The original version of this article was written for Quakers, and the above title reflects that usage. However, there is a widely-held belief among people in general that [good] “marriages are made in Heaven.” For this reason, it was thought that the article could well be of wider interest. And it is to be hoped that many folks will gain from what's written here about the “springs” of marriage. May we all come to have a more sure grasp of just how firm a foundation the God of Love created for marital union.
Accordingly, the writer (himself a Quaker) has revised the original with this wider readership in mind.
This article focuses on marriage, and on the precious nature of what Quakers can bring to society concerning this area. The origins of their insight into matrimony are covered. But there is an earlier glorious history that is the backdrop to this vital union, and some of this is also shown.
Most of us are aware of various ways in which the value of the marital bond is being belittled in today's society. These attacks come mainly from the secular world. Here is an example (from The Guardian), of what marriage is said to be(1):
Marriage is an institution set up to protect property and patriarchal rights that we choose to overlay with our need for sex, romance, passion and companionship.
O.k., we know that marriage is not all plain sailing, but do we have to take such a dismal viewpoint as that? To this writer, it illustrates what can happen when a person's mindset is oriented toward this world only. In sharp contrast to the arid ground of the above notion, Quakers are among those who see that we can look on marriage as a direct Gift from God. In their case, this is thanks to the work of George Fox (GF) and the Inspiration which was conferred as a result.
So Quakers can understand, along with others, that marriage is a Heavenly initiative - something to treasure. But can we - all of us - not actually go further; can we not start to see that the Divine Investment in marriage is utterly amazing?
(If you find what follows a bit hard to believe, well it's understandable. But the writer holds that the facts underpinning this article can be shown to be true. The evidence is put forward here, and you can decide.)
First though, it is about time to acknowledge those who are single, those who may feel excluded from marital privilege. The writer hopes that you in particular, will keep reading: later in this article you may come to see that you are not outside the loop.
The Quaker History
To return to George Fox and the Source of Quakers' insight: how to marry was a problem for 17th century Quakers in England. As far as the religious scene went, the Church of England was the exclusive provider of this rite - her ministers were the only people who could enact a legally-recognised marriage service. Early Quakers could hardly keep their integrity and at the same time submit to this constraint. Why? Because they had been fully persuaded that the established denomination was preaching a watered-down version of the Gospel. GF taught that the C of E's, and others' ministry was marked by "priestcraft". (That's not the language that Quakers use today!)
It also came to be realized that it would be no solution for Quakers to seek public approval by opting for a civil marriage ceremony presided over by a magistrate.
George Fox set to and studied what the Bible said about this. He found that there was no reference to a single priest marrying anyone, in any Book of the Bible. From this surprising result, GF went on to seek to learn who was doing the marrying. He was given to know that it is God in Heaven Who does this. GF saw that God is Able to match up a woman and a man in a perfect way, because God is the One Who truly knows and loves us. GF summarizes what was given, in these Words:
For the right
joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only,
and not the priests or magistrates; for it is God's ordinance,
and not man's ... we marry none, it is the Lord's work, and we are but witnesses.
George Fox Epistle 264
So the early Quakers' problem - which could be said to be an administrative one - God answered in a way that was no less than a great Revelation. GF had been granted a prophetic Role: here opening up a window on what is happening in Heaven.
He also pointed out (in GF Epistles 26, 67, etc.) that some marriages were made in the Light; others were made out of the Light. Thanks to this writer's young and hasty decision, he can personally vouch for the fact that these two kinds of marriage exist: his first marital venture took place strictly at the human level, and ended in divorce. Whereas when God did the matching up, what a difference! This scribe is very grateful for the way the Spirit brought the two of us together, and continues to keep us (our union has endured now for 37 years, and counting).
The Words of Jesus, and Other Scriptures
Jesus' Teachings on marriage are very positive. He was clearly against divorce (except for the most serious offences), and He raised the standard against infidelity to a level which challenges all of us! As we see in the Sermon on the Mount:
a man who
divorces his wife, except for fornication, causes her to commit
adultery if she marries again. And he who marries her commits
adultery.” Matthew 5:32 (The Living Bible)
“... Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 (The Living Bible)
In both these marriage-related aspects, Jesus went back to the Law of Moses, and reinterpreted it in favour of women. (And of course, what enhances the status of women in this way is also of benefit to men.) And there are many other Old Testament lessons on marriage which can help us. In the writer's opinion, the most Beautiful teaching is one that is given in the Book of Isaiah:
There shall the kites assemble, none shall be missing its mate. Look in the book of the LORD and read: No one of these shall be lacking, For the mouth of the LORD has ordered it, and his spirit shall gather them there. Isaiah 34:15-16 (New American Bible)
Jesus said we are worth more than "many sparrows" (Matthew 10:31). Perhaps more than kites, then? So the above Scripture can surely be applied to us, can't it?
If we will accept this Hint in Isaiah, the stupendous truth that is outlined here is that no one will be debarred from marriage. There may be a substantial waiting period - Jesus spoke about those who are "eunuchs" in this life (Matthew 19:12). Waiting can be painful, and these ideas will disappoint some. However, in the long run, God will not disappoint! Those who are "reserved for someone" in this life will find their spouse in the next life, and can then rejoice at God's all-inclusive marriage Plans. The Message is that there's a perfectly-matched bridegroom prepared for every woman and a perfectly-matched bride for every man - no exceptions.
The Divine Marriage
Jesus refers to the Marriage of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:6-9). We tend, in these post-modern days, to regard this Bible account (which begins in Genesis 2) as simply an allegory. However, Jesus - Prophet of prophets - would hardly have referred to this Marriage as a real event if it hadn't been so.
So, yes it is an allegory, but it is also a historical fact. And the first example of marriage in the Bible is set up as a Pattern for us:
This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife in such a way that the two become one person. Genesis 2:24 (The Living Bible)
And you may have noticed that God did the searching for a suitable Match for Adam (Genesis 2:18-23). Which is exactly what GF was saying in Epistle 264 above.
An allegory, and more than an allegory because it can be shown that Adam and Eve were, like Jesus, Divine Persons. How do we know this? Because:
1 - Adam is referred to as the "son of God" by the gospel-writer (Luke 3:38).
2 - We are told Adam lived for 930 years (Genesis 5:5). And since humankind is given about 70 years only, something extraordinary applies here.
3 - Eve's Name is "Chavah" in Hebrew, meaning "mother of all living," which title is not limited to being mother for humankind only (Genesis 3:20).
So it seems clear that Lord Jehovah, the Father of Jesus and our Father, came to Earth as Adam, and God our Mother, the Mother of Jesus, came as Eve. To show how marriage should be done - a Love Match that lasted hundreds of years on Earth! And we shall see next, that this Marriage had already flourished for a vast number of years in Heaven.
For this, let us look first at Jesus' Words:
“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife ...” Mark 10:6-7 (New American Standard)
On the surface, Jesus is simply quoting from the Genesis text. But He's not actually, for His Words include not only Genesis 1:27 and 2:24; there's also a flavour of Genesis 1:1 in there. Jesus knew those Scriptures far too well to be speaking loosely. He was saying something much more exciting, this writer suggests!
To see what, let's look at the Messianic verses which begin: "For unto us a child is born," and which contain this unique Insight: "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end …" - Isaiah 9:6-7 (King James Version).
Here is an Assurance of endless growth. Peace, and the extent of Messiah's Realm are to increase, with literally no limit! Surely, if His Realm is to grow like that, it follows that in order to remain Sovereign, Jesus Himself has to grow and develop. And since Jesus is a part of God, must this not apply to God as a Whole? Which makes a lot of sense: it seems as if growth is a law that operates universally. Why should we assume God is outside of it?
If we follow that logical thread, we may see that long, long, ago, life was much simpler. There was God, and no one else. (A Flavor of which we may detect in Genesis 1:1-5.) There was one Person, Who was without gender. Then there was a breakthrough! God decided there could be two Persons.
And They would have Children. Jesus was telling us, above, that the key creative Act was for God to design the two genders. And of course, that would include their sexuality. God then fashioned a masculine Person out of this genderless God. Followed - after a very lengthy, careful time of further planning, design, and refinement - by His Masterpiece: a feminine God-Person. This is how God our Father, and God our Mother (She who is recognized by Catholics, followers of the Gospel of Thomas, etc.) came to be.
Theirs is the first Marriage, with billions of years to its credit! Meaning that all subsequent marriages have an Example to look up to. God clearly believes in marriage.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit, consisting of two Persons - being referred to in the Bible as both She and He - these Two are more joyfully united now in the second Divine Marriage. She was born in Heaven, whereas He arose from the myriad numbers in a portion of Creation. They are referred to as: “the Spirit and the Bride” in Revelation 22:17 (please see also Psalms 85:10). These two God-Persons, with Jesus, are the Children of our Heavenly Parents. So the God-head is really a God-Family.
We can marvel at the way that, before our Parents would be satisfied that all was ready for any of those Heavenly Children to arrive, there must have been again, billions of years of preparation.
What Does This All Mean for Us?
To look ahead, Jesus is called "the Bridegroom" by John the Baptist (John 3:28-29). And Paul tells us that the union of Jesus and the Church is a deep mystery (Ephesians 5:32). By the way, there is a webpage that shines much Light on that mystery(2).
So then, the Insight on marriage that Quakers and others share is a great strength. Marriage is intended as the most tender and intimate of relationships. Our Maker has bestowed on humankind a wonderful array of Gifts, including sexuality - God-designed, and solely for the purpose of raising up beautiful marriages, from which families are created. The Heavenly Pattern is set for us. We are matched up by One Who knows us, and Who knows marriage, inside and out. And George Fox caught sight of a Glorious Vision that we are helped to come up to. There are no folk left out - this life-enhancing Blessing is for all of us.
writer is at: