Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013: The original version of this column failed to attribute a passage about how Jesus used marriage and family to teach about the kingdom of God to a Wikipedia entry on "Christian views on marriage" that was cited elsewhere in the column. It has been edited to correct this error. A version of this column appeared in the Oct. 17, 2011, print edition of the Deseret News on page C1 under the headline "Christian case for oneness in marriage."
Third of four articles
In the first article in this series, we talked about the general, secular case for marriage and made the statistical point that marriage seems to do a lot for people's happiness and sense of fulfillment and completeness.
In the second article, we tried to make the broadly religious or spiritual case for marriage. Throughout all of sacred writ in all religions, it is clear that God's plan and God's idea of a full life involve and, in fact, revolve around marriage.
Now we turn to the Christian case for marriage and make the claim that the "message of marriage" is even more pronounced in Christian scripture and doctrine.
Jesus called for man to "leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife" and said that "what God hath joined together, let no man tear asunder."
The Apostle Paul said, "Neither is the man without the woman neither the woman without the man in the Lord."
Some claim that Christ de-prioritized marriage and family by saying things such as "He that loveth father or mother (or son or daughter) more than me is not worthy of me."
The other interpretation of that (and our interpretation) is that Jesus was magnifying the importance and pre-eminence of family and of marriage by making it the ultimate comparison and essentially saying that the only thing on earth more important than family is a direct call from God himself.
According to a Wikipedia entry on Christian views of marriage, "Jesus used the image of marriage and the family to teach the basics about the kingdom of God. He inaugurated his ministry by blessing the wedding feast at Cana." Even Christ's reference to himself as a "bridegroom" suggests the emphasis and priority he placed on marriage.
"Then why did Christ not marry?" This is the question of some, but others, in surprising number, hold open the possibility that perhaps he did.
Among Christians who are not willing to accept this possibility, most would say that Christ may have exempted himself from marriage because his foreknowledge of his atoning sacrifice put the usual hopes and dreams of family outside the realm of possibility.
But the teachings of Christ and of his apostles leave little question about the powerful pre-eminence of marriage in a positive and fulfilling Christian life.
Paul said, "Marriage is honorable in all" and suggested that husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies.
Christianity through the ages has been the staunchest advocate, practitioner and defender of marriage on earth. According to Wikipedia, "Christians typically regard marriage as instituted and ordained by God for the lifelong relationship between one man as husband and one woman as wife."
Bottom line: The general case for marriage is strong, the religious case for marriage is stronger, and the Christian case for marriage is strongest. (That is until next week, when we will make the final eternal case for marriage.) In the meantime, send us your thoughts and feedback on what we have said so far by going to "comments" if you are reading by going to the "contact us" section of www.valuesparenting.com.
The Eyres' new book is "The Entitlement Trap: How to rescue your child with a new family system of choosing, earning and ownership" (see www.EntitlementTrap.com). Richard and Linda are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or www.valuesparenting.com.