We are coming to the summer months. Summer time is usually the time for many
weddings. Perhaps some of our readers have the joyful prospect of getting
married some time this summer. Or perhaps you are looking forward to the marriage
of one of your children or grandchildren or dear friends. We have decided
to use this issue of our monthly Reformed Witness to introduce two
excellent books on marriage.
There is hardly a more important personal decision in life than deciding
to get married. Few things will make as great of an impact on our life than
the person we marry. Marriage can be the source of immeasurable blessing for
God's people in this life. It sometimes also causes the greatest sorrow and
anguish because there is conflict in marriage and many marriages today end
We believe that good Christian marriages are not only a great blessing of
God to those who are in such marriages but also they are of great significance
to the welfare of the church of Jesus Christ. The Lord is pleased to continue
His church in the line of the generations of believers. God's covenant is
with believers and their children. It is exactly for this reason that, as
Christians, who we marry and how we live in marriage is of such great importance.
Good Christian marriages are the God-ordained sphere where the future generation
of the church is to be trained in the fear of the Lord.
In the world we witness the ever-escalating divorce rate. Recently I read
that now almost two thirds of marriages in the state of California end in
divorce. There is total disregard for God's holy ordinance of marriage. Man
lives in open and shameless fornication and adultery. He enters marriage as
though it is nothing more than a human and temporary arrangement. He breaks
his marriage vows as he wills. Who can tell all the misery and wretchedness
that follows the break-up of homes? Not only do men and women have their lives
painfully torn apart but also children of broken homes are left with deep
spiritual and psychological scars from the divorce of their fathers and mothers.
Marriage and the home are the foundations of society. Therefore when one marriage
after another breaks apart it creates havoc in society and in our nation.
The church is facing a great crisis in the area of marriage. We might
almost expect a great deal of marital break up in our ungodly world. We see
in this the depravity of the nature of man that grows worse and worse as time
goes on. The man who is a rebel against God will often not be able to live in
harmony with his or her partner in marriage. The many divorces in the world
are a sign of God's judgment on the wickedness of man. The church must preach
against the great evil of divorce in this world. That is part of her calling
to preach the whole counsel of God in the world.
The great tragedy however is that divorce and all sorts of corruptions of marriage
are almost as prevalent in the church today as they are in the world. This is
having devastating consequences for the church. In some of the more conservative
churches leaders are wringing their hands about what to do to stem the tide
of divorce. Others are just ignoring all of this and praising the members of
the church for how they live in spite of the fact that before God they are living
in gross immorality. In the more liberal churches divorce and remarriage are
accepted as inevitable. Adultery is no longer considered a sin, or at least
not a very serious sin. Everyone has the right, it is claimed, to live his private
live as he pleases. The church ought not to make any proclamations in this area.
Attempts are being made to "help" those who are divorced with the humanistic
psychology of this world. Such psychology is promoted as being truly sympathetic
and understanding. Meanwhile there is very little consideration of the teaching
of God's Word regarding marriage. Everywhere we see churches lowering God's
standards for marriage. All kinds of lifestyles destructive to marriage and
the Christian home are tolerated. Who would argue that this is the sad condition
of the church world today?
There is a crying need for strong biblical teaching regarding marriage. Though
literally thousands of books have been written on this subject in the last several
years, how very few of them truly present the teaching of God's Word. So many
of them are little more than warmed over humanistic psychology, all in the name
We are thankful for the two books on marriage written by Prof. David Engelsma.
The first of these has the title Marriage: The Mystery Of Christ And The
Church. This book is really the printed text of a series of sermons preached
by David Engelsma when he was pastor in the South Holland Protestant Reformed
Church in South Holland, Illinois. It is written with a pastor's heart. Each
chapter is based on a specific text from the Word of God, giving much sound
biblical advice for Christian marriage. The book begins with a chapter in which
the author declares the truth that marriage is essentially a picture of great
mystery of the relationship between Christ and His church as is taught in Ephesians
5. Chapter 2 emphasizes the tremendously significant truth that marriage
is a holy institution of God and what this implies for marriage. Each following
chapter deals with an aspect of marriage; including the role of each partner
in marriage, sex in marriage, children in marriage, and the truth that marriage
is a life long and unbreakable bond. Not only is this a very good book to be
read by those who are contemplating marriage; those who are already married
will also profit greatly by studying it.
Here is a quote from the beginning of the book:
"The rampant godlessness of our society is indicated by the frequency and
ease of divorce and remarriage. Our society makes a mockery of marriage and
its vows of fidelity. The State is in the process of removing all legal restraints.
We have come to take divorce for granted; it is almost as common as the marriage
that preceded it. Nevertheless, the corruption of marriage takes its toll.
A price is paid. This corrupting of marriage is the cause of fearful evils
that even society cannot ignore or minimize. There is the bitter misery of
soul that shatters those who have been unfaithful and that leads to drink,
drugs, nervous breakdowns, and even suicide. There is the presence of a lawless
breed of young people (with no race excluded), which seriously threaten the
very existence of the State itself. The foundation of the State is the home,
and the cornerstone of the home is the marriage relation of a man and his
The evils that corrupt marriage tend to infect the Church also. We are susceptible
to the mentality and practices of the world. The thermometer of the growing
coldness of the Church can well be the extent to which she permits marriage
to be defiled in her fellowship. For this reason, it is necessary that the
truth of marriage be preached in the congregation."
Prof. Engelsma has over the years been greatly burdened with the subject of
marriage and the calling of the church to preach God's word regarding it. Therefore
he published a second book on this subject, Better To Marry. This book
is essentially an exposition of I
Corinthians 7, one of the Bible's most crucial chapters about marriage.
The great strength of this book is that it is a simple, clear, and forceful
exposition of Scripture. One can argue with man's opinion on marriage. Many
of these opinions are just plan wrong. But one cannot argue with the plain,
authoritative teaching of the Word of God. The following is a quote from this
"There is a great need for a faithful witness in the churches of the West
to the biblical teaching on the related subjects of sex, marriage, divorce,
remarriage, and single life. Western civilization shows its fundamental paganism
by its unashamed promiscuity and perversity. A disciplined, holy life regarding
sex and marriage is not only crumbling in the churches, but also has in many
churches already completely broken down. The impure and disorderly lives of
the members meet with silence on the part of the churches' teaching office.
Or the churches defend and justify the sexual uncleanness and marital infidelity
of their members. Either the churches officially adopt reports that sanction
the sexual activity of the unmarried, the unbiblical divorcing and the remarrying
of the married, and the homosexual lust and conduct of married and unmarried;
or the churches preach a grace of God in Christ that approves all this wickedness
by tolerating it in the lives of professing Christians and in the fellowship
of the congregation.
None of this is due to any fault in the Scriptures. The Scriptures speak clearly,
sharply, and extensively on those aspects of the holy life of the believer
that consist of sexual purity and of the sanctity of marriage. One of the
outstanding passages is I
What do you think about marriage? What is your stance in the evil day in which
we live? Do you know the clear teaching of the Word of God and are you ready
to stand for it? Every member of the church of Jesus Christ ought to be concerned
about maintaining the teaching of the Word of God for this important area of
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