By Thomas Icard
Many questions have been asked, many tracts and books have been written about this subject. I am simply trying to present what the Bible says about it. I believe the scripture that Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for instruction which is in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:15-16.) Therefore, I believe all information that is necessary can be given with a “Thus saith the Lord.” I simply point to God’s word and ask you to believe that only. The trouble with the religious world today is simply this: People do not accept God’s word as absolute authority but mix into it their ideas and human creeds. I do not intend to base my convictions on the opinions of people I love and respect.
Let us remember to study God’s word and accept it as it is, not adding or subtracting from it. We can see God’s attitude in Revelation twenty-two and verses eighteen and nineteen. My main concern is what God will think of me in the judgment. My friends will have not the power to put me in or take me from heaven. I must answer to God in that day. Therefore, what he has said is my source of authority. I know that God has given us all the information He wills for us to have on any religious subject. It is good to study about the Bible but better to study the Bible. In I Cor. 13 we find that Paul says of the New Testament “When that which is perfect is come that which is in part will be done away.” Something that is perfect is not lacking in any of its parts. If we believe this, we will accept the scriptures as all sufficient for everything we teach or believe in religion. We find that l’eter tells us in I Peter 3:15, 16, “but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with MEEKNESS and FEAR: having a GOOD CONSCIENCE . . .” The Bible is the book that will give US the answers. We will have these answers if we “Give diligence (study) to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.” Let us do this just now as we gather together all the information and look at the subject of marriage as God has given it to us to study.
Many are teaching today that sexual intercourse is what makes marriage in God’s eyes today. If a man has sexual intercourse with a woman before a marriage ceremony has been performed, then he is married in God’s eye no matter how people look upon it. Let us see if this is true. If so, what would be fornication? The Bible recognizes a difference in fornication and adultery. In I Corinthians 6:9 both words are used to tell the Corinthians that such shall not inherit the kingdom of God. We see then God recognizes a difference in the two.
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
1. Adultery: Voluntary sexual intercourse by a married man with another than his wife or by a married woman with another than her husband. (Page 13.)
2. Fornication: Elicit sexual intercourse on the part of an unmarried person. (Page 326.)If sexual intercourse made marriage, then there would be no such thing as fornication because the ones committing the act would become married in God’s eye. Then the next time he committed the act with someone else it would be adultery. If this were the case, the apostle Paul was wrong in using both words in I Cor. 6:9. Again let us hear what Paul says. Heb. 13:4: “Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for FORNICATORS and ADULTERI RS God will judge.” A fornicator is not married. Yet to be a fornicator one has to have had sexual intercourse. Someone says, “Oh, but love has to be involved.” I ask for the book, chapter, and verse. I can give book, chapter, and verse to show this is not true. (II Samuel 13: 15.) When Amnon forced his sister Tamar: “Then Amnon hated her with exceeding great hatred, for the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the LOVE wherewith he had LOVED her.” Would anyone claim that Tamar was Amnon’s wife? Certainly love existed betwetn these two. A love for the person and fleshly love on Amnon’s part. Again we see the Bible clearly expounding upon the subject. “And if a man entice a virgin that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to BE his WIFE. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.” (Ex. 22:16, 17.) When does she become his wife? After he pays the dowry. Again, if her father refuses, she is not his wife. Does this look as if intercourse makes marriage? Deut. 22:28, 29 also give this same law.
Now let us examine the passage of scripture that those holding this conviction use to prove their opinion (I Cor. 6: 16): “Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? For, the twain, saith he, shall become one flesh.” Let us leave this passage of scripture in its context. The apostle is explaining that we cannot remain faithful to Christ and live worldly. It is God’s intended purpose that each man have only one wife. (Matt. 19:4-9, Rom. 7:2-4; I Cor. 7:2.) It is God’s intended purpose that we remain faithful to Christ and him alone. If we serve and subject ourselves to the worldly pleasures, we are not one flesh with Christ but the fornicator or adulterer with the world. I do not believe the scriptures contradict each other and to take this passage to prove that it is authority for the opinion that intercourse makes marriage is to misuse the divine word of truth. How can we do this and honestly condemn the denominational world for doing the same thing with another scripture such as John 3:16?
We can see that God places no difference in the sins of fornication and adultery above or below any other sin. “Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revelers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. Of such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11.)
But of Gen. 24:67 someone says, “Doesn’t this look as if the intercourse was all that took place here to make marriage between Isaac and Rebekah ? ” Let us recognize the circumstances involved here. Were there any civil laws binding on Isaac and Rebekah at the period of time they were living? No. After the giving of the Law of Moses, there were certain laws given. Today we have civil laws given concerning marriage. God expects his people to obey the civil laws. (Rom. 13.) If we had no law of marriage in our country, then we could practice and follow the example of Isaac and Rebekah; but we do have laws of marriage and God commands that these laws (civil laws) be obeyed unless they conflict with His law. Marriage in the eyes of God takes place when both civil as well as religious law be obeyed. Anyone who engages in sexual intercourse today without a legal marriage license is either a fornicator or/and adulterer depending on whether he is legally married or not. He has violated God’s divine plan. (I Cor. 7:2; Rom. 13.) Anyone that violates God’s law is to be rebuked. Titus 2:15 gives me authority to rebuke or reprove. “These things speak and exhort and REPROVE with all AUTHORITY. Let no man despise thee.” If I have something against my brother, the Lord exhorts me to go to that brother. (Matt. 5:23.) In Matt 18:15-17: “And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he hears thee not, take with thee one or two or more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. And if he refuse to hear them, tell it to the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him, be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican.”
Truth Magazine VI, 12, pp. 22-23