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A Little Ocean Ambiance
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Doctrinal Writings
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Dr. Richard Flanders
Juniata Baptist Church
Vassar, Michigan
"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." (Ephesians 5:31)
Fifty years ago Americans had no clue that the very definition of marriage would be seriously questioned. Yet here we are in 2004, and the age-old, universal definition of marriage as between people of the opposite sex is being challenged in American courts, in city halls, in the media, and even in churches. The fact is that the movement to rob marriage of its meaning threatens to destroy the family as an institution, and send our society down a dark path no great nation has ever tried to travel before. However, this latest assault on marriage is definitely not the first attack on it in our country. It comes as the next step in a century-long trend to undercut the marital relation.

Back at the first part of the twentieth century, the opinion began to be voiced that children are more of a curse to a home than a blessing! They didnt use those words, but the dangers and horrors of large families were expounded and emphasized by the more "progressive" women of the feminist movement of those days. Widespread contraception was presented as the great health need of this nation. They saw overpopulation looming on the horizon as the forerunner of poverty, ignorance, and disease. This attitude arose in contrast to our thinking of the past. Americans of the previous century saw large families as a good thing. And the Bible views the question in the same way. To some degree, having children is the purpose of marriage.

In the Bible, husbands of barren wives prayed for God to open their wombs and give them children (Genesis 25:21, 30:1). Having children is always regarded as a blessing.

". . . the Almighty . . . shall bless thee with . . . blessings of the breasts, and of the womb . . ." Genesis 49:25).
"He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD." (Psalms 113:9)
"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." (Psalms 127:3)
". . . happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table." (Psalms 128:2-3)
The Book of Malachi says that God makes a man and a woman into "one" in marriage "that He might seek a godly seed [offspring]" (2:15). A major goal of marriage is children. Of course, God doesnt give children to every couple, and the partnership of husband and wife is designed to bless them both whether they become parents or not. But it is also true that when Americans began to think of marriage as better with fewer children, they rejected to some degree the very purpose of marriage.

In time our country increasingly denied the permanence of marriage. Jesus said,

"Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:9)
The divine plan was for a man and a woman to be joined by a legal commitment for life before they moved in together. In this way, the offspring produced by the relationship would be born into a stable situation. Although divorce has always occurred in this country, it was less and less discouraged as the twentieth century moved along. We all know about our rising divorce rate. The marriage covenant is about the least secure of any legal contract in any state. No reason, no fault, or no circumstance must be proven in court to obtain a divorce decree. As we denied the permanence of marriage, we undermined its foundation further.

When we passed through the 1960s, our nation increasingly denied the importance of marriage. To many couples, a marriage license was "just a piece of paper," without any serious significance. They moved in together and then moved out for any reason at all. Illegitimate births have grown in number year by year. Whether or not there has been a wedding means little in the question of whether couples cohabitate today.

One of the strangest aspects of the recent stir over the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses was the picture of homosexual couples crowding city hall demanding the right to be married, while hundreds of heterosexual couples lived together in the same city absolutely refusing to get married! The pronouncement of God in Genesis 2:24 calls for a life-long, legal commitment to institute a marriage. A marriage license is not "just a piece of paper." It is what makes a couple married! When our country began minimizing the importance of marriage, we were accelerating its demise.

So now we are debating the definition of marriage. We have come to this low point through a series of unfortunate steps taken by the culture over a hundred years. After denying the purpose, the permanence, and the importance of marriage, we are now questioning even what it is! If the trend is to be reversed and sanity restored to Americas collective mind, God-fearing people must undergird marriage in every way, as well as argue for its correct definition. Let us restore the Biblical importance, permanence, and purpose to our own marriages, as well as preach the whole truth about the home every chance we get! Happy homes built on solid marriages formed on sound principles are the only hope of our nations future happiness and survival.

Monthly Article
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
(517) 823-7848

Dr. Rick Flanders Biographical Data

Converted in 1963 through a radio ministry.
Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Bob Jones University.
Honorary D.D. from Pensacola Christian College.
Pastor at Juniata Baptist Church since 1973.
On BCPM Board, (Baptist Church Planting Ministry)
and also MACS. (Michigan Association of Christian School)

Articles published in the;
Sword of the Lord
Baptist Preacher,
Christian View of the News,
Pulpit Helps,
Maranatha Watchman
Church Bus News,
and other national periodicals.

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