Commenter RichardP makes an old argument, one that really should be picked apart because it encapsulates so much error. Rather than respond in-line in the comments I decided to turn this into a post. Recently he said:
Re. Therefore, what God has joined together ….
Will God ever join together an unbeliever with an unbeliever? A believer with an unbeliever? (Rhetorical)
The question for which the Bible gives no definitive answer is “What constitutes a union of which it can be said “What God has joined together … ?” .
If God does not join together a believer with an unbeliever, then sex with a virgin does not automatically create a union of which it can be said “What God has joined together … ” They would both have to be believers, and only God can see the heart. Society, not so much.
(If God DOES join together a believer with an unbeliever, then that opens a whole nother theological can of worms. Primarily because it would give theological backing to the command to “man up and marry that slut” meme.)
Society cannot abide uncertainty. Particularly around marriage (are they married or not) – due to laws regarding who gets to inherit what. So – society creates artificial boundaries where the Bible is not clear what those boundaries are (this is marriage, this is not). In an imperfect world, where there must be a clear demarcation upon which the division and inheritance of property can rest, society is compelled to create such boundaries, artificial as they may be. It makes sense that the church would follow along.
For – in spite of all you say AT, the Bible gives no clear demarcation of what creates a union of which God says “Therefore, what God has joined together …” Because we do not have the skiz to say for certain who is a believer and who is not. But the succession of property rights demands a clear answer.
It basically boils down to that.
RichardP asks a question that isn’t that difficult to answer, then claims it to be rhetorical as if it really doesn’t matter. The problem is that it is an excellent question that can easily be answered.
“Will God ever join together an unbeliever with an unbeliever”
For those who don’t know the Bible well, this is a great strawman argument and that’s what RichardP is trying to do, but for those who do know what the Bible says it’s the key to unraveling this knot of error. Let’s first make some observations.
The first commandment to mankind was be fruitful and multiply.
The first law was Genesis 2:24, the law of marriage.
The first judgment on mankind was Genesis 3:16.
All of these things occurred in the Garden of Eden with just Adam and Eve, the mother and father of all.
The first commandment applied to all of mankind, the law of marriage applied to all of mankind and the fact is that all snakes crawl on their bellies, all women bring forth their children in pain and all women are hypergamous and desire a man who is fit to rule them. To ask whether the believer can be joined to the unbeliever is to ask if Genesis 2:24 still means what it says.
One must ask whether God changed, or whether the law of marriage still applies as written. Either God changed or He didn’t. Either God lied or He didn’t. Either Genesis 2:24 means what it says or it doesn’t. Scripture helpfully answers these questions.
So, it follows that the answer to the question is yes, God will join together an unbeliever and a believer as one flesh if, according to the law of marriage, they marry. We know this because Scripture says “the two shall become one flesh.” Christ helpfully pointed out that God is the one who makes them one flesh in Matthew 19. Since God does not change and God does not lie, this must apply to all people of all times of all situations.
The command in 2nd Corinthians 6:14 that forbids the believer from marrying the unbeliever is necessary because they can be married. Genesis 2:24 states that when the man has sex with the virgin, God shall make the two become one flesh. Therefore it will happen, which is why the command was given. Otherwise it would be unnecessary.
The idea that some sort of “theological can of worms” is opened and some credence is given to the meme of “man up and marry the slut” is preposterous. RichardP might have read the relevant posts that I’ve written on the issue, but he clearly does not understand that the “slut” was married to the man she gave her virginity to and unless he’s dead or she’s a reader of my blog and has taken my advice, the “slut” is not actually a slut at all. She’s a married woman who has been committing adultery. It is not possible to marry a woman who is already married.
“The question for which the Bible gives no definitive answer is “What constitutes a union of which it can be said “What God has joined together … ?”
That is a lie. RichardP claims the Bible is not clear on what constitutes a marriage because it doesn’t define the spiritual act of becoming of one flesh. Richard, that’s what we call a non sequitur. It does not follow.
Sex with an eligible virgin is to marry her because that’s what the Bible says and this blog has carefully pointed that out repeatedly. Did the man and the eligible virgin engage in the act of marriage? Yes or no? If yes, they are married. If no, they are not. Her consent is not required and as we see in Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the rape of a virgin who is not betrothed, if they are discovered, results in her marriage to the man who raped her.
Interestingly Deuteronomy 22, which is the only passage in Scripture that discusses the crime of rape, only lists three categories of women. The eligible virgin, the betrothed virgin and the married woman. Not mentioned at all is the widow or divorce woman. Does this mean that God has no problem with the rape of widows and divorced women? No, it’s evidence that the issue is complex, because if for whatever reason the widow or divorced woman claimed that she agreed to be married to the guy who raped her, they’re married.
The word “irony” comes to mind. Some might think of “poetic justice” but the fact is, under the system God set up any man should think long and hard about the consequences of putting his penis in a woman’s vagina before doing it. Because it’s the act of marriage.
Numbers 30:9 clearly says the widow and the divorced woman (the two primary examples of women who are not virgins and not married) are held accountable for their agreements without the oversight and accountability of any man. 1st Corinthians 7:39 says the Christian woman who is not a virgin and not married is free to marry whom she wishes, but only in the Lord. As to the women who desire to marry, Paul says “let them marry.” From the context and in keeping with the rules already laid out, Paul is speaking of women who are not virgins and no longer under the authority of her father or another man. Clearly her consent to marry is required because she is not a virgin.
The Bible is very clear on what the physical standards for marriage are, which is to be expected because adultery is a death penalty offense. How can someone be put to death for adultery if one cannot define when a person is married? The apostle Paul stated that both the becoming one flesh in marriage as well as becoming part of the body of Christ was a great mystery. Yet, to follow RichardP’s logic, since becoming one body with Christ as part of the body of believers is a great mystery, we should institute arbitrary requirements for becoming a Christian. You know, because certainty.
The Bible is very clear what physical acts a person must perform in order to become a Christian, stating that the person who believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord shall be saved. We can hear the words and get an idea of what happened in the heart by seeing what kind of life they live. Witness the standard for how to tell if that person who claims to be a Christian actually is a Christian, found in 1st John, chapter two. The fact is, our lack of understanding as to how the spiritual joining of the believer into the body of Christ occurs in no way changes the very real physical requirements that the Bible provides for becoming a Christian. In the same way, our lack of understanding about how the spiritual joining of the two as one flesh in marriage occurs does not change the very real physical requirements that the Bible specifically lists for becoming married.
Did the man have sex with a virgin woman that he was eligible to marry? He is married to her if the answer is yes.
Did the man have sex with a non-virgin woman who was eligible to marry him, after she agreed to marry him? He is married to her if the answer is yes.
This standard is not difficult to understand, there is no uncertainty. God even helpfully provided women with a hymen. If one understands what the Bible says about marriage, it becomes apparent that the woman’s hymen serves multiple functions, all of which are related to the act of marriage and the marriage that occurs when the virgin has sex for the first time.
It’s also true that lots of bells and whistles can be added to this, with betrothal periods and agreements between the father and husband-to-be and ceremonies and celebrations and obnoxious mother-in-laws… but the basic requirements stay the same. If other requirements are added, then according to Numbers 30:2 the men are required to keep them, but they are voluntary. These sorts of agreements affect the eligibility of the woman to marry, they don’t change the standards of when and how the couple is married.
Hidden behind this ridiculous argument is the idea that some authority figure in the form of the church or the state is required in order for a marriage to be legitimate. Because of property? No, because of power and control. That is the argument the Easter Bunny made well over a thousand years ago and it keeps cropping up, but that isn’t part of the system that God designed. It isn’t that God’s design wasn’t clear on who is and who is not married, it’s evidence that the Easter Bunny rejected God’s design and instituted his own as a scheme to gain power and control.