A Biblical Definition of Marriage
I understand that polyamorous relationships are not concerned with the definitions of marriage. They are not pursuing marriage as it has been historically defined, just an intentional relationship for an agreed-upon term. But if we are attempting to redefine the family, God does have something to say about this and marriage is central to this discussion.
I believe a biblical definition of marriage to be this: Marriage is a binding covenant created by God between one man and one woman for our holiness, for our joy, as a picture of the gospel to spread the glory of God. Each of these statements is intentional:
1. A Binding Covenant. Covenants matter to God. Breaking covenants is very serious to God. If you don’t believe me consider what God commits himself to in Genesis 15 and essentially says “let me be ripped asunder if I’m not faithful to you.”
2. Created by God. If humans created marriage, then we could make the rules. But marriage is a binding covenant that is created by God, as such He makes the rules.
3. Between one man and one woman. The two shall become one. This means breaking away from parents, past relationships, future relationships, and any other lovers.
4. For our holiness. Marriage is one of the means that God has ordained to sanctify us. God is not satisfied with us merely having a “good” marriage, He uses our marriage to make us more like Christ.
5. For our joy. Our joy increases when we, in holiness, fight for the joy of another.
6. As a picture of the gospel. Your marriage reflects Christ and His church. It was created by God to be a visible picture for everyone to see the love between Christ and His Bride.
7. To spread the glory of God. The purpose of God for humanity is to enjoy His grace and extend His glory. Marriage is no different. He uses marriages to rip out of our heart sin and unbelief. He uses marriage to further our joy. But he also uses marriage to create children and to raise and nurture children in godly homes.
You can see, then, from this definition why polyamory does not square with the biblical vision of marriage within society.
There is certainly more that could be said on this topic. This perhaps will be one small piece in a much larger conversation. But polyamory is on the rise and it’s something that Christians will be forced to reckon with. We must do so winsomely and compassionately, but we also must be committed to the biblical vision for marriage and family. And though it may have some similarities to a biblical picture for community polyamory, falls short of God’s design. This is especially in providing an accurate picture of the gospel. It would perhaps better image idolatry than covenant faithfulness. And properly imaging the gospel should be a principle concern for followers of Jesus.
Trueman, Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self
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