The way God made marriage is different from the way Humankind made marriage.
The Bible presents marriage as being only between a man and woman, which has caused a lot of churches to prohibit, not condone, and not perform same-sex marriages. But is the church prohibition on same-sex marriage truly justified on Biblical principles? Well, to answer that we must first ask, how did God design marriage? To answer this question, we need to look at the first husband and wife, Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve are God’s perfect example of marriage because of the way He designed them. God made them spiritually ‘one’ in Genesis 1:26, and then He made them ‘one flesh’ in Genesis 2:22 (to understand how God made Adam and Eve spiritually and physically read Be Fruitful and Multiply). Therefore, a husband and wife should be ‘one’ in the spirit and then become ‘one’ in the flesh.
Becoming 'One Flesh'
After God made Eve and then brought her to Adam, Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh”. So, here in verse twenty-four, the Bible is showing us what marriage is. Marriage is becoming ‘one flesh’. Verse twenty-five goes on to say, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed”. Some Christians like to believe that God preformed a marriage ceremony while Adam and Eve were in the garden. But if marriage were truly the ceremony or the vows, it would have been written in the Bible for our knowledge and confirmation on what marriage is. The Bible is clear on how God designed marriage. After God took Adam’s rib and made Eve, Adam then declared, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh...”, scripture goes right in to saying, “for this reason”. Therefore, the Bible proclaims Adam and Eve as husband and wife because they were made ‘one flesh’. Marriage is becoming ‘one’.
In Genesis 29, the scene of Jacob and Leah helps to bring out more of an understanding of how God designed marriage. Jacob was working for seven years so that he could have Rachel as his wife. He says to Rachel’s father, Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her”. Jacob is already calling Rachel his wife because he loves her as a husband should love his wife. Remember, he worked for seven years to marry her. But Laban, Rachel’s father, tricked Jacob. Verse twenty-three says, “Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her”. Had Jacob known it was Leah that was with him that night he wouldn't have “went in to her”. Leah is now Jacob's wife. Jacob was furious, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” Genesis 29:25. Laban answered Jacob, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn”. Laban and Jacob understood how God designed marriage and that was to go in to a woman or to allow a man to go in to you if you’re a woman. Continuing with the story, Jacob worked for another week and then Laban gave Rachel as well. “So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah” Genesis 29:30. Jacob now had Leah and Rachel as wives but loved Rachel more. There were no vows, just work and then sex.
Marriage is Becoming 'One Flesh'
Why do we think that kings like David and Solomon had so many wives and concubines? Observe how is there no law banning premarital sex in the Bible. Marriage is sexual intercourse in the Bible because of how God made the first husband and wife. Each time an individual has sex with a person they are reenacting how God created the first husband and wife, which makes them 'one flesh', which makes them married.
"The Greek word for 'fornication' is 'porneia', which means harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry: The NKJ renders 'fornication' as 'sexual immorality.' The NIV renders it as 'marital unfaithfulness/infidelity.' As you can see Christianity has made up its own meaning of fornication to mean sex before marriage." Marshall Beretta
Sex is marriage, so how can there be sex before marriage? Jesus shares the same understanding when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Jesus was telling the woman about His water, and how she would never thirst again. The woman eagerly wanted to receive this water, so Jesus said, “Go, call your husband and come here”. The woman said to Jesus, “I have no husband”. Jesus already knowing the woman circumstances said, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly”. Jesus understood how God made marriage and also how Mankind made marriage. God made marriage as becoming ‘one flesh’, we made marriage as the ceremony, vows, and certificate.
In an article called Where are marriage ceremonies in the Bible?, Ryan Ahlgrim states that, “Beginning in the Middle Ages, churches kept records of who was married to whom”. We don’t see marriage ceremonies in the Bible because that is not how God made marriage, that’s how we made marriage to help us keep track of who is married to who. We know that there were ceremonies in the Bible days because it was at a wedding that Jesus preformed His first miracle. But the Bible doesn’t focus on the ceremony because God wants us to understand the way He made marriage is by becoming ‘one flesh’, which only a man and a woman can do.
Covenants of Love Celebration
A wedding ceremony is showing and giving your love and commitment to one individual for the rest of your life or for the rest of theirs. These vows, promises, and covenants are celebrated and shared for all to see in front of friends and family. Proclaiming the love that the two individuals share to the world. This type of commitment was made for all, we can see that in the story of Jonathan and David. Jonathan and David made covenants to and with each other because they loved each other as their own life. They showed sacrificial love, agape, which is true love. God did not stop them from making covenants of love to each other because He brought them together (learn more in When Two Hearts Become One). Jesus tells us in Matthew 19 when responding to divorce, He says, “what therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”. Mankind can join themselves with anyone in marriage, meaning ceremony and ‘one flesh’, but often times the marriage doesn’t last. But when we allow God to join us together with whom we are supposed to be with, the marriage will last. That’s why Jesus gives His stance on divorce.
Jesus gives us a class of people that would not marry in the way that He made marriage, which I will discuss in my next post. But know that we know how God designed marriage, we should better understand what He is saying about marriage.
So, to answer the question in the beginning, ‘is the church prohibition on same-sex marriage truly justified on Biblical principles?’, the answer is no. The Bible presents Jesus as the Bridegroom to bring about an understanding to show us how the Church will one day be 'one' with Him, as only a bridegroom (man, male) and a bride (woman, female) can be. But the Bible does not focus on the ceremony or even tell of a ceremony because biblically speaking marriage is becoming 'one' and/or being 'one'.
To wed two people of the same sex would not be an offense to God nor redesigning the way He made marriage because truth is, we can’t redesign the way He made marriage because marriage is sexual intercourse. Jesus would officiate a same-sex wedding, especially if brought together by Him because He united the two making them spiritually 'one' (learn more in Agapao). The two individuals are then doing exactly as He commanded, which is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. The two individuals are vowing to sacrificially love, agapao, one another just like we see with Jonathan and David, with Jesus and His beloved, and like a husband should love his wife (Ephesians 5:25). And like Jonathan and David, God sees them as covenant friends. A man and woman are covenant friends as well, but because they are able to become ‘one’ in the flesh, this makes them husband and wife.
Vowing to love someone for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, to death do you part, is to love someone unconditionally, to promise agape. Agape is for everyone! Two people of the same sex can make covenants of agape just like two people of the opposite sex can. God brings two individuals together in unconditional love.
To be in Agape is to be in Love because Agape is True Love.
Jesus is showing that the highest form of love is Agapao (learn more here)