There’s an often-used rationale in the culture with respect to the Bible and marriage that goes something like this …
Many marriages, and many aberrations of marriage, are described (not prescribed) in the Bible. So the question that often gets asked is … “What about Jesus? What did He say about marriage?”
This week, I watched a popular “news” person tear into a Bible scholar on live TV with the assertion that Jesus never said a single thing about homosexuality being a sin, followed by the question, “So why are you saying that your view against gay marriage is Christian (insert angry self-satisfied “I just owned you” look right here)?!”
Back in 2008, Newsweek writer Lisa Miller did a piece (edited in 2010) on this very issue where she wrote (among other things) …
“ … the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, [but] neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.”
Miller says other things in the article about Jesus and marriage too, like:
“Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments—especially family.”
“The biblical Jesus was—in spite of recent efforts of novelists to paint him otherwise—emphatically unmarried.”
“Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he roundly condemns divorce (leaving a loophole in some cases for the husbands of unfaithful women).”
“Jesus reaches out to everyone, especially those on the margins, and brings the whole Christian community into his embrace. The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, cites the story of Jesus revealing himself to the woman at the well—no matter that she had five former husbands and a current boyfriend—as evidence of Christ’s all-encompassing love.”
Quoting James Martin—a Preist: “ … if Jesus were alive today, He would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad.”
For the rest of this post, I want to interact with (and push back on) these ideas, though I invite your interaction and dialogue about my conclusions in the comment section. There may be much more that needs to be discussed.
1. Jesus never defined marriage as one man, one woman.
When Jesus talked about married people, he spoke of “a man … [and] … his wife” in Matthew 19:5.
Jesus went on to use the language “ … the two shall become one.”
Jesus quoted the text of Genesis 2:24 as the foundation of His teaching on marriage. This is the biblical doctrine of “origins.” Jesus even used the clause “from the beginning it was not so” when talking about divorce.
What does this mean? It means that in the teaching of Jesus, if you want to have a true and pure understanding on the ideals of marriage, you go to “the beginning.”
This is also echoed by the Apostle Paul in his teaching on marriage in the book of Ephesians 5:31. What you have in Genesis is one man, one woman and a God-sanctified marriage covenant that, according to Jesus, is intended to last a lifetime (Mat. 19:8).