Most of us have known for a long time that God’s gift of marriage serves many purposes. It is a beautiful vehicle for intimate friendship, the opportunity to create new life, an advanced course in selflessness and learning to serve others, and a nurturing environment for children and family.
But a recent article on Islam turned on some light bulbs for me. Marriage is all of the above and more. But it is also a vital tool for world peace.
World peace? Isn’t that taking things a bit too far?
I don’t think so. I’ve had my “Aha” moment. World peace and stability.
That’s what marriage is for.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that after Genesis 1, which records the incredible, awesome, magnificent creation of the heavens and the earth, that Genesis 2 immediately records the importance of marriage to the overall creation.
Marriage seems to be the “key” to creation going well.
Of course, God-designed marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman into a relational and physical “oneness” that models the unity of the Trinity. That’s been the God-given definition of marriage for at least six thousand years.
Let’s take a moment to look at the passage that describes its origin: Genesis 2:18-24
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.”
“But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”
“The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’”
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
That’s God’s equation for marriage.
A couple things leap out here. First, man needed a woman to make him complete. She was designed to complement him, to make him whole. Second, the woman was made from the flesh of the man (the rib). British theologian John Stott believes that the essence of marriage is God re-uniting male and female flesh through sexual intercourse.
On a micro-scale, that makes a lot of sense. The natural draw of men and women is the desire to reunite maleness and femaleness into a newly constituted unity of life and purpose.
However, from a macro point of view– the big picture of things–maybe the institution of marriage was meant to accomplish a far greater purpose.
Social harmony. Stability. Order. Peace.
This lofty thought came after reading an article on the roots of Muslim Jihad. It’s worth sharing in its entirety.
Is Polygamy the Cause of Muslim Violence?
By: William Tucker
“Syria is submerged in civil war. The Sunni and the Shi’ia of Iraq are renewing their 1300-year-old conflict. Libyan rebels have shut down the nation’s oil industry. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has been suppressed and is resorting to terrorism. Pakistan is a cauldron of violence and assassinations. In short, the Muslim world, as usual, is at war with itself.”
“This is not a contemporary phenomenon. Islam has been attacking its neighbors ever since the Prophet Mohammed received the Koran from the Angel Gabriel in the 7th century. Within 50 years of his death, Muslim armies had conquered the known world from Spain to Afghanistan. The Moguls invaded India, setting off a conflict that persists today. The Ottoman Empire besieged Europe for hundreds of years before its collapse in the 20th century. As historian Samuel Huntington has written, Islam has always had ‘bloody borders.’”
“Is there any explanation for this? Is it temperament or history? Is it the inevitable fight over scarce resources? Or, as Muslim cultures would insist, is it because Islam has always been surrounded by hostile neighbors?”
“In my book, Marriage and Civilization, I offer a novel explanation as to why Islam has always been at war with itself and others. It is because Islam it is the only major religious culture that embraces polygamy.”
“Polygamy? What does that have to do with anything? Am I suggesting that because some minor sheik outside Baghdad takes two wives, two young Muslim brothers in Massachusetts feel compelled to blow up the Boston Marathon?”
“Well, yes. In any human society there are approximately the same number of men and women. Under monogamy, which limits each man to one wife, everyone gets a fair chance to marry. When powerful and successful men are allowed to take more than one wife, however, as they are in a polygamous society, this creates a pool of unsuccessful men at the bottom of society who are constantly in conflict with the system.”
“The history of Islam has been one continuous story of rebel groups off in the desert and deciding that the religion being practiced by the authorities and their harems back in the cities is not the ‘true Islam.’ They come crashing back upon the palaces, overthrowing the leaders (no Ottoman Sultan ever died of natural causes) and establishing a new regime that is just like the old one, where powerful are allowed to take multiple wives.”
“The Prophet Muhammad had a novel solution to this problem. Go and conquer neighboring societies and requisition their women. If you die in the process, the reward will be even greater – 72 virgins waiting for you in heaven! ‘Jihad’ has been a clever and effective way of redirecting the hostilities of the ‘bachelor herd’ that polygamy inevitably produces.”
“The fruits of polygamy are visible all over the Middle East. Because women are always in short supply, families can charge a ‘bride price’ to any man who wants to marry their daughter. Because daughters are now worth money, they must be veiled and sequestered so they don’t run off with some callow youth. Older men desperate for wives push down into younger and younger cohorts of the population. Marriages between 35-year-old men and 13-year-old girls become common. (Muhammad’s last wife was age six.)”
“But the main product of polygamy is a population of angry young men who are ripe recruits for terrorism. The Koran supposedly limits a man to four wives but in countries where there are vast disparities of wealth this is routinely violated. Osama bin Laden’s father, a successful Saudi businessman, had 22 wives and 54 children. The unbalance between unmarried men and the available women in Saudi Arabia is the highest in the world. Is it any wonder that 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers were Saudi nationals?”
“Ann Coulter once suggested that we would cure Muslim violence by converting the Islamic world to Christianity. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Christianity’s long enforcement of monogamous marriage has obviously played a critical role in establishing the more peaceful civilization of the West. The same can be said for China and India, where the vast majority adhere to monogamy. None of these cultures is plagued with the endless internal violence and outward aggression of Islam.”
“Converting the Muslim world to Christianity may be out of the question, but persuading it to give up polygamy on the grounds that it creates an inherently unstable society is a task that the rest of the world might be willing to undertake.”
I agree with everything Tucker postulates except the final paragraph. Ann Coulter is right. The key to eliminating Muslim violence in the world is the Good News of Christ which changes the heart and brings a human life into the blessings of God’s ways. One of those blessings is marriage–monogamy–and the peace and stablity it brings to human societies.
The most peaceful societies in the world are biblically based. Look at Europe, the Americas, Pacific Islands, and many other nations where the Good News has created marriages and cultures that create the greatest amount of peace possible in a fallen world.
Because marriage restrains sin through godly wives who keep men from giving in to their pugnacious natures.
This was a conclusion of Robert Bellah in his 1980s best-selling book Habits of the Heart. In his chapter called “Love and Marriage” Bellah explained that the genius of early America was the centrality of faith, marriage, family, and “superiority of the American women.”
Bellah quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian, who visited America during the 1930s: “[Christianity] reigns supreme in the souls of the women, and it is women who shape mores. Certainly of all countries in the world, America is the one in which the marriage tie is the most respected and where the highest and truest conception of conjugal happiness has been conceived.”
Bellah concluded what we men know from experience: Women are the superior sex and we desperately need their spiritual sensitivities to restrain our male excesses, guide and teach our children, provide an environment of love and nurture for the family–and in a phrase–keep the peace.
Is there any honest man out there that disagrees? Godly women are the fulcrum of stable families and nations. And it is the institution of marriage that ties us to their apron strings so that we don’t go off half cocked and destroy the planet.
Thirty years ago, in the margins of Bellah’s book, I wrote in my wife’s name–twice. Yes, I desperately need Shirley to bring peace, love, and unity to our home and family!
If we want peace on earth, less wars, and social stability, then godly women anchoring biblical marriages form the time-tested recipe for success.
God is awfully smart.
He knew that’s what marriage is for.