A Requiem for Marriage

Frau auf Beerdigung mit SargWhile the world was celebrating the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling to legalize gay marriage, conservative Christian blogs everywhere were filled with obituaries. And while SCOTUS’ decision is yet another example of exchanging God’s glory for that of the world, it turns out this well-intentioned requiem is at least 5 decades postmortem.

In order to do a proper autopsy, we need to go back to the 1960’s when the signs of cancer should have been evident. No longer wishing to be married to a dying loser like Procreation, Intercourse hired the Sexual Revolution as her divorce attorney. Newly liberated from filial responsibility, Intercourse shacked up with Pleasure and became her willing mistress. Naturally, she changed her last name from the Fornication to Cohabitation and goes by the pleasant-sounding nickname, Sleeping With. Prostitution is following her lead and is in the process of changing her name to Sex Work.

But it was not this way from the beginning. Marriage is a God-given vocation, not an at-will arrangement that exists for the purpose of self-gratification. If it were, there would be no reason to insist upon the lifelong union of one man and one woman. If marriage is about “love” (in a generic, emotional sense), then marriage can be arbitrarily entered into by any consenting parties (assuming both have that capability) and should be ended the moment things start to get “real.” Now that serial polygamy has become the norm, one wonders how long it will be before the right to take a concubine in the United States becomes a matter of civil rights.

Isaac and Rebekah had no long period of courtship, but nevertheless made a lifetime commitment to one another before they’d even met (Genesis 24). Even more dramatically, Christ loved and gave Himself for a Bride who’d repeatedly rejected Him, despite all the unmerited love He’d shown Her. In Christ, we see that God-pleasing marriage isn’t about self-gratification and fickle emotion, as there’s nothing romantic about crucifixion. Rather, marriage is about the Father’s will (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 26:39; Acts 20:28), a Submissive Bride (Ephesians 5:22-24; Luke 1:38), and a Bridegroom who’s willing to die for a whore (Hosea 1:2; Philippians 2:8; Ephesians 5:25-32).

And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more… And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.‘ (Hosea 2:16-17, 19a, 23b)


Comments

A Requiem for Marriage — 8 Comments

  1. Marriage died when divorce became easy to get, and acceptable to Christian people. Divorced and remarried men may even continue as pastors, although there was a time when they had the decency to resign the ministry.

    “No fault” divorce means a spouse may leave without an excuse.

    These facts about the “heterosexual” marriages have been used to show that “one man-one woman” went out with the 50’s, (if not sooner) and so to justify SSM. Further, the argument for SSM has been that “partners” need equal rights in the divorce courts!

    The argument that homosexuals seldom remain “committed for life” is answered by “who are you to talk?”

  2. I wrote something similar to this about a year and a half ago. This is long, and for that I apologize. But it really expands upon what you have written here.

    ***

    Marriage, Sex, and Procreation

    Index:
    1. Separating Sex from Marriage
    2. Separating Sex from Procreation
    3. Separating Marriage from Procreation
    4. Separating Procreation from Marriage
    5. Separating Procreation from Sex
    6. What, then, is marriage, and who may marry?
    7. Separating Marriage from Sex?
    8. Does any of this really matter?
    9. Marriage, Sex, and Procreation

    God ordained the estate of holy matrimony to be the nigh-inseparable union of one man and one woman bound to each other here in time, a coming together to be broken only through death. He gave to this one couple of a bride and a bridegroom the gift of sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse, then, not only provides pleasure (both the opportunity to please another as well as the opportunity to be pleased by another) for the husband and wife, but it also serves as the natural course for procreation.

    As such, these three—marriage, sex, and procreation—naturally belong to one another. They are not intended to be three separate concepts or activities which exist utterly independent of each other. Rather, they are three components of the holy relationship of one man and one woman.

    In the last 60 to 80 years in the United States, however, there has been a systematic separation of marriage, sex, and procreation. Where these three had historically been viewed by society as belonging to one another, slowly but steadily they were each placed into isolation, very skillfully removed from the others. Once the first separation was made, the others followed suit, much like the toppling over of a chain of dominoes.

    Separating Sex from Marriage
    The first step in this deconstruction was to promote the idea of sex without marriage. Society once firmly clung to the belief that sex was reserved just for married couples. Women who became pregnant were shamed into hiding. Families went to great lengths to cover up out-of-wedlock pregnancies. There was no such thing as living together before being married. Colleges wouldn’t even allow men to proceed beyond the lobby of a female dorm (if they were even allowed that far).

    But the sexual revolution of the 1960s changed all of that. Free love. Free sex. If it feels good, do it. What consenting adults do to and with each other is between them, and there should be no shame in it.

    Sex was no longer just between husbands and wives. Sex was now between any man and any woman at any time and in any place. And if you couldn’t find a partner, you could go to the closest bookstore or magazine rack and pick up the latest Playboy or Hustler or whatever other pornographic magazine that might suit your interests.

    Now in the 2010s, it’s not uncommon to be sitting in a bar and hearing men and women alike boast of their sexual proclivities without even the tiniest inkling of shame or that this might somehow be something to be embarrassed about. (This actually happened to me a few months ago. I was waiting for a friend at an area tavern, and a young woman sitting at the table next to mine was quite loudly boasting to her two male companions about what things she expects her dates to do to her. She may not have been embarrassed, but I certainly was.)

    Separating Sex from Procreation
    The next step was the separation of sex from procreation. That is to say, sex would be freely available without the risk of a child being born as a result of the sex. With all of the free love going on, there were also a lot of unplanned and unexpected pregnancies. This needed to be stopped in order for the free love to continue. The broadest term for this idea is birth control, which is any action taken to prevent the birth of a child. This can be achieved through the use of contraception, which is anything that physically prevents conception, or through the use of elective abortion, which is the voluntary termination of a pregnancy inclusive of the act of killing the child.

    Once birth control became a social norm, sex was no longer about procreation. In fact, procreation was seen as a burden to the liberties of the woman. Society proclaimed that womanhood was achieved by women becoming just like men: high-powered CEOs, military commandos, professional athletes, etc. In order to achieve these things, she couldn’t be weighed down by a child. She must be free.

    But rather than controlling her sexual urges and taking responsibility or her actions, she was given the opportunity to greatly increase her control over what came out of her uterus. Once hormonal birth control methods were developed, the woman suddenly had three levels of “protection,” so to speak, to keep her from giving birth to a living child: a) she could use some sort of barrier method to prevent sperm and egg from ever meeting in the first place (e.g., a condom); b) she could use “the pill” to keep her body from either releasing an egg or permitting a zygote to attach to her uterine wall; c) she could choose to have an elective abortion, inclusive of the killing of the child inside of her.

    At last, woman could be truly free—even though she was freeing herself from that which uniquely identifies her as a woman, just so that she could be exactly like a man.

    Separating Marriage from Procreation
    With the advent of readily available birth control for the participants in the sexual revolution, husbands and wives started figuring out that if unmarried couples could behave like married couples, then married couples could behave like unmarried couples. That is, married couples could use birth control, too.

    Why should a married couple be burdened by too many mouths to feed—or really, any mouths to feed other than their own? If both husband and wife were free to work, then both incomes could be used to make their united lives better. Or if the number of children was simply limited to no more than three (provided they are properly spaced), then everyone could live a comfortable lifestyle.

    Sadly, this is when marriage lost one of its essential and primary purposes: the procreation of children. Husbands and wives once came together to build a family. Children were never planned. They were simply part of married life.

    But birth control changed all of that. Children now became part of a greater formula for individual success. Sometimes children fit into that formula. Oftentimes, they didn’t. Couples insisted on waiting until they were ready to start a family, only to learn too late that there is no such thing as “being ready.” Husbands and wives busied themselves with work, and children soon became nothing more than an afterthought.

    Separating Procreation from Marriage
    While it might seem that this is simply a repeat of the previous section, it’s actually quite different. In “Separating Marriage from Procreation” I discussed how married couples were forgoing procreation. Here I will discuss how those who wish to procreate are forgoing marriage.

    As previously stated, society has dictated that sex is no longer reserved just for married couples; and with birth control, procreation is no longer the intended outcome of sex. Because of this, married couples are no longer choosing to procreate.

    And yet, sex is a necessary function of natural procreation; and procreation is necessary for the survival of the species. As such, someone needs to step up and procreate.

    And who is that someone? That someone is the unmarried couple—or perhaps even the single woman—who has a desire for children without the now unnecessary social construct known as marriage. Biologically speaking, there is no need for a marriage license and a legally recognized solemnization for there to be a baby. So why should couples bother to get married?

    Removing sex from marriage and removing marriage from procreation left a void to be filled. And it is being filled rapidly by children without married parents caring for them.

    Separating Procreation from Sex
    In the same way that “Separating Marriage from Procreation” and “Separating Procreation from Marriage” were not the same, so also there is a difference between “Separating Sex from Procreation” and “Separating Procreation from Sex.” In the former I showed how sex could be achieved without the risk of bringing a living, breathing child into the world. Conversely, it is now possible to bring a living, breathing child into the world without sex.

    This, of course, is artificial insemination. Thanks to the marvels of modern science, a woman can now become pregnant without the burden of sex. And since marriage is not needed for procreation, she doesn’t even need to have a man in her life. She can go to the sperm bank, make a withdrawal (which is then deposited inside her womb), and nine months later carry a bouncing baby home with her from the hospital.

    Though this was intended to help infertile couples, it is used by anyone who is willing to cough up the money to pay for the procedure. Women can even adopt other previously frozen eggs and embryos, or use a surrogate womb for her own eggs. There are virtually no physical restrictions as to how this can be used to create human life apart from sex, especially since embryos can be tailor made from the genetic material of more than two donors.

    What, then, is marriage, and who may marry?
    I’d like to revisit and expand upon a concept that I laid out in my “Separating Procreation from Marriage” section.

    As previously stated, society has dictated that sex is no longer reserved just for married couples; and with birth control, procreation is no longer the intended outcome of sex. Because of this, married couples are no longer choosing to procreate.

    And yet, sex is a necessary function of natural procreation; and procreation is necessary for the survival of the species. As such, someone needs to step up and procreate.

    However, medical technology now permits us to procreate apart from the natural order of sexual intercourse.

    Because of all of this—because of this rampant separation of marriage, sex, and procreation coupled with medical “advances”—it is no longer necessary for marriage to be between one man and one woman.

    This is the logical outcome of dividing marriage, sex, and procreation. There used to be a biological necessity for marriage to be between one MAN and one WOMAN. Two men or two women cannot naturally produce a child. No matter what they do, two people of the same sex will never be able to procreate naturally.

    But now that anyone can have sex with whomever they want; now that anyone can have a baby apart from marriage; now that medical technology has removed sex from procreation, society has deemed it no longer necessary to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. It’s only a matter of time before the marital limits of just two people are broken down as well (as has already happened in isolated instances, apart from legal recognition). An argument could be made that Mormons already follow that, except that they still recognize that marriage is for the sake of sex and procreation. That’s why it’s always one man with multiple wives instead of one wife with multiple husbands or multiple husbands and multiple wives.

    Separating Marriage from Sex?
    You can separate sex from procreation and you can separate procreation from sex.

    You can separate marriage from procreation and you can separate procreation from marriage.

    You can separate sex from marriage. But can you separate marriage from sex?

    It would seem to reason that two people who choose to get married are going to choose to have sex with each other. That’s the social expectation.

    And yet, I know of an instance where marriage was used to help someone gain access to the country. It was a sexless marriage that was used for no other purpose than to circumvent immigration rules. I know names. I know locations. I know dates. I am not providing them because they really don’t matter, and I don’t want to bring shame upon their families. But they are real. It has happened.

    And it was permitted to happen—indeed, the idea was even conceived (strange that there were more ideas conceived about this marriage than children)—because marriage, sex, and procreation are no longer seen as one cohesive unit. They are seen as isolated concepts that have no bearing upon one another. (In fact, in the aforementioned “couple,” the “wife” was having sex with another man while her “husband” slept on the couch.)

    Does any of this really matter?
    Of course. I wouldn’t have written all of this if it didn’t.

    It matters because God has spoken on this. We are not free to change, disregard, and/or openly and wantonly violate His Word.

    And yet that’s what each one of these does. Removing one component from the equation is contrary to God’s will and design.

    I don’t expect to sway non-Christians by this. They simply don’t care and will think that I am a fool.

    But I didn’t write this for them. I wrote this for the Church, for Christians, for believers who want to remain faithful to the Word of God, but are somehow mislead or misinformed or simply ignorant about the truth. This is it right here. Marriage, Sex, and Procreation belong together because God put them together. When the three are taken as a whole it is a holy, precious, and good gift from Him.

    When any or all of the three are removed from each other, then the gift is cast aside. The idols of the heart seek to overthrow the one and only true God.

    And it’s not just that the three are intended to go together. The three are intended to go in order. Marriage first, sex second, procreation third. To change the order is to attempt to have one without the others. It is truly meet, right, and salutary to correct that where the order has been rearranged (such as getting married after sex has led to procreation), but it is better to keep the order intact.

    Marriage, Sex, and Procreation
    These matter to us because they matter to God. He gave them to us. Do not stop fighting for them. Do not give up on them. Cling to His gifts. The rest of the world might go astray. So be it. You remain faithful, and raise your children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord.

  3. Really good stuff Josh, thanks for sharing. Is’s a great companion piece for what I’ve written and really makes the argument, whereas I merely raised the question.

    Man, people are going to start thinking I’m ripping all of my posts off. One of the last things I wrote was basically something Weedon said in a book I didn’t know existed. Everything I said here was actually inspired by Genesis 24, which I came across in my morning devotion and began with the idea that love/romance/emotions aren’t the foundation of marriage. In fact, “How Love Killed Marriage” was a working title of this post at one point.

  4. @Pastor Eric Andersen #3

    “Man, people are going to start thinking I’m ripping all of my posts off.”

    No, it just shows your orthodoxy. Remember that throughout history it’s the “new ideas” that are generally heretical.

    The way I see it, God often uses pastors to say the same things in different ways.

  5. Wow,
    Two well thought out pieces on the destruction of OMOW Marriage. And I agree with the statement, that most “new ideas” are just old ones presented in a new way to be understood by a different generation.

  6. @Rev. Josh Osbun #2
    And how about adding – after the children are born, having someone else raise them, why be troubled to actually stay home and raise your own child… Children are a gift from our Heavenly Father.

  7. @Debbie #6

    Debbie, I did “raise my own children”.
    Fairly often, when I was a 24/7 Mom and “household engineer”, I got the, “But what do you DO?” question and was written off when I didn’t “DO” anything else in addition.

    But that isn’t reason enough for snark at the couples who arrange their lives differently, who want those ‘Gifts’ but also have competent day care to share the work, while they “DO” things.

    [Sometimes I think I’d have been a better Mom, if I had also had something else to do at least part time.]

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