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relationship should work - see Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1-7. Having two prime ministers is unlikely to result in stable government. Friction would soon show itself. The same would be true of a marriage relationship where the partners tried to exercise equal authority. This does not mean that there is any essential inequality of nature any more than there is any inequality of nature between God and Christ though Christ will be eternally subject to his Father (1 Corinthians 15:28). The relationship of man and woman finds its basis in Genesis 2 and 3 - see 1 Timothy 2:8-15.

A Christian marriage should take as its pattern the relationship of Christ and the assembly (Ephesians 5:22-33). The assembly is the bride of Christ. Is it not Christ to whom the bride is saying Come in Revelation 22:17? The Old Testament equivalent would be the last verse of the Song of Songs: "Haste, my beloved, And be thou like a gazelle or a young hart upon the mountains of spices".

According to the present law in England a man may only have one wife at one time. If he had two he would be a bigamist and if he had more than that a polygamist. He would be committing a criminal offence by doing so. As far as Scripture is concerned Adam only ever had one wife and there is no record that Isaac had more than one: Rebecca. We know that Abraham and Jacob had more than one wife; some of these being concubines; apparently having a lesser status than a wife. Other Old Testament saints had a number of wives. The amassing of wives was in fact forbidden by the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:17) and Solomon failed to recognise this, and we find that his wives turned away his heart (1 Kings 11:1-8). Although Solomon had many wives and concubines it is to be noted that he only ever advocated one, so that we have it said: "Have joy of the wife of thy youth". Note: not wives (Proverbs 5:18). Also we have; "Enjoy life with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity". Note: not wives (Ecclesiastes 9:9). The New Testament does not positively forbid a man to have more than one wife, but there is no suggestion anywhere that he should do so. Paul in 1 Corinthians

7:2 and 9:5 speaks of a wife not wives. It is possible that a man may become a Christian when he already has more than one wife. There is no injunction in Scripture requiring him to put away the excess wives. However, we do have the requirement in Titus 1:6 that an overseer should be "husband of one wife, having believing children not accused of excess or unruly". The fact that Paul says "husband of one wife" rather than a married man indicates that he is thinking of a man with one wife rather than many, though some think that an elder must be a married man. However, if this idea is taken on, it could be argued that a man must not only be married but must have children. It would also appear to eliminate a widower. Luther was prepared to accept a Christian having more than one wife - a fact not generally appreciated I think. Lastly, it is worth noticing that the idea of having two wives came in with Lamech the progeny of Cain (Genesis 4:19). No Christian would want to be thought to be going in the way of Cain (Jude 11). It is strictly possible for a man to have more than one wife as he can be head to both,
whereas, if the headship of man is maintained, it is not possible for a woman to have two husbands because she cannot properly serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). The apparent position is that a Christian should only seek one wife though if he is converted when he has more than that he should not be required to dispense with any of his wives. Apart from that the current legal prohibition against having more than one wife should be respected.

The question arises as to who a Christian should marry. Obviously it will be said: "another Christian". This is right. Paul says: "A wife is bound for whatever time her husband lives; but if the husband be fallen asleep, she is free to be married to whom she will, only in [the] Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:39). The last clause is the limiting one. In the Lord means that the person she marries must come under that heading, that is, be one who is subject to the Lord's will as all Christians should be. If a Christian marries a non-Christian then there is incompatibility: a diverse yoke which Paul says should not be entered into by a Christian - see 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. The relationship will not be a happy one. Because of the break-up of Christendom into sects questions can arise as to whether a Christian should marry another Christian who is linked with a different fellowship or sect. The question of incompatibility then arises again though not in quite such an acute way. Esau took two Hittite wives which were a grief of mind to his parents (Genesis 26:34/35; 27:46). They were foreign wives and would correspond to non-Christians in the present day. They no doubt served gods other than Jehovah. However when Esau saw that his Hittite wives were not acceptable to his parents he took as wife a daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's Son (Genesis 28:6-9). In this case the relationship was acceptable on the Father's side, but the Mother was an Egyptian woman (Genesis 21:20/21). This would correspond to the case of a marriage where the other party was a child of God but whose religious links on earth were unacceptable. The idea of the Mother is connected with the latter - see Galatians 4:21-26 which deals with the case of Isaac and Ishmael.

Apart from the question dealt with in the previous paragraph a Christian is free to marry another if that other is also free to marry. This would have to be within any limits laid down by the law of the land. However, the law cannot rightly forbid marriage, though it may regulate it, as marriage is a God-ordained relationship and to forbid it would be a serious matter. Paul speaks of "forbidding to marry" under the heading of "teachings of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1-3). Wisdom would need to be exercised when marriage is considered. It would hardly be suitable for a 96 year old man to marry a 16 year old girl (she might think it was if he was rich !), or vice versa. There is no scriptural prohibition that would stop a mixed race


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