One Good Reason to Stay? How about 7?

I heard a song today that made me think. The chorus repeatedly said, “I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away… But baby, I just need one good one to stay.”

I thought, “One-hundred million? What an exaggerator…”

Another thing I thought was, “One good reason is all you need? I can give you way more than that!

Here are just the ones that come to my mind without deep consideration. Do you need one good reason to stay committed to your spouse? Well, here are seven.

  1. You aren’t nearly as awesome as you think you are. If your spouse puts up with you, then you should stay with that gracious person.
  2. Things never stay as they are. If you give up when times are hard, then you will never get to enjoy the wonderful benefits of life on the other side of difficult times.
  3. Marriage is an institution. Your marriage is not an isolated relationship, but marriage itself is a formal and divine institution. You owe it to the institution of marriage to stay with it.
  4. Marriage is not for your happiness; it is for your holiness and true joy. If you only do or experience those things that make you happy, then you’d never eat your veggies, brush your teeth, keep your job, or experience anything of real value. Happiness is fleeting, but marriage forces you to actually grow in humility and grace and gratitude and real joy.
  5. You promised! Remember when you said those vows in front of all your friends and family who gathered together to celebrate your union as husband and wife? You said that nothing but death would part you. Only a promise kept is a real promise, and you must keep your word.
  6. Jesus said you have to. This is the ultimate power play, but this is something that too many people take lightly. Jesus said that obedience to His commands is evidence of genuine love for Him. If Jesus is your Savior, then He is also your Lord (King, Ruler, Master). If you rebel against Him, then He will be your judge.
  7. Jesus promised that obedience to His commands will lead to your joy. If the threat of punishment and the fear of wrath doesn’t motivate you, then consider the reality that Jesus promised joy in obedience. Think about that! Jesus is God; therefore, He knows about everything, and He said that His rules are for your good. If you are really after your own good, your own joy, your own true pleasure, then trust Jesus’ words over your own foolish thoughts.

If you are thinking about throwing in the towel, or simply having a rough time in your marriage, then think deeply about these reasons and the many more there are for you to stay. While this life is full of pain and suffering of all kinds, there is true joy in Christ and in following Him.

May God grant us grace to know Him, grace to love Him, and grace to submit ourselves to His good and fatherly commands.

Does the Bible really approve of Polygamy?

Throughout this year, I have been preaching through the book of Genesis with my congregation. Last Sunday we arrived at Genesis chapter 16, where polygamy is mentioned for the second time in the Bible. Earlier in the Bible (and in human history), we read about a man named “Lamech” who had two wives (Gen. 4:19-24). The context of Genesis 4, however, is easily perceived as negative. That is: “Lamech was a bad man; and this bad man did multiple bad things, including the taking of more than one wife.”

Genesis 16 records polygamy in the household of an essential character in the Biblical storyline (even a “good guy”), Abraham.  This is often a topic that becomes quite problematic for many Christians who want to be consistent in their adherence to and affirmation of the Bible.

Since the Bible tells us that polygamy was practiced by some of the most important leaders of the Judeo-Christian Faith, how can any Bible-believing Christian argue for monogamous marriage today?

Well, here are seven points of consideration that will help us gain a better perspective and help us have a good answer to the big question:

  1. The Bible consistently affirms Monogamous Marriage
    • The Bible clearly institutes and defends monogamous marriage defined as a lifelong partnership between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:21-25).
    • Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 2:21-25) is undoubtedly the first wedding ceremony, and God divinely institutes and defines marriage at that point.
    • Both Jesus (Matt. 19) and Paul (1 Cor. 7) refer back to Genesis 2 in reference to defining and regulating marriage.
    • When the Bible speaks positively about marriage (particularly in any imperative or didactic way) it consistently affirms monogamous, lifelong, male-female relationships.
  2. Abram and Sarai are clearly depicted as disobeying God in Genesis 16
    • Ancient pagan and common customs at the time of Abram and Sarai did allow for (at times even obligate) a polygamous method of procreation.
    • Hammurabi’s Code, a reference to “brides” and “slaves” in a Nuzi text, and an Old Assyrian marriage contract all confirm that what we see in Genesis 16 was common in that period.
    • However, the addition of Hagar to the marital relationship between Abram and Sarai is clearly undesirable from the perspective of the text.
    • It is precisely on the matter of polygamy that Abram and Sarai are taking God’s promise into their own hands and proving themselves to be disobedient.
  3. Abram’s union to Hagar (Gen. 16:3) is a mockery of the original marriage ceremony (Gen. 2:21-25).
    • “Sarai, Abram’s wife, took (grasped, seized) Hagar” and “gave (give, hand down) her to Abram”
      • God formed a woman and “brought (bring, lead in) her to the man [Adam]”
    • Hagar is never once a volitional person in this exchange, but simply an object to be used by others
      • Adam’s wife is raised to an equal status with the apex of God’s creation, when Adam says, “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”
    • Hagar is called Abram’s “wife” (iššā), but only in a utilitarian sense; there is no mention of anything more than procreative intent here.
      • When God give Adam his wife, he celebrates in poetic song and gives her a new name.
  4. The voice of God in the passage rejects Hagar’s status of “wife” (iššā).
    • The “angel of the Lord” (mysteriously speaking with divine authority) refers to Hagar as “servant of Sarai” (v8)
    • Of course, this is an argument from silence, but it does demonstrate that God knows Hagar’s status and omits any affirmation of her as Abram’s wife.
  5. God commands Hagar to return to Sarai, not Abram.
    • The “angel of the Lord” commands Hagar to “return” and “submit” to Sarai, not Abram (v9).
    • This is more compelling, as it affirms Hagar’s relationship to Sarai as her proper abode, rather than Hagar’s recent polygamous marriage to Abram.
    • Properly, Hagar would have been under Abram’s provision as his wife, but this command provides compelling evidence that God did not approve of such a union.
  6. Genesis 16 is all about family dysfunction, not marital bliss among alternate models of marriage.
    • The capstone of Genesis 16 is the last 2 verses, which clearly articulate a disjuncture in familial progression (Genesis 16:15-16).
    • These lines might as well read, “Ishmael was Hagar’s son by Abram, but Ishmael was not Abram’s son of promise because he was borne out of a disobedient relationship.”
  7. The Bible simply never approves of polygamy.
    • The entire Old Testament records several instances of polygamy and the use of concubines, but it never speaks of such things in an affirmative light (Gen. 4:23-24; 26:34; 1 Sam. 13; 1 Kings 11:1-3).

Let us note with all honesty and humility that the Bible does address issues that sometimes make us uncomfortable. Surely, I would have been so happy to learn that the line of Biblical characters were righteous beacons among a dark world, but this is not the picture we get. The Bible tells an honest story of a believable human history, and the people we meet are just as rebellious and sin-ridden as the people we know today. But, this is exactly the point of the Bible!

The Bible is not a religious book that tells good people how to be better. It does not tell bad people how to be good. No! The Bible tells bad people how the gracious God averted His justice by pouring out His wrath on a substitute. The Bible tells broken people how their Creator God has the ability and the intention of making them new and whole and satisfied in Him. The Bible tells hopeless people how God intends to give them an eternal dwelling with Him forever, and His plan has been a long time coming.

Let me know if this article has been a help to you. May God bless the efforts and time invested here.

Marriage: Words Have Meaning… Don’t they?

Marriage was amended in America during the 1970s, and it has only become more adjustable over time. Same-sex “marriage” became legal in 2015, but it was during the 1970s that American states began passing laws that would allow for something called “no-fault divorce.” No-fault divorce is a phrase that refers to rejecting the lifelong covenant of marriage without cause. Essentially, two married individuals may decide to break their union for any reason or no particular reason at all. Not only was this a tragedy, it was also a serious redefinition of marriage. Mutual lifelong commitment is one necessary, essential, and fundamental aspect of marriage.

During the last few years Americans have been able to experience just how pliable the definition of marriage really is when it is cut away from its moorings. The word “marriage,” we are told, may now be defined so as to include relationships between two males or two females. It seems that the civil authorities in America might define “marriage” as a contractual relationship between two adults that may be created and dissolved at will, simply with the use of legal counsel. 

The question should be asked, however, “Does civil authority have the ability to define or redefine marriage?” Obviously, the answer to this question will depend heavily on the origins of marriage. Quite frankly, marriage was established as an institution far earlier than the American civil government and legal system. Even if one does not have a Christian worldview, the fact that the institution of marriage predates the America is beyond refutation. Therefore, it is plainly demonstrated that the American government is overreaching its own authority by attempting to redefine marriage.

Christians are not new arrivals to the worksite of defining terms appropriately. In fact, one might argue that Christianity itself rests upon understanding the proper definitions to terms like goodsinjustification, and faith. While Christians are certainly not capable of perfection in this mortal life, the Bible repeatedly commands Christians to live as humble usurpers of a seemingly pagan-dominated world (1 Peter 8:3-17; 2 Peter 3:11-13).

The pagan world may call anything “marriage,” but it is the Christian’s obligation and privilege to live according to God’s definition rather than another.

“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb 13:4).

Marriage: You Live What You Really Believe

While some Christians might be tempted to create a false divide between theology (perceived as sacred) and practice (perceived as secular or at least unrelated), that simply does not work. There is no such thing as a secular-sacred divide! Theology always affects practice. As a smart guy might say, “Orthodoxy produces orthopraxy,” which simply means that right belief will lead to right living. This is true of every area of life, and it is especially true in regards to marriage.

What a person really believes about marriage will always play out in their marital relationship. If a man really believes that he is only obligated to his wife as long as she stays in good physical shape, then he will eventually demonstrate this belief by leaving or looking elsewhere (adultery, pornography, etc.). If a woman really believes that she is only obligated to her husband as long as he provides an acceptable lifestyle, then she will eventually demonstrate this belief by looking elsewhere too. These are just two examples, but one could list many. The point is, what a person truly believes will affect how they live.

The Bible argues that marriage is instituted and regulated by God (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:3-12; 1 Cor. 7:1-16; Eph. 5:22-33). In fact, the Bible demands that all people everywhere honor God’s design and regulations for marriage (Heb. 13:4). This more than implies that Christians are not the only ones who are responsible before God to live according to a particular standard of belief about marriage. Furthermore, it is the Christian’s duty and privilege to live as an example of such right belief, no matter what is going on in the world around them. 

You live what you really believe, and the world around you is watching…

Keep your conduct among the [non-believers] honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).