Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jesus and the Definition of Marriage

Everybody took their shot with Jesus, the Sadducees among them Wednesday of passion week had their best denier-of-the-resurrection question ready for Him.  It probably worked every time with the Pharisees, which had the wrong idea about the afterlife, despite believing in resurrection.  The Sadducees spun an absurd scenario based on actual Old Testament levirate law in which one woman married seven brothers.  They asked (Lev 20:33):  "In the resurrection whose wife of them is she?"

In the Matthew version (22:29), Jesus started with "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."  The Sadducees were different than the Pharisees in that they didn't depend on tradition for their beliefs, but on the Pentateuch, taking a Moses priority for all interpretation of the Old Testament.  Jesus is saying, "Moses debunks your speculation," which was based on their rejection of the supernatural ("the power of God"), the liberals that they were.  That worked nicely with the Pharisees, because the Pharisees thought people would be married in the afterlife.  However, it didn't work with Jesus.

With the above background, consider the next part of Jesus' answer, because in it, He lays out some detail in the definition of marriage that is helpful in today's discussion.  I watched a debate on same-sex marriage between Douglas Wilson and Andrew Sullivan.  Sullivan, who claims to be married to another male, claimed that Jesus had nothing to say about it.  That wasn't true, but it is especially false as we consider what Jesus said about marriage and procreation.  Jesus Himself said that marriage related directly to procreation.  The same-sex supporters say procreation is not a prospect of a marriage definition, because you've got some 'heterosexuals who can't or are past the point of having kids.'   Let's just listen to Jesus in the Luke edition of this story (20:34-36):

34 The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

First, what is Jesus saying?  One, people in this world of these temporal bodies marry (v. 34).  Two, those who make it to the world to come in those glorified bodies after the resurrection of the dead will not marry (v. 35).  Three, they won't marry because they won't die any more, being equal to the angels (v. 36).

You've got to look closely to follow all of Jesus' argument.  It's not hard, but you've got to do some thinking.  A surface understanding blew the Sadducees away, but this section also deals nicely with the reason for the definition of marriage, coming from Jesus.  Angels don't marry.  They were created all at once and none of them die.  Since none of them die, they don't need to procreate.  People in the world to come, who make it there (because they're saved), will not be married either because they won't die.   Get it?  Jesus explains that people marry because people die, so it is necessary to procreate.  People who die need to be replaced.  Procreation is what replaces them.  This is replenishing the earth.  This happens from a man and a woman only.

Second, how does this apply to the definition of marriage?  Angels don't marry because they cannot procreate.  Men don't marry men and women don't marry women because they can't procreate.  A fundamental part of marriage in general is that it must be between a man and a woman, because only they can replenish the earth.  Only a man and woman can procreate.  If people were like angels, they would not need to marry.  This is what Jesus is saying.  At a root level, marriage must be between man and a woman based upon a fundamental understanding of procreation.

Now remember, Jesus is the Creator (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-3).  We've been endowed by our Creator with certain inalieanable rights.  Do people have the right to marry?  Yes.  By definition of the Creator they do.  And our Creator said that procreation is one aspect of the definition of marriage.  Men and women, speaking of them in general, marry in part because mankind can only procreate with a man and a woman.  Procreation is Jesus endorsed, Jesus originated, legitimate, authoritative argument against same-sex marriage, based upon Luke 20:34-36.  Procreation eliminates same-sex marriage.


George Calvas said...


The implication of your teaching it in this manner is to then say this:

If Adam and Eve never sinned, then there would have been no need for procreation, since they would be sinless and live forever. They would be as the angels, the sons of God. Not sure why God would create a man and a women based on your teaching of Luke 20 if procreation was required because of death. It seems like a resonable understanding, until you consider Genesis 2 and 3.

Therefore, how do you reconcile a sinless Adam and Eve based on your teachings of Luke 20? Are you saying at the time they were sinless, they would have never procreated?

Kent Brandenburg said...


I've been on the road so I haven't had access so much, but I don't try to reconcile what the Bible says with hypotheticals. I take my doctrine from what it says, and it is in fact what Jesus said. I'm not deciding anything on something that didn't happen. I think you want to start with, "Did Jesus say that?" And "Is that what He is saying?" Jesus gives authority to the procreation argument. You should start with that as an argument, and block out what might have happened, could have happened, the what ifs. Just argue what is said, not what isn't.

George Calvas said...


For one thing, it is not "hypothetical", for the scripture saith:

Genesis 2:23 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.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

So, where did the idea of mother and father come from? Were they in sin or not? Since Genesis 2 is before Genesis 3, they were PERFECT, just like the angels and the Lord God set procreation as a pattern for those in the world, whether sinless or not.

Also, what you failed to see in Luke 20 and Matthew 22 is the part of:

(1)"worthy to obtain THAT world"
(2) "in the resurrection"

The only group that I know of that are from this world and have obtained that world in the resurrection, and who are not given in marriage since they are already "an espoused, chaste virgin" (2 Corinthians 11:2) is the body of Christ, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.

Therefore, you have not proven your procreation argument is only valid for the fallen race of Adam, so my questions are still quite valid.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for coming back. I wasn't trying to prove anything. I was just reporting what Jesus said. I do think we want to be sure it is what He said, because it doesn't work as an argument if He didn't.

Your quote from Genesis says nothing about living together forever in the garden and still having children. Those are not statements that are made in your own quote.

I don't know what you're talking about in your second and third paragraphs.

George Calvas said...


Of course you were reporting what Jesus said, but it was said by him with the condition of "knowing the scriptures", for it was that which he was accusing the religious elite from ignoring. Therefore, the Lords conclusions were based on knowing the OT scriptures!

Wherein, the quote from Genesis has always been understood as God's design of man and woman as procreative creatures when they were without sin. If not, then what is your understanding of Genesis 2:23-24?

The last paragraph explained what I believe is that group which:
(1) were accounted worthy to obtain that world
(2) were of the resurrection from the dead,
(3) neither marry, nor are given in marriage.

The group which Jesus is speaking about would be the born-again believers, the body of Christ, who is that "chaste virgin" espoused as his wife. That is why born-again, resurrected believers cannot marry or be given in marriage, for they are already married to Christ.

I hope that clarifies my understanding.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks again.

In the Matthew text, Jesus says they did not know scripture, and, you're right, it is more than just the quote from Exodus to which Jesus refers at the end. They didn't understand the resurrection, even as presented by the OT. In the first part, the understanding of non-procreative beings, like the angels, is the other scriptural idea. Angels don't procreate because there is no need to replenish, since they don't die. That's the point.

It doesn't relate to the verses to which you refer. The hypothetical is, if they had not sinned, would they have had children? When God told them to replenish the earth, He had the knowledge that they were in fact going to sin. He knew that. He had to know that in His foreknowledge and omniscient. For that reason, we can't make a conclusion about a fictional sinless man and woman reproducing eternal children on earth. As a matter of fact, we have to submit that idea to what Jesus did say in Luke 20. They were only going to replenish the earth as a sinful man and woman who would die.

Jesus talks about saved people, yes. He doesn't mention the body, the bride, or the church in Luke 20, but, yes, people who are saved will inhabit eternity with God, and in that resurrection, they will not reproduce. That's who he's talking about, but that point doesn't affect the procreation point I'm drawing attention to, one way or another.

You are arguing against a point that Jesus does make, and you are arguing with speculation or hypotheticals, as if Jesus Himself couldn't make that point because of the possibility of Adam and Eve having children who wouldn't die. They didn't have any kids until after the curse. And by doing so, you are helping out the same-sex marriage argument against procreation. You are giving them some fake ammo.