Traditional, biblical marriage

As we are so often reminded, God’s definition of marriage does not change over time and it’s helpful for us to go back and examine the biblical source material. One of the most heartwarming accounts of traditional marriage is the very special love story of Jacob and his wives Rachel and Leah. Jacob, later called Israel, was the (literal) father of the “twelve tribes” and can be seen in many ways as the founder of the Judeo-Christian tradition. This is his story as I learned it in Sunday School as a child:

Jacob, having recently deceived his elderly, blind father in a successful attempt to steal his brother’s inheritance, fled to his Uncle Laban’s place many miles away. Upon arrival, he fell in love with Rachel, his first cousin, and decided that they must be married. So he agreed to work for Laban for seven years in order to buy her.

Unfortunately, at the end of the seven years, Uncle Laban pulled a switch and sold Jacob his older, less attractive daughter Leah instead. Jacob, having been tricked into marrying Leah, was forced to work another seven years in order to purchase Rachel and marry her as well.

Jacob did not care much for Leah (although he evidently had sex with her often enough to produce ten sons) and very much preferred Rachel. God, who apparently does not appreciate his creations playing favorites among their collections of wives, punished Rachel (rather than Jacob) by refusing for many years to let her bear children.

Eventually, however, Rachel had two sons of her own, one of whom led the family to Egypt, where they became slaves for four hundred years.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Thank God for an unchanging definition of traditional, biblical marriage that we can all appreciate and understand.

5 thoughts on “Traditional, biblical marriage

  1. The one where he almost smites his son?

    Or maybe the one where his first wife makes him disown his second wife and the son he fathered with her?

    Love those traditional family values, huh?

  2. Perhaps you would prefer the fairy tale version of the Bible where it doesn’t refer to real life people and their problems with their sin and how they are imperfect as we are today (which is why it was written this way). I see these same “stories” played out everyday on TV, in magazines and even down the block. Why are you so cynical? Oh that’s right, because YOU are too a flawed human being who needs a little grace just to make it through the day.

  3. Trish: My point here is that part of the argument advanced by many Christians is that the “biblical” definition of marriage does not change (and therefore same sex marriage could never be OK).

    However, the “biblical” definition of marriage clearly HAS changed over time as even the most devout Christians today generally don’t purchase multiple wives (a practice which was apparently just fine and dandy in Old Testament days). The marriage issue is just another area where too many Christians have a tendency to pick and choose which parts of the Bible they want to acknowledge depending on how conveniently it suits their current argument.

    Like a good friend recently said, “Given that so many self-professed Christians routinely decide which parts of the Bible they want to ignore (or remain purposely ignorant of), why are they so surprised or offended when other people decide to ignore all of it?”

    Count me as part of the latter camp.

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