Marriage is one of the oldest institutions in life. God’s design from the beginning was to make it permanent, indissoluble, honourable, productive, peaceful and joyful. Contrary to much contemporary thought and teaching marriage is not a human concept. Mankind did not simply dream up marriage somewhere along the line as a convenient way of handling relationships and responsibilities between men and women or dealing with the childbearing and parenting issues.
God himself instituted and ordained marriage at a very beginning of human history. The second chapter in genesis describes how God, taking a rib from the side of the man he had already created, fashioned from it a woman to be a “suitable helper” [Gen 2:20] from the man. Then God brought the man and the woman together and confirmed their relationship as husband and wife, there by ordaining the institution of marriage.
From the outset, God established marriage as a permanent relationship, the union of two separate people a man and a woman into one flesh. When Adam first laid eyes on Eve he exclaimed, “this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man” [Gen 2:23]. God’s design for marriage is found in the very next verse. “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” [Gen 2:24]. Marriage is also the foundation upon which the church, the community of believers and God’s special society rests.
The New Testament describes the relationship between Christ and His church as being like that of a bridegroom to his bride. This analogy has significant implications for understanding how husbands and wives are to relate to each other. For example, in his letter to the church in Ephesus the first century Jewish Apostle Paul wrote: ‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, submit to your husband as the Lord , for the husband is the head of wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the saviour, husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her,” for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”.
A man and a woman who have become ”one flesh” under God’s design for marriage cannot be separated without suffering great damage or even destruction. It would be the spiritual equivalent of having an arm or a leg torn from their bodies.
It has become a common but disturbing sight for one to look over congregations and see a large number of single parents. An important factor contributing to the alarming escalation of divorce among Christians, is the growing acceptance of the societal view of marriage as a social contract by the laws of the land rather than a sacred covenant regulated by the higher moral law of God.
Marriage is no longer seen by many people as a Sacred covenant witnessed and guaranteed by God Himself, but rather as a social contract that can easily be terminated. There is a requirement for Christians to obey the laws of the land in which they live; consequently, we do need to follow the legal requirements for marriage as well as the Bible instructions on marriage.
The problem today, is that many Christians do not know for sure what the Bible really teaches in the area of marriage. To counteract secularization and easy dissolution of marriage, it is imperative to reiterate the Biblical view of marriage as a scared, lifelong covenant. The recovery of this view can help Christians resist the societal trend to consider divorce as an easy solution to their marital problem. It is the awareness of the urgent need for literature to help Christians find true biblical answers to important questions regarding marriage, that motivated this write up.
Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a union between a man and a woman that will last forever in loving companionship. In looking at the biblical view of marriage, the most important model of Gods intended pattern is presented in Genesis 1-3. Although the book of Genesis was originally addressed to Israelites while in the wilderness and their preparation for entry into the promise land, the early chapter set the limits of the creators plan for marriage. In Genesis 1-3, marriage is shown to be embedded in one of the creator’s act of making humanity in his image as male and female.
In other to get the man a companion, God created the woman; to be Adam’s wife. The creation of Eve affirms God’s plan for marriage, which involves a monogamous heterosexual relationship. God only made one “suitable helper” for Adam, and she was female. It was God that perceived Adam’s loneliness and hence created the woman. For this reason, it can only be said that marriage is God’s idea and that it was God who made the woman of his own sovereign will as a suitable helper for the man.
Even subsequent to the fall, God’s creation design for marriage continues to provide the norm and standard for God’s expectations for male-female relationship. Based on the foundational treatment of Genesis 1 and 2, subsequent chapters of the Hebrew scriptures provide information on the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives toward each other. Marriage also has purposes beyond each individual marriage that relates to God’s plan for mankind. Christian marriages are to reflect God’s image.
As a product of a failed marriage, I discovered that many couples fail to understand the spiritual meaning and purpose of it, therefore, they see divorce as the only solution to marital problems. Unfortunately, the fruit (child/children) of the union are the ones who suffer most when a marriage collapses, speaking from experience. My parents went their separate ways when I was 3month old and this deprived me of the experience of fatherly love because for the many years of my life my mother was acting as both a father and mother to me at that time. Honestly, she gave all her best to make sure I never felt the absence of my father while growing up. Hence, whenever I remember my experience as a fruit of a failed marriage, I do pity people who still reason marriage as just a legal contract that they can just end at their own wish and time.
At this point, I want to reemphasized the bitter truth, that, Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. It symbolizes the covenant between God and his people. Marriage is celebrated by two persons becoming one flesh in their matrimonial bed.
Marriage has to be lifelong, and to one person, because it is a holy icon of the relationship between God and his people. God does not reject his people, divorce them and leave them and take up with another. God is always faithful to his people. And God is not married to several bodies. He is wedded to one Body, which is the Church (Eph 5). That’s why we don’t divorce and remarry, nor marry more than one person (see Matt 19:6; Mark 10:9). Doing either of these things destroys marriage as an icon of God’s faithfulness to his people. Marriage is tied up with what it means, that human beings are “made in the image of God.” Genesis 1:27 describes it this way: “So God created the man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Another fact I discovered from my parents failed marriage is that as Christians, our believe about God, impacts our understanding of the institution called marriage. I said this, simply because marriage is a sacred icon on the image of God. People’s idea of God and their idea of marriage are always tied. If you get one wrong, the other will also be wrong. One’s theology determines one’s matrimony. Therefore, if you don’t have the knowledge of God, you will not know His idea, meaning, purpose, goals, plans for marriage. No wonder people still reason marriage as just a societal value. Unfortunately, they are suffering from the plague of misconception.
God planned for marriage to be a life-giving relationship. This doesn’t just mean that it ought to lead to the husband and wife having children and starting a family together, (thus, marriage in the common meaning of the word, is an institution whose central element is the act of wedding, which makes the new conjugal relationship a legal entity).
Well, in the Bible, it can be recorded that there were a register of marriages, that had no witnesses and were no documents were signed. Yet, God says in the Bible that they were “husband” and “wife” (Gen 2,25; 3,16), i.e., they formed a marriage! Therefore, in the eyes of God, it is not the wedding ceremony – or any other legally regulated way of creating a union, that determines whether or not a marriage has been formed but the actual union of souls of both partners maritally. In canon and civil law, a husband and wife are persons who have undergone a formal wedding ceremony ; in the Bible, a husband and wife are persons who live together as “one flesh”.
It also means inviting Life (Jesus) himself into their marriage. With this understanding, the couple sees the need to pray together, to seek God’s will in their lives at every turn, and to find ways in which they can draw closer to each other while also drawing closer to God thereby entering into the mystical union of the Trinity and becoming an icon of God’s love for humanity.
Half of all marriages are null; because they get married without maturity, they marry without remembering that it’s for the whole of life, they marry without understanding marriage as sacred instead they marry because socially they must marry (I.e marrying with the understanding of marriage as just a societal value). The only solution to divorce escalation in Christian homes, is for couples to recognise, understand and treat the institution called marriage as sacred and not as a societal value. Treat marriage as God idea and you will enjoy your home.