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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

08 March 2006

How Are Marriages Joined Together by God?

Q: Matthew 19:6 says, “They are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” Marriages are human choices and settlements. Some parents [in India] arrange marriages for their children; others fall in love and are married. How does God join together these people? Does He change situations so people choose someone God has chosen? What is the exact meaning of this verse?

MarriageA: The verse speaks of all marriages, whether arranged or totally of free choice. The acts of pledging themselves to each other and joining sexually establishes a God-joined marriage union. He uses human emotions, including love, as well as human beings, including parents, pastors, and magistrates, to further His desire for committed marriages and stable families. Even the marriages of unbelievers, while not blessed to the same degree as those of Christians, still carry the Creator’s blessing for harmony, interdependence, and child-raising.

Lest readers, especially in the United States and Western Europe, think that the “love” that draws couples into marriage involves a better system than the arranged marriages in much of the rest of the world, I urge reconsideration. Arranged marriages, especially those where the personalities, strengths, and weaknesses of the individuals are known and honestly addressed by the parents, usually are at least as strong and durable as those of “voluntary” joiners. While romantic love may initially be in fuller flame between those who’ve dated and planned their own marriage, it usually flowers just as well after time in an arranged marriage.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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