By Bobby Witherington
Under the law of Moses, God spake unto Aaron saying, “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statue for ever throughout your generations” (Lev. 10:9). In the following verse the reason is given as to why those who served as priests were to abstain from wine and strong drink, it being: “that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean.”
Being able to distinguish between things “holy and unholy,” between the sacred and the profane, or between God’s commands and the unrestrained impulses of the flesh, was vitally important while Moses’ law was in effect. Careful preparation was necessary in order to worship and serve God acceptably. Those who functioned as priests needed a clear head. Consequently, wine and strong drink were forbidden.
Nadab and Abihu “offered strange fire before the Lord,” and it cost them their lives (Lev. 10:1, 2). They did not “put difference between holy and unholy.” In fact, many believe their failure to make the distinction between the sacred and the common was due to their not abstaining from wine and strong drink. At any rate, whatever the reason, their disregard for things sacred resulted in their father’s household being reduced by two, and it is recorded in that portion of scripture which was “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4). And one lesson we should learn from their mistake is the tragedy that befalls those who show disrespect for that which God has made holy.
Perhaps the most common application made of the principles which are set forth in Leviticus 10 has to do with the worship of God. Gospel preachers have repeatedly, and correctly, cited the example of Nadab and Abihu as an Old Testament example which illustrates the fact that God is a jealous God, and will accept no worship other than the kind which He has ordained. However, this principle applies in realms other than just that of scriptural worship. There are numerous things which God views as sacred, or “entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things” (The American College Dictionary, page 1067). Examples of such would include God’s name (Ex. 20:7), God’s word (Rev. 22:18,19) the Lord’s church (1 Tim. 3:15), and scriptural marriage (Matt. 19:6).
Of course, a strong conviction regarding the sacredness of the things just mentioned can only abide within the hearts of those who believe that God is and that the Bible is the word of God. When this faith is either supplanted or prevented due to the acceptance of the evolutionary hypothesis and the subsequent embracing of humanism or of atheism, then the almost vulgar “do your own thing” expression becomes the norm by which people pattern their lives. And one does not have to be very observant in order to realize that Satan’s lying propaganda in these matters is being heralded and accepted far more than are the sacred truths of God. Consequently, as we are forced to listen to the rantings and ravings, in consistent crescendo, of modern libertines, we find ourselves asking the question, “Is nothing sacred anymore?” And especially is this the case with reference to marriage, and everything connected therewith. To illustrate, we cite the words of feminist (?) Betty Friedan who has been called “the mother of the liberation movement.” In launching “stage 2” of her movement, she spoke disrespectfully of “the traditional family – mom at home, two kids, a bread-winning pop,” and stated that the family, though it is here to stay, “comes in diverse forms these days to keep up with social and technological change.” She and others of similar ilk envision these “diverse forms” of “family” life as including “families trying out marriage; families living under terms of renewable contract marriage; communes of adults with no children; . . . communes of adults with children; communes of older Americans of both sexes and single-sex communes” (Nov. 30, 1970 Independence, Missouri Examiner). In other words, with these ungodly feminists (?), whom many of our political leaders seem determined to subsidize, exonerate, placate, and accommodate, their concept of the family seems to be any relationship of humans in which “anything goes” – unless it is legitimate, decent, and respectable!
However, notwithstanding the contrary babblings of modern libertines, we affirm that whatever God has made sacred is sacred still, and is not made less so by the blasphemous denials so often heard in today’s society. And, as already stated, marriage, as God designed it, is sacred. But what is marriage?
Marriage is a union ordained by God. It was God who said, “it is not good that the man should be alone,” and it was God who made “an help meet” called “woman” for the man whom He created (Gen. 2:18-22). Marriage is a union of two people, one male and one female (Gen. 2:18-24). Marriage, as God designed it and as the Bible describes it, is not a union of homosexuals or of lesbians. Nor is it a commune of people of both sexes, or of one sex.
Marriage is a union of two people who were “free” to marry each other. Romans 7:3 is still applicable, it being: “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” Those who are “free” to marry include: (1) responsbile people who have never married and, (2) people who have been married, but whose mates are dead, and (3) those who have been married and, as innocent victims, put their mates away “for the cause of fornication” (Matt. 5:32; 19:9).
Marriage is a union of two people who formed such a union in accordance with the laws of the land. In all civil matters not inherently contradictory to God’s will, we must “be subject . . . unto the powers that be” (Rom. 13:1). Marriage is a union of two people, one male and one female, both of whom are free to marry, who have complied with the laws of the land, and which was consummated by their coming together in the.”one flesh” relationship (Gen. 2:24).
The fact that the union, as herein described, is sacred is suggested by the fact that it was God who ordained and designed marriage (Gen. 2:18-24) and it was God who “joined” the two together (Matt. 19:6). This is why God “hateth putting away” (Mal. 2:6), and why no person should dare put it “asunder.” Moreover, the sacredness of marriage is also suggested by the fact that inspiration used the husband-wife relationship to illustrate the relationship which exists between Christ and His church (Eph. 5:22-32).
More and more we hear it said that “the marriage question” will be the next big “issue” among brethren, and which will divide the people of God. In view of present conditions throughout the land, it would be foolish to question these dire predictions. But much of it could be avoided and averted if we could somehow educate people regarding what the Bible teaches concerning the sacredness of marriage, and motivate them to personally apply the biblical principles which were designed to regulate marriage. And, of course, those of us who are scripturally married should endeavor to make our marriage all that God intended that it be, and a worthy example for others to follow.
Guardian of Truth XXV: 3, pp. 37-38
January 15, 1981