Since God designed marriage, He gets to define it. Unfortunately, the Bible, God's revelation to us, is not a dictionary. So we must take our own definition of what makes a marriage from what He has said, and not from any other source.
The start of a marriage cannot be cultural. It can't be one thing in India and another thing in Paraguay. It can't be one thing during the time of Abraham and another during the 1800's. The marriage relationship must be universal and timeless. Why? Because otherwise the revelations about Christ and his bride, the Church, are subject to cultural interpretation and can mean whatever we want them to mean based upon our own definitions of marriage.
Let us start by ruling out certain assumptions about what makes a marriage. It doesn't have anything to do with a "pronouncement" by a magistrate or preacher. As in, "I now pronounce you man and wife." I see no basis in Scripture whatsoever for such a necessity in beginning a marriage.
How about vows? Everyone knows that a marriage starts with vows, right? I mean, we hear so much about people "violating their marriage vows", it must be in the Bible, right? WRONG. There is no Biblical basis for vows during a marriage ceremony. None. Shocking, isn't it?
The exchange of rings? Um.... no.
Next time we'll discuss what the Bible DOES say about marriage and look at some examples.
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