Thursday, July 5, 2007

Marriage from the Beginning

Here's a portion of a handout I used last week in my adult SS class on marriage. We're working our way through the Bible in order to establish a biblical foundation before we get to practical issues. Next week we will deal with Genesis 3. The first half dozen points are sketchy because they were covered the week before. The last point is taken mostly from Jim Jordan's excellent essays on Liturgical Man, Liturgical Women and will serve as a bridge to the the first couple's failure in Genesis 3.

What can we learn about Marriage from Genesis 2?

1. God instituted marriage; it is not a human cultural artifact.

2. God ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman.

3. Marriage is a covenant

• Man torn in two (as covenants are always made)
• Malachi 2:14-16

4. God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman.

• Bigamy and polygamy are violations of God's intention for marriage.
• Genesis 4:19 (Lamech)
• The Patriarchal sin of concubinage (Gen. 16, 29, etc.).
• Lev. 18:18 forbids polygamy.

5. God instituted marriage for companionship

• Gen. 2:18, "it is not good that the man should be alone"
• Malachi 2:14

6. Marriage creates a new household.

"leave father and mother," Gen. 2:24).
"one flesh" refers not just to sex but to "one new corporate person"

7. The married couple is called to fulfill the "cultural mandate" (Gen. 1:26-28; Gen. 2:15) together.

8. The woman is the glory-form of humanity (Gen. 2:23; 1 Cor. 10:7-9).

• Eph. 5:27; Rev. 21:1-4

9. The woman is called to be finisher.

• Gen. 2:18, 20
• Jesus & the Church - Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 1, etc.

10. Although men and women are equals, they are nonetheless different in a ways that are profoundly, even mysteriously fitting.

11. The difference/separation between men and women gives rise to poetry
(Gen. 2:23).

• Song of Songs

12. Sexual intimacy and pleasure is intended for married couples.

• Outside of marriage sex is not good but "fornication" (KJV) or "sexual
immorality" and "adultery."
• Gen. 20:30; 34:1ff.; 39:9;
• 1 Cor. 5:1; 6:13, 18; 7:2;

13. In marriage there should be no barriers between a man and a woman; they should be fully open to one another (Gen. 2:25).

• What about clothing?
• Clothing and Glory, Clothing and Shame
• Exod. 28:2 (Luke 12:28)
• Clothed for war and office - Gen. 41:42, 1 Sam. 17:38, Luke 24:29

14. Divorce was not envisioned or needed in the pre-fall situation.

• "one flesh" - Gen. 2:24
• "from the beginning it was not so" - Matt. 19:8; Jer. 3:8; Mal. 2:16;
Matt. 5:32

15. Since men are the one’s so prone to forget this, they have a special mandate in Scripture: Men are to think and behave first as brothers to women, especially in Christian marriages.

• Song of Songs 4:9-12, 5:1
• 1 Cor. 9:6, "a sister wife [aÓdelfh\n gunai√ka]"
• "weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7; 1 Cor. 12:22)

16. Adam was called to be the liturgical leader, and Eve to respond to Adam's leadership and instruction.

• Paul finds meaning in the order of their creation - 1 Tim. 2:12-13
• Adam's priestly duty - "guard and serve the garden" (Gen. 2:15)
• He receives his instruction from Yahweh before the woman is made.
• Gen. 3:17
• We see prophetesses like Miriam (Ex. 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4-5), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14ff.), and Anna (Luke 2:36); and various “wise women”; as well as women leaders of the nation (Deborah, and Miriam, Micah 6:4). But we never see women as priests. We see women as deaconesses at the Tabernacle (Ex. 38:8; Jud. 11:40; 1 Sam. 2:22), and perhaps women among the Levite singers (1 Chron. 25:5-6, where v. 6 almost certainly refers only to the children of Heman; compare v. 2, v. 3, and vv. 4-6a). But we never see women as priests.
• The priests were males only, and they alone entered the new form of the Garden sanctuary, Tabernacle and Temple. They alone supervised the sacramental meals of those sanctuaries. They were the primary teachers in Israel as “angels of Yahweh of hosts” (Mal. 2:7). This reservation of the primarily liturgical office, teaching and sacrament, to men is precisely in line with Genesis 2-3.


Andrew Fulford said...

I have a question about point 9 and its relation to 16.

As someone who often sympathizes with complementarians, I can see the biblical support for the idea that only men are to be teaching elders. At the same time, modern complementarians (as opposed to ancient ones) want to affirm the equality in being of women and men.

I recently read Rebecca Groothuis' book Good News for Women, in which she argued that it makes no sense for complementarians to argue that women are equal in being but subordinate in function, because (her argument goes) for complementarians that subordination in function is determined by women being women (their being).

My thought was this: perhaps complementarians could still maintain that men and women are equal in being, so long as there is something only women can do that men can't (as only men can be teaching-elders).

The only complementarian I've seen who has suggested something along those lines is Jordan, with his point about woman being the glory-form of man, and the finisher. My question is this: corresponding to her nature as finisher, is there anything that only woman is fit to do, that man should not do, correlative to the thing only men can do, and women not?

Thanks, and thanks for blogging!

(BTW, if you are concerned about anonymity with me, I'm a 22 year old theology student, part of the Presbyterian Church of Canada.)

Daniel Stoddart said...

"God ordained marriage for the procreation of the human race" didn't make the cut?

I'm puzzled.

Daniel Stoddart said...

You wrote:

"Next week we will deal with Genesis 3."

I missed that line the first time through. All apologies!

Jeff Meyers said...

Yeah, sorry, but I didn't post the previous week's outline for what we learn about marriage in Genesis one.

Trey said...

Would you be willing to email those handouts that you have (and will have)? Looks like great stuff to use to teach on marriage.

If so, please do send them to me. My email:

Trey said...

BTW, to Andrew F:

There is one particular thing that only a woman can do: bear children. I have always said that the only way egalitarians would be correct is if man and woman could both do everything that the other can do. Since bearing children until they are fully formed is and always will be a function distinct to women and women alone, there will never be anything that even approximates true egalitarianism.