The Historical & Christian Roots of Marriage
by David J. Theroux, The Imaginative Conservative:
Marriage is a universal institution of civilization. We find no human society in which marriage has not existed in some form, and virtually all marriage ceremonies historically have involved religious elements. Yet for many years now, natural (“traditional”) marriage and the family have become the subjects of secular ridicule, with the family increasingly politicized and socialized by “progressive” government bureaucracies. As Charles Murray has shown in his books Losing Ground (1984), In Our Hands (2006), and Coming Apart (2012), the result has been an unprecedented decline of the family and civil society in America and the West, producing increasing rates of nonmarital births, divorce, juvenile crime, drug and alcohol abuse, and other pathologies. However, this unsustainable trend can and should be reversed, because the “progressive” narrative that supports it is deeply flawed and easily refuted.
The biblical account of marriage begins in Genesis 1:27, with the creation of man in two sexes: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them.” And Genesis 2:24 explains, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Jesus later called humanity back to these truths (Matt. 19:4–6; Mark 10:6–8), and the Christian story of the world is viewed as culminating in the wedding of Christ and his bride, the Church. All Christian discussions of marriage stem from this “great mystery,” as Paul called it (Eph. 5:32).
Hence, in Christianity, marriage is a sacred union of the highest order. Although Martin Luther, in praising marriage as “pleasing to God and precious in his sight,” also declared that “weddings and marriage are worldly [i.e., secular] affairs,” almost all Christians have continued to regard marriage as sacred.