No. 1 Where did the idea of Marriage Come From?
I’d like to talk for a short time about marriage. I hope another human being saying some of the things that he has seen and experienced might help you think about the things you have experienced and the truth that you understand. I hope we might help each other in the same way.
Marriage is a mess. I think most of us know that. 50% of marriages in our nation (USA) ends in divorce. So there is something badly wrong in the whole institution, either it was wrong in the first place or we are missing out badly in the way we are practicing it. The chances are that half of you listening to me this morning have been involved in divorce or are struggling against it with all your abilities at this very moment. I hope we can say something about marriage that will help each other to do something about our own marriage.
One of the big errors, it seems to me we make, is we take for granted that all marriages are the same. That is the marriage we contracted in a church is the same as the one we contracted in a registry office. Or, it is the same as one we contracted anywhere or just in bed with a casual relationship. In fact, there is a vast difference between them.
Christian vs. Civil Marriage
There is a wide difference between what we call a Christian marriage and what one might call a civil marriage. That is a marriage that is entered into purely on a legal basis. You can class with that the kind of marriage that has been entered into on a casual basis or common law basis — where two people have decided to live together. Both the civil marriage and the casual one are utterly different from what is known as a Christian marriage.
Yet it seems to me that many of us who went through a church wedding are not involved in a Christian marriage either. We went through the white wedding procedure and all the formality of having the minister there and relatives and friends, with all the beautiful singing from the choir, yet we are no more involved in a Christian marriage nor have we been than the dear souls that have been involved in a civil marriage or a casual relationship that has ended up living together.
So it is probably important at the beginning of our discussions to, which I hope will go on for several weeks, make a distinction between a Christian marriage and a civil marriage and to begin to talk about the differences between them.
Perhaps the biggest difference between a Christian marriage and a civil marriage is that the Christian marriage took place because it was God’s will for the two people to be together. You might say, “Stop right there; you’ve lost me. God’s will — I don’t even believe in God.” Well, all I can suggest at this point in our conversation is that it is very reasonable to believe there is a God. I don’t know if you have a thing against it because maybe you had a falling out in the old days with your grandmother, or mother, or some religious authority in your life but it is very difficult to take a position of atheism [a positive belief that there is no God]. It’s even more difficult to take a position of agnosticism where you say I don’t know whether there is a God or not. It is very difficult to take a position on those two purely on an intellectual basis. The reason I say that is some of the greatest men in our society believe there is a God purely on the basis of the intellectual evidence.
Einstein’s View of God
So you have a man like Einstein [Albert Einstein, German physicist, 1879-1955] saying the only explanation he can find for the order and design for the universe is that there is an intelligent mind behind that universe. You have a man like Darwin [Charles Darwin] who originated the theory of evolution as a popular hypothesis. Darwin ends his great thesis with the words, ‘How magnificent must the Creator be who out of so many various forms has created the world which we now see before us.’
Even the greatest minds have concluded there is a God on the basis that the fact is the most probable and plausible explanation of the existence of a world that has order and design in it. Of course the belief in God has been innate in mankind since the beginning of time. It’s very difficult to find any tribe however primitive it be that does not have a belief in some greater power beyond the universe. There is hardly a tribe that has not some sacrificial system of some kind in its practices showing that it does hold that there is a being somewhere in the back of beyond that originated the whole thing.
It is quite difficult to oppose a belief in a God of some kind even if you believe in evolution. If you believe in evolution you have to account for the origin of the first single cell amoeba. You have to explain in some way how order and design has come out of time plus chance. It really doesn’t make sense that there is no God when we look around us and see the order and design in the world.
So I would ask you at the very beginning of our discussion would you think a little about this whole issue about whether there is a God or not. It’s important because the fact that we are to be bound together in marriage of any kind stems right back to the fact it was originally his idea. Our marriages to each other are not just chance events but designed by him and planned by him. He knew who we would eventually marry and he has planned it in that way.
Perhaps you would think about those things in this coming week.
TO BE CONTINUED
Here is a talk about the basis of marriage: