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Marriage: More Than Just a Piece of Paper

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled;
but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” 

(Hebrews 13:4)

“What’s the point in marriage?
It’s just a piece of paper, and a piece
of paper doesn’t define our love.”

That statement sums up how many people view marriage today. But would such people hold the same attitude toward the green paper they carry around in their wallets? Or the paper they received while walking accross the graduation stage? How many would run the deed to their house or the title for their car through a shredder? After all, it’s just paper, right? These examples expose the line “marriage is just a piece of paper” for what it really is, a pitiful excuse.

The problem sinners have with marriage isn’t the piece of paper at all; rather it’s the lifelong commitment that the marriage license represents. The marriage promise is a promise to give of oneself willingly and entirely to another person “for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, as long as we both shall live.” By avoiding marriage, a person leaves himself with an ever-present and convenient “out” of the relationship.

In the marriage promise, husband and wife proclaim that their bodies are no longer their own, that their whole body is now also for the service and use of their spouse, and only their spouse (1 Corinthians 7:4). Another problem many have with marriage is that it is a lifelong commitment to the same individual, which necessarily implies limits and boundaries for sexual activity. Of course, God has every right to instruct us how we ought to use the bodies He has created and redeemed by the blood of His Son, and also to set the limits for His gift of sexual pleasure as well (1 Corinthians 6:18-19). It is not surprising that such boundaries are derided and despised by many; they prefer to think of sexual intercourse as a recreational activity to be used whenever, however, and with whomever they please. But even as marriage is more than just a piece of paper, so too the sexual relationship is more than just a physical activity.

This special intimacy is God’s gift to the married couple. It is part of “becoming one flesh” with one’s spouse. It is used by God to strengthen the marriage bond between husband and wife: physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is God’s way of providing the blessing of children to parents and the blessing of father and mother to children. God’s Word is clear that to indulge in sexual relationships outside the confines of marriage is contrary to His will.

Contrary to man’s low view of marriage, God tells us that marriage is honorable. 

It is of God’s design and comes with God’s blessing. Marriage was God’s solution for the only thing that was “not good” in a perfect creation (Genesis 2:18). God protects marriage with the Sixth Commandment. Our Savior Jesus honored marriage by His presence and first miracle (John 2:1-11). And God uses marriage in Scripture to picture the relationship between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). The marriage commitment is a precious and honorable thing as it reflects Christ’s commitment to His bride, the Church, even to the point that “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) May the Holy Spirit enable us to hold with honor God’s blessed gift of marriage.

Chad Seybt is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming.