[This post continues a series of posts entitled 'A Biblical Catechism on Sex and Marriage'. The intention is to provide basic material for further instruction by a trusted teacher of God's Word in a church that is committed to Biblical authority. The Church’s mission is to invite all people to live under God’s righteous rule.]
Question 5. What is marriage?
Answer: Marriage is the permanent, ‘one flesh’ union of a male and a female.
Comment 1: Marriage is a ‘one flesh’ union that has to do with:
*Forming kinship: marriage is not a temporary union but the formation of a new, human
kinship (Genesis 2.24).
Genesis 2:20-25 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken." 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
*Permanence: as a union, it is intended to be permanent (Matthew 19.4-6).
Matthew 19:4-6 He answered, "Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' 5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
*Sexual act between a male and female: sexual intimacy is a ‘one flesh,’ physical act that
establishes a marital union (1 Corinthians 6.16).
1 Corinthians 6:16 Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, "The two shall be one flesh."
*Natural use of sexual organs (biological complementarity): marriage is a union only
between a male and a female (Romans 1.26-27).
Romans 1:26-27 (ESV) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations [literally, ‘use’—that is, of their genitals] for those that are contrary to nature [i.e., lesbian]; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations [literally, ‘use’] with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
*Procreation: the creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply is the primary purpose for
marriage and sex. Only the 'one flesh' union of a male and female can accomplish this.
Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."