Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.
—Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride, 1987
Marriage, and by extension the family, is the fundamental building block of society. “As the ultimate foundation of every civilization known to history, the family is the proven bulwark of liberty and the key to development, prosperity, and peace”.
Successful marriages and families are built on the ideal of Biblical self-government and in turn form the basis of a successful Church and Society.
Marriage was instituted by God and is therefore defined by Him. If, for instance, our government were to redefine marriage in its legislation, it would cease to be ‘marriage’ whether or not people continued to label it as such. Just because I call an apple a pear, doesn’t make it one. Marriage is not merely a human agreement between two consenting adults. Neither does a sexual relationship alone constitute a marriage. Feelings of love do not form the basis for marriage. Marriage is not achieved through some official recognition by the Church or by the State. Instead, marriage is the covenantal commitment between one man and one woman, for life.
Genesis 2:24 (ESV), “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Marriage is the covenantal commitment that is made when you leave your parents and cling to your spouse. This commitment is so comprehensive that all other earthly loyalties are permanently surpassed. It is this publicly declared covenant, committing yourselves to each other exclusively for life, that constitutes a marriage. Although the State, Church and community can all provide support, guidance and protection for marriage, they cannot compel nor prevent two people of the opposite gender covenanting themselves together in marriage.
In Genesis we discover that marriage is a God-ordained union of one man to one woman. It is based on God’s intent in creating mankind male and female, different and complementary. Marriage is based on the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman. Marriage safeguards the vital relationship of mother, father and child against fragmentation and all the brokenness that comes of it. Marriage is the only relationship that legitimately connects sex with love, and connects children to a mother and father.
The husband and wife working together in a mutually submissive partnership lead the family. Men and women, while not identical, are yet equal in their place of authority in the family. These complementary differences do not form the basis for any kind of hierarchical authority or order in marriage, no matter what your favourite author may say.
It is to the mother and father that the privilege and authority of raising and educating children is given. The Church community can help by providing resources and programs such as Sunday School and Youth Ministry, but these cannot take the place of your commitment to raising your children into godly adults. The State may assist in providing structures and support to help you in educating your children, but it must not be allowed to usurp your leadership role. Your choice of how you engage in educating your children is a God-given responsibility that cannot be left to someone else nor be taken away from you. You choose how to engage in the various options for education, whether it is within the public school system, private Christian education or homeschooling.
The family is vital to healthy churches and a healthy society. It is within the security that the family relationships provide that we are able to best pursue a life of freedom that seeks to bring all things into the light of the goodness of God.