Is it unrealistic or unreasonable to think that professing Christians, reading the same passage of Scripture from the same translation, should come up with the same interpretation as to what is implied from that verse or passage?
In seminary I learned there are many translations of Scripture, but there is only one interpretation. I was taught words not only have a meaning they also have a usage.
What is the opposite of darkness? Light.
What is the opposite of heavy? Light.
A word picture: I saw a bird light on a tree branch.
Other than spelling, and being descriptive, what do these three words have in common? Useage.
Following is the text of Genesis 2:24 taken from four translations in common use today.
New American Standard Bible:
For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
King James Version:
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
New International Version:
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Revised Standard Version:
“Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
It dawned on me while transcribing these translations when the Holy Spirit imparted this information there were no human fathers and mothers. This was before God gave the command for Adam and Eve to “replenish” the earth thereby becoming the first father and mother.
This was a pronouncement - an authoritative announcement. Whose plan is marriage? Who has the right to set the guidelines? The answer to both questions is God.
Note the phrase one flesh is used in all four translations. There is no other one-flesh relationship mentioned in Scripture. This one flesh relationship is unique between a man and a woman the instant they are pronounced husband (male) and wife (female). This is ordained of God not by the religious or civil official performing the wedding ceremony.
I liken this as a miracle second only to our salvation experience. II Corinthians 5:17 reads: “Therefore if any man (generic) be in Christ, he is a new creature (Greek: original formation): old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”
In Christ we become new creatures; in a God-ordained marriage between one male and one female they become one flesh.
From 1 John 3:2 we learn:
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like* (Also see Ps. 17:15) him for we shall see him as he is.”
*Greek: Like: similar (in appearance or character)
Psalm 17:15, A Psalm of David: “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness*.”
*Hebrew: Likeness: to portion out, a sort i.e. species; a part of from or out of; something portioned i.e. fashioned out of.
At that time, for the first time, we will see ourselves as we are as Christians. We will look like Jesus no matter the state of His being.
Before continuing, I have heard seekers of biblical truth describe word studies as boring; but the absence of accurate, in depth word studies sets the stage for teaching error.
To reiterate, words have a meaning and a usage. It takes language experts to precisely define the meaning and usage of words to point out to those of us less informed as to what the Bible is actually teaching.
At this point I researched the definition of marriage in the oldest dictionary I have and the newest. Here are the results.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language ©1969:
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition ©2003:
Without a change in law between 1969 and 2003, it is interesting to see that the word marriage re-defined itself 12 years ahead of the recent Supreme Court ruling.
This begs the question: Was the recent Supreme Court ruling based solely upon law?
Moving right along.
Second Timothy 3:16-17 reads: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
God is the common denominator in Scripture. John 1:1 boldly declares: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Among Christians this should not be debated or doubted.
Human authors, under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, had to use the languages in place in their day. Neither the Holy Spirit nor the writers could coin new words.
Second Timothy 2:15 reads: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Biblical mathematics is different from the science of numbers and their operations, but that does not mean biblical math is not an accurate summation.
Illustration: From Genesis 2:24 we glean 1 + 1 = 1. In II Timothy 2:15 to rightly divide the word of truth you do not have a divisor by which a dividend is divided.
To rightly divide the Word of God you subtract all that the Bible reports on any given subject using a Topical Bible as a guide; then add all those verses together into one concise statement. This rightly divides (separates and compiles) the truth regarding any subject.
The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy that God’s Word, the Bible, admonishes those of us called to teach and preach to be approved of God for what we teach, i.e. many translations but only one interpretation.
In my studies I employ three tools - two of which will be familiar to Bible students. First, a current version of a collegiate-level English Dictionary, and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary of the Old Testament and the Greek Dictionary of the New Testament. Additionally, add to your library any outdated dictionaries you can find. Many contain definitions of words no longer in use today but were popular yester-year.
The Eight Rules of Interpretation, my third source, may be new to some; but it is a very vital tool for discerning word meanings and usages. I suggest a quick Google search of this tool to see why it is so highly recommended for biblical research.
The link is: http://www.gcfchurch.net/library/current/8rules.htm
An excerpt from Google: “These Eight Rules were developed by specialists in the "science of meaning" over the past 2500 years dating from Socrates to the present day. They apply equally to legislative or theological language. Critical analysis is impossible without them. Interpretive scholarship accepts them.”
In researching, start with the Rule of Context, then Definition and Usage. One of the primary culprits regarding false teaching is quoting verses taken out of context. This is called proof-texting.
God, the Creator, was talking directly to one male, Adam, and one female, Eve, being the only humans He created directly. Adam from the earth itself and Eve from the flesh of Adam. There should be no confusion as to who was speaking and the genders of those receiving these instructions.
Dr. Ed Wheat in his book, Love Life for Every Married Couple, writes: “These twenty-two words (KJV) sum up the entire teaching of Scripture on marriage. All else that is said emphasizes or amplifies the three fundamental principles originated here, but (This Author’s note: future references to marriage) never changes them in the slightest.”
In applying the Rule of Definition we must look at the primary words in this verse as follows:
Man: English: An individual human, especially an adult male human.
Man: Hebrew: Ruddy, i.e. a human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.)
Note the preceding verse, Genesis 2:23: “And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of by flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’”
Rule of Usage: It is essential to note in Verse 23 the genders are capitalized in the KJV. Why? In the Hebrew language this changed the definition of man, as noted in Verse 24, from a general classification to Man in Verse 23 as a specific classification.
Man: Hebrew: a man as an individual or male person (underscored for emphasis by this Author) often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation). See Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, Word 376.
Wife: English: A female partner in a marriage
Hebrew: Feminine of man (376), i.e. female person
One: English: being a single unit or thing
Hebrew: a primary root: to unify (Note how this usage of the word one solidifies the definition of flesh in the Hebrew language)
Flesh: English: The physical nature of human beings
Hebrew: Flesh (from its freshness) by extension body, person, also by (euphemism – the expression so substituted) the pudendum* of mankind.
*Pudendum – The pudendum is a word meaning the human external genitalia, especially of the female.
This overlooked, or seldom if ever pointed out fact, unequivocally concludes that in God’s Mind marriage was to be between a male and female since that is the way He created them.
God knew beforehand that His purpose for creating them was for procreation as stated in Genesis 1:27-28: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish (Hebrew: a primary root: to fill) the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
God wanted His Image preserved throughout the generations of humans. Therefore it stands to reason (Rule of Logic) why God placed severe prohibitions against sexual acts that would not or could not preserve His Image in any way other than through the legitimate offspring of a man and woman, united in Holy Matrimony, as created by Him.
The Bible is replete with illustrations of God’s sexual prohibitions.
Leviticus 18:22: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind (Hebrew: a male, as of man or animals as being the most noteworthy sex) as with womankind (Hebrew: a woman, (used in the same wide general sense as a male): it is abomination.”
Romans 1:26-27: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one to another, men with men working (Greek: performing) that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense (Greek: requital: to make retaliation for) of their error which was meet.”
Individuals (individually and collectively) are free to do whatever they want to do provided there is no one to stop them. But they are never free to choose the consequences of their choices. And often, in the decision-making process (individually and collectively), they rationalize to the point of compromise.
Bottom Line: Biblically speaking, there is no right way to do the wrong thing.
At the outset of this presentation I noted there are professing Christians who see this matter differently. I am open to hear biblical support upon which your opposing viewpoint(s) may be built.
Rev. Thomas C. Lacy
Founder, Director & Counselor
New Hope Counseling Service