Natural Law & Marriage

A friend who is concerned about restoring families recently asked me about the connection between marriage and natural law. His question began with the nature of marriage as between a man and a woman, but then got more specific. “What would you say is the reason why marriages of multiple women to one man (or vice versa) are NOT covered under the rubric of natural law?” He was anticipating questions from an inquiring audience of thinking people of faith. The answer brings together a host of concerns for marriage as the basis for family restoration.

When Jesus was answering the Pharisees about divorce He reminded them that “it was not that way at the beginning,” (Matthew 19) referring to creation of one man and one woman who “For this reason a man would leave his father and his mother and the two would become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24) This oneness concept is by design, and is for a lifetime.

The natural law reflects this ontological concept. Natural law prohibitions against adultery simultaneously imply an affirmation of marriage, and the general norms that are most needed for the functioning of the institution of family. More than one partner becomes adultery, even if all the parties consent. Those same natural law prohibitions plainly dispel multiple marriage partners.

(Finally, I generally add that wherever polygamy appears in the Bible, it always works to the detriment of those who practice it - if not immediately, certainly eventually. E.g. David’s many wives and rebellious children, Solomon’s lack of family headship over his 700 wives and 300 concubines, and the eventual demise of the Kingdom; even Abraham with Hagar – ill effects result from multiple marriage partners. Reality plays out to reflect the veritable principles of natural law.)

Whether it is polygamy, adultery, divorce, or something I’ve affectionately (?) termed serial monogamy (marriage and divorce in a repeated cycle), multiple marriage partners work to the detriment of the original (perfect) design, and fly in the face of natural law. Marriage in the natural law rubric is between one man and one woman for a lifetime partnership. Multiple marriage partners work to the detriment of the individual, to the detriment of the family, to the detriment of the community, and to the detriment of society as a whole.

These are issues on the horizon, or those that keep lurking in the shadows. (The next cutting edge is becoming the justification of child sexual freedom to satisfy adult desire.) Our culture is entering an era of acceptance of limitless sexuality. Without limits, people perish (Proverbs). Natural law truth is revealed in practice.

1 comment:

  1. I believe strongly in the sacredness of marriage and in God’s power of restoration for broken families. I believe that God is the ultimate healer and that he has a passion for reconciling marriages that have been broken for any reason, including adultery.

    In Matthew 5:32 Jesus says, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” While there are conflicting interpretations to this verse, I believe that God permits divorce in the case of adultery, but that it is not his perfect will. The commentary to the 2005 NIV Life Application Bible explains that the “word translated ‘unfaithfulness’ implies a sexually immoral lifestyle, not a confessed and repented act of adultery.”

    Is anything too big for God? No. I fully believe that God wants to restore marriages that are broken due to adultery. When adultery occurs in a relationship, God’s children are called to forgive and reconcile the marriage.

    Remember, God told Hosea to take Gomer as his wife; God also told Hosea that Gomer would be unfaithful to him. After Gomer’s unfaithfulness and desertion of her marriage to Hosea, Hosea sought out Gomer and reconciled his marriage with her. Hosea had to pay a price for Gomer; she likely had sold herself into slavery or was the mistress of another man. Gomer had very little worth to anybody but Hosea. God used Hosea and Gomer’s reconciliation to be a testament of his love for Israel. And what a love! When we are at rock bottom and feel that nobody wants us, God wants us! Perhaps God is using your difficult situation to teach you love, compassion, and to create a testimony of His restoration!

    Remember King David? He was a murderer and an adulterer but look at what good that came out of his life! He was also a “man after God’s own heart,” the author of the Psalms, courageous in battle, and he also killed Goliath. While the sin of adultery has terrible consequences that cannot be escaped, God is a forgiving father who washes our sins away when we repent. Our sins do not define us. They have been washed clean by the blood of Christ.

    God promises to restore what the enemy has stolen from us. God even promises to pay us back double! “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours” (Isaiah 61:7).

    What if one of the spouses is unwilling to reconcile? Trust God and PRAY, for “marriage is a battleground” and “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).