casting our vote to determine the definition of marriage, Christians must turn to God's word for his view. God has a view. It is clearly defined and spiritually charged.
The place to begin when considering the biblical view of marriage is in the beginning. In Genesis 1, God creates. He creates the world. He creates the animals. He creates man. He creates the male/female relationship.
As we see in Genesis 1, the theological doctrine of the imago Dei, the image of God, relates directly to the question of marriage. Genesis 1:26 says that God determined to create man, adam, in His image, in His likeness. While there is much debate as to the exact meaning of the image of God, this much is clear according to the text at hand: all humans possess the image of God, the image of God is connected to mankind's dominion over the creation, and the image of God bears on male/female relationships. As Moses recounts, God created man in His image, male and female He created them.
In the image of God, man and woman reflect God's image as they share dominion over the created world. Their limited sovereignty is to resemble His perfect sovereignty. Likewise, they are relate to each other in a way that mirrors the loving relationship within the Trinity. Just as the Father relates to the Son and the Spirit, so too does humanity relate to one another.
Relationship and the need for it is basic to human nature because it is basic to God's nature. In fact, Genesis 1:28 says that God created man and woman specifically for the purpose of relationship. "Be fruitful and multiply," He commanded them. The fulfillment of this first and seminal biblical command would have been impossible outside of male/female relationship.
Only together can Adam and Eve exercise dominion as described in Genesis 1 and fulfill the Creation Ordinance - be fruitful and multiply. They cannot adequately live up to their potential as beings created in the image of God without the relational aspect. The two cannot be divided.
God's plan for filling the earth and moving towards Christ's incarnation and the ultimate consummation of all things under His reign depended upon Adam and Eve relating to each other in a fashion unlike their relationship with anything else in creation, including subsequent people of the same gender. Thus, just twenty-eight verses into the Bible, God reveals His plan for human sexuality and the centrality of the marriage relationship between man and woman.
November 2, 2009
Peter Beckserves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).