Kyrie Eleison quotes J. Lewis Martin’s Galatians to ask some very interesting questions about how Christian marriage differs from marriage under the Old Covenant.
What a different argument lies before us in Gal 3:26-29; 6:14-15! Here the basis is explicitly not creation, but rather the new creation in which the building blocks of the old creation are declared to be nonexistent. If one were to recall the affirmation “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18), one would also remember that the creational response to loneliness is married fidelity between man and woman (Gen 2:24; Mark 10:6-7). But in its announcement of the new creation, the apocalyptic baptismal formula declares the erasure of the distinction of male from female. Now the answer to loneliness is not marriage, but rather the new-creational community that God is calling into being in Christ, the church marked by mutual love, as it is led by the Spirit of Christ (Gal 3:28b; 5:6, 13, 22; 6:15).
A tension between new-creational argument and creational argument is not to be found, however, within Galatians itself. In writing to his church in Corinth, for example, Paul will negotiate the relation between new creation and creation by advising married people to be married as though not being married (1 Cor 7:29). For the Galatians he provides no such finesse. Indeed, in writing to the Galatians Paul avoids two things. He does not demonstrate the tension that can be seen between a creational argument and a new-creational one. And, correspondingly, he does not provide a way of relating the one to the other, as though in some manner new creation could be added to creation. Here he argues uncompromisingly on the basis of God’s new creation.
The result of such a radical vision and of its radical argumentation is the new-creational view of the people of God harmonious with the one we have seen in Comment #37. Just as, in Galatians 5:13-14, the need to surmount loneliness is now met not by marriage, but rather by the loving mutuality enacted in the new creation, the church of God, so the corresponding need to belong to a coherent community is not met by the making of a people ethnically and religious differentiated from other peoples, but rather by the community of that new creation that God is calling into existence in Christ throughout the whole of the world. Thus, this corporate people is determined to no degree at all by the religious and ethnic factors that characterized the old creation (5:6; 6:15). This people is determined solely by incorporation into the Christ in whom those factors have no real existence.
Looking at marriage through the lens of Galatians 3:28, “In Christ . . . there is not male and female,” is compared to the way Paul looks at it in 1 Cor. 7:29-30: “But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none, and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use this world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.”
Jesus said that in the kingdom of heaven we would not marry or be given in marriage. Marriage is fundamentally a thing of the Old Creation which is passing away, and Christians are to make sure they view it that way.
The modern evangelical focus on marriage and family as the primary building blocks of Christianity, is thus incorrect, and therefore the emphasis on gender roles, male authority and female submission in marriage, as being a paramount value for Christians to uphold against encroaching modern culture, is an emphasis on that which Paul tells us is simply not meant to be important to us. We are to “seek first the kingdom and His righteousness,” Jesus tells us. We are to relate to one another primarily as brothers and sisters in Christ. Mark 3:33-35 tells us that it is not family relationships, but people doing together the will of God, that is the foundation of Christian community.
A marriage that consists of two people united in doing the will of God together– that is the standard our marriages are to reach for. The New Creation kingdom is simply not about “roles.” It was never meant to be.