A popular infographic claims to present interesting, even shocking, information about “biblical marriage”. This biblical marriage infographic is unhelpful.
I’ve seen several people, including Rowland Crowcher, post this “infographic” on Facebook. Since I’ve spoken quite a bit on “Family in the Bible”, and am due to speak to a leaders group from the NZ Christian Network on the “Theology of Marriage” really soon it makes me hopping mad!
In one sense the graphic is “true”. The Bible does present all these, and more (some arguably worse) patterns of marriage. It is also true that God chose to work in and through many of these. Just looking at Abraham (the “father” of the three monotheistic religions) or Jacob (aka “Israel”) makes it clear that God does not turn aside from some convoluted and perverse human arrangements in choosing who to use as a channel of grace.
But, do any of these represent “a biblical view of marriage”. Hell no! It is time for some stakes in the ground. In terms of the teaching of Scripture it is clear that Gen 2 is a privileged text (Jesus and Paul both cite it when discussing marriage). This passage, and the teaching of Jesus and Paul make some basics clear:
- was ordained by God
- is the union of a man and a woman
- produces and nurtures the next generation
- provides necessary partnership
However, in this (as in everything else) human sinfulness warps and twists God’s intent. All of the “biblical” marriages listed in the graphic reflect this.
See some of my earlier posts for background to this one:
- What is a family?
- Does the Bible present a preferred pattern of family
- Reading the Bible: seeking teaching on family
I am aware that some people will understand what I have written in the very short and angry post as endorsing particular views on the currently hot and vexed topic of “Gay marriages”. It does. Gay marriage is perhaps an oxymoron if marriage the partnership of a man and a woman, and is intended to produce as well as nurture the next generation. However, the view endorsed above says nothing about either Civil Unions, or about the possibility of blessing (or even solemnising) them in churches. As far as I am concerned that seem to be separate issues, and ones on which my view of marriage does not entail any particular position. I wish that we (Christians of all stripes, marriage activists of every opinion, and especially the authorities of both states and churches) would just sit back and separate the two things and issues.