A Divine Marriage

Every 13 seconds a divorce happens in America.

The time it takes for me to get to work, roughly 45 min, over 200 divorces will have taken place.

The most common reason for divorce is a lack of commitment.

50% of all marriages in America will end in divorce.

20 people per minute are abused by their spouses in America.

*Warning* My assumption of stats coming.

I surmise that at minimum, 10% of Americans are in an abusive marriage and at least 5% are in a marriage that is not a marriage at all, but a relationship that is more like college roommates.

That means almost 70% of all Americans have no idea what marriage is!

The use of marriage, as a metaphor for life and our relationship with God and each other, spans the entire bible.

Have I gotten your attention?

What am I getting at? How is this connected with Genesis? Before I get too far in. Let me define metaphor. Metaphor is the transfer of an image through the use of language because directly stating what a thing is takes away from its vividness. The word comes from the Greek word metapherein, which means to transfer. The statement, an image speaks a thousand words makes this even more clear.

When we look at the bible, we notice the use of metaphor all over the place. Its use is exactly why the bible has been around for so long because everything can essentially be seen as a metaphor. And no, this does not detract from its literal components, it just makes them more vivid. For example: is a dragon in the bible just a dragon? Is the sacrifice of Isaac just a representation of an archaic god? Is Moses just Moses? Is Eve just Eve? Is Mary just the mother of Jesus? Is Jesus just a Rabbi?

If you cannot see past the literal words on the page, then that shows the immaturity of your mind; and, this immaturity will hinder your ability to dig deeply into the word of God. Sorry to be so blunt, but the ability to see metaphor is fundamental to the bible.

Let’s take a look at marriage and the creation story in Genesis.

Since we are dealing with an ancient book that is Jewish to the core, we must first understand marriage, the best we can, from a Jewish perspective.

According to ancient Jewish law, marriage is in two parts. The first part is called “Kiddushin“, and the second part is the betrothal. Kiddushin, from what I understand, is the giving of something valuable to the bride to be. It could be any object of divine value, it could be something of monetary value, like a ring, or it could be some kind of document. In ancient times, the Kiddushin and the betrothal were separated by a period of time. It could be a day, a week, a month or a year. It all depended on the couple. The betrothal period ended with the couple uniting under a bridal canopy called a chuppah. The canopy is not simply a material object to protect the couple from the weather on the wedding day. Its a metaphor for the groom’s home and the bride’s new residence. On the wedding day, blessings are shared between the couple and the Rabbi. Wine is passed around and a huge celebration takes place for all who are present. Then to finalize the covenant the groom and bride consummate. The marriage is not complete without all of these components. As I surveyed all of the aspects of a Jewish marriage I was struck with the rich use of metaphor and the similarities to the creation story.

In Genesis, we see God create the heavens and the earth. Then we see God create humanity and give humanity dominion over essentially all of the earth. Then God rests on the seventh day and makes it holy. Next, we hear that God dwells with his creation.

If you are paying attention you may not even need me to explain the metaphor of marriage within the creation story, but I will do it anyway because it’s so very fascinating to me.

It takes God 6 days to create before he “rests.” If you pay close attention to the days, 1-6 ends with the familiar phrase of evening and morning. Man is created on the sixth day, which scholars have pointed out completes a nice package of 6 days and separates the seventh as “special.” To further “set apart” the seventh day, the familial pattern of evening and morning is dropped and in its place, God makes that day holy. A good question to ask is why the change of pattern? Why not use the same pattern of evening and morning for the seventh day?

Before we tackle the seventh day, let’s take a closer look at the previous six. Genesis makes clear that God gives dominion over all the land and animals to man. God also tells man to multiply and fill the earth. If you will recall what I said earlier about what happens during the Kiddushin period, you will see that something of value is given to the bride. I am pretty positive that dominion over the earth is of very high value. Not just that, man is also made in the image of God; that you could say is of “divine value.” Thus, we have part one of the marriage covenant. Next, we have a period of six days, in which, God creates the earth and everything in it. Remember that between the Kiddushin and the betrothal is a period of time. Well, we have a period of six days before the seventh day.

What do you think resting and making holy implies? I believe its a metaphorical way of saying Chuppah. Which fits perfectly within a marriage metaphor. I believe the story even implies that God resting on the seventh day is a metaphor for consummation. Just like a marriage doesn’t end after the wedding day in our time, you could even say its a beginning, I believe the seventh day was not suppose to end simply because the author does not use the pattern used in the previous six days. No evening and morning signifies a day. According to some Jewish scholars, they say that God created something on the seventh day, his Shekhinah (God’s presence). That is one way you could look at Chuppah, as the dwelling place of the groom and the bride.

Back to the facts I stated earlier about divorce. If roughly 70% of Americans are in a distorted version of marriage, it is safe for me to say the bible’s use of marriage has gone unnoticed, or misunderstood. This, I believe effects our understanding of the gospel. We are left with a God who simply died for my sins. That is woefully misrepresenting what story the bible is trying to tell, and you could even say its Anti-Christ. Genesis is full of allusions to marriage. Genesis is full of allusions to covenant. I’ve even heard that the book of Revelation is best understood as a metaphor for marriage. Wow! That means the bookends of the bible alludes to marriage!

Divorce is that elephant in the room. We do not want to talk about it, nor discuss its effects on society. Christianity essentially sweeps it under the rug. This is not right because the bible relies so heavily on marriage as a descriptor of Gods relationship with us. Don’t believe me? Where do children come from? How is one called a father? Did you know that Jesus is called the beloved son of God? All of these phrases are best understood within a marriage covenant.

The Barna Group does a lot of surveys, and one they did back in 2008 goes through different Christian groups and their divorce rate. It hovers around 30%. But what I found particularly interesting is what George Barna said at the bottom, “George Barna, who directed the study, noted that Americans have grown comfortable with divorce as a natural part of life.”

This is not the way, for God has spoken.

Works cited

“Divorce Statistics and Facts: What Affects Divorce Rates in the U.S.?” Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, LLP, https://www.wf-lawyers.com/divorce-statistics-and-facts/.

Gordis, Daniel. “Erusin: The First of the Two Ceremonies.” My Jewish Learning, https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/erusin-the-first-of-the-two-ceremonies/.

Lamm, Maurice. “The Bridal Canopy (Chuppah).” Judaism, 13 Feb. 2007, https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/476806/jewish/The-Bridal-Canopy-Chuppah.htm.

“NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.” The Nation’s Leading Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence, https://ncadv.org/statistics.

“New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released.” Barna Group, https://www.barna.com/research/new-marriage-and-divorce-statistics-released/.

Silberberg, Naftali. “Kiddushin — Betrothal.” Judaism, 14 Feb. 2007, https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/477321/jewish/Kiddushin-Betrothal.htm.

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