“Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. “ (Reference: 1 Corinthians 7:1-6 )
As each day under this theme comes, I find it more and more challenging to keep my opinions to myself. There are so many things I would like to say, but I determined to have this year’s postings focus on historic Anabaptist views when there is a divergence between the situations then and in our modern day. And I am careful that my opinions not overshadow what they historic Anabaptists have to say. On this subject I fear they might.
Peter Riedeman wrote in his Confession of Faith concerning marriage,
“Marriage is a union of two in which each one undertakes to care for the other, and the second agrees to obey the first. Through their agreement, two become one; they are no longer two but one. If this is to be a godly union, the two must come together in accordance with God’s will and order, not through their own action and choice. That means that neither shall forsake the other, but together they shall endure good and bad times as long as they live. . . .
Through this we see how marriage instructs us and leads us to God, for if we regard it rightly, it teaches us to know God and to cling to him. However, where marriage is not seen in the right way, it leads people away from God and brings about death. Since there are few who perceive it correctly and many who perceive and observe it incorrectly, Paul says it is good for a man not to touch a woman, in case he is swept away in his ignorance to his own ruin. [1 Cor. 7:1-8] So we will speak of marriage insofar as God enables us.”
There is some things I could say about Riedeman’s perspective of marriage; first, who is the “one [who] undertakes to care for the other” and who is the one that is to obey the first. But that may not seriously concern me because he states that marriage instructs as to how to know and follow God. More concerning to me is that Riedeman feels that many perceive and observe marriage incorrectly – although in order for me to give my definitive opinion I would need to know more about how Riedeman thinks marriage should be correctly done and what he thinks is incorrect. Dependent on that, I may be seriously concerned about Riedeman’s role assignments in marriage. It does concern me that because many do not perceive marriage correctly (according to Riedeman) they might miss out on the joy and learning that can come from marriage. Or perhaps Riedeman does not feel that much can be learned or that the value of it is small in comparison to being “swept away in his ignorance to his own ruin.” And finally, beloved, I would wonder how firm Riedeman is in his pronoun – that is, does “he” mean exclusively male or people in general.
Riedeman does have many good things to say about marriage, and I am hopeful that my concerns spring not from his strict outlook but are concerns fueled by the cumulative abuses that have happened over the years to both genders of spouses. I have long felt that our relationship to God and our relationship to our spouse are intertwined and that one keenly affects the other.
I do not know, beloved, what your marital situation is. I imagine there is diversity. What I do hope and pray is that through those relationships you have learned about love, commitment, fidelity, honesty, compassion and caring. May God bless your relationships and may you be blessing to others through those relationships. Selah!