Mankind began with the creation of Adam on the sixth creation day. “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (spiritually).’ And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” (Genesis 2:15-18)
“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24)God thus established His norm for the basic building block of human society, the family. A man (the bridegroom) and a woman (the bride) are joined by marriage into one flesh, the nucleus of the family. This provides:
- The means for producing children;
- The proper environment for the maturation of the children.
Alas, Adam and Eve, tempted by Satan through the instrument of the serpent, ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They immediately died spiritually, hid from God, were ashamed of their nakedness, and tried to remedy it by their own efforts by sewing fig leaves together as tunics.God wasn’t impressed, and proceeded to judge tempter and tempted:
- Satan would be feared and hated (when he wanted worship), and would be eventually judged by the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ) and thrown into the lake of fire forever;
- Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden;
- Adam and Eve were altered genetically to have a fallen nature (called sin nature or flesh in the New Testament);
- Women would suffer pain in childbirth;
- Men would have to earn their living by the “sweat of their brows,” i.e. hard work;
- But in His mercy God forgave their sins, as evidenced by providing them tunics of skins (requiring the shedding of the blood of the animals—a type of Jesus shedding His blood on the cross).
Between Adam and Eve and the tenth generation (Noah after having Ham, Shem and Japheth at 500 years of age), 1556 years had passed. During that time only Seth, Enoch and Noah were mentioned as righteous before God.
The condition of the earth when Noah was 500 years old is described in Genesis 6:5-7, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
Then Noah, and his sons as they grew up, spent 120 years building the ark and preaching righteousness to his neighbors. Not one person outside Noah’s family responded to his warnings, and when the flood came, only Noah, his wife, his sons Ham, Shem and Japheth and their wives, were saved through the flood. Everyone else died. So God began populating the earth again from scratch, with eight people, four married couples. There were no written rules from God, only Noah’s recollections plus person-to-person revelations from God.
Somewhere between 258 and 1258 years later (depending on assumptions)Abraham came to Canaan in obedience to God’s command. Genesis 12:10-15 “Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, ‘Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they . . . will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you. So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house.”
Genesis 12:17-19), “But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say that she was your sister? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.”
Though he was a king, and could do pretty well what he wanted, Pharaoh’s words show that he recognized that the marriage bond was sacred and inviolable. Think of it! This powerful heathen king recognized that he and his house were being plagued because he had taken Sarai away from her husband Abram. All because of verbal tradition that harked back to Noah.
Another pertinent experience occurred later. Genesis 20:1-12, And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister?’ And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.’ So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid. And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, ‘What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done. Then Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?’ And Abraham said, ‘Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.’”
Another heathen king, recognizing the marriage bond to be sacred and inviolable through the verbal tradition harking back to Noah!
Isaac had a similar experience to Abraham’s at Gerar, except that the Abimelech Isaac dealt with was the son of the Abimelech Abraham dealt with (Abimelech was the title of the kings of the Philistines, as Pharoah was the title of the kings of Egypt).
Genesis 26:1-11, There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister;” for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.”
Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to (embracing) Rebekah his wife. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, ‘She is my sister?’” And Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her.’” And Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
Another heathen king, recognizing the marriage bond to be sacred and inviolable through the verbal tradition harking back to Noah! This about 1966 B.C.
It would be about 566 years before God’s laws began to be written down by Moses (Exodus, containing the Ten Commandments, about 1400 B.C.). The Old Testament would be completed about 950 years later with the writing of Malachi, about 450 B.C. So now, in 2016, its complete teachings have been available for 2466 years.
The New Testament books were written between A.D. 50 and 95, its teachings repeating and expanding upon those of the Old Testament. The New Testament canon was established at the Council of Carthage in 397 A.D. So, the Church has had the complete, officially recognized New Testament for 1619 years.
So, how long did people in general, and God’s people in particular, continue to regard marriage as sacred and inviolable? For a long time—till after the civil war. Then began major events which caused in the western world a rapid decline in morality. Some of those major events were:
- The rise in Modern Science (seeking to explain things scientifically rather than by divine revelation in the Bible);
- The publishing of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin Of The Species” (which gave the secular world evolution as a substitute for God;
- The Industrial Revolution (giving rise to materialism and covetousness);
- World War I followed by the “Roaring Twenties,” prohibition and the rise of organized crime;
- World War II and the Korean war followed by fear of nuclear destruction, the Cold War, and the hippie movement;
- The Viet Nam War and the anti-war revolt;
- The Feminist movement/Abortion;
- The plague of substance abuse;
- Desert Storm war to free Kuwait;
- Islamic terrorism, 9/11, the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War;
- The catastrophic backsliding of the Church.
The sacredness and inviolability of marriage we observed even among the heathen kings as we were discussing THEN, are sadly lacking today. Oh, there are minorities here and there which still hold to the Biblical positions, but they are getting harder and harder to find. In the USA:
- The number of couples (one male plus one female) living together who are not married is approaching the number that are married. Cohabiting before marriage is called fornication in the New Testament. If a married person has any sexual activity with someone other than his/her spouse it is called adultery in both the Old and New Testaments. The children of unmarried parents are called illegitimate. As late as the first quarter of the twentieth century, birth certificates had a question on them: Legitimate? Yes ___ No___ Hard to imagine;
- The number of single mothers, whether never married or divorced, is incredible and growing rapidly;
- The acceptance of divorce for just any reason is widespread, despite the terrible effect it has on children;
- In 1973 the US Supreme Court legalized abortion, as a result of which the number of abortions performed is approaching 60 million;
- Homosexuality has gained acceptance to the point where our Supreme Court recognizes homosexual marriage;
- Alas! Alas! HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN!
How we Christians need to regard marriage as sacred and inviolable, teach our children and grandchildren to do so, and pray for the whole Church and the world to do so!