What Marriage Is
What Marriage Is
Marriage is the product of a divine plan. Human beings did not think it up or invent it God created it. The Garden of Eden is where He chose to institute it. Throughout His Word He upholds it. Christ’s presence at the wedding in Cana confirms it.
In this lesson we will study how the relationship of Christ to His church is reflected in every marriage built upon divine principles.
Someone has likened marriage to a kit which “contains all of the pieces of something that must be put together.” It requires some sanding of rough parts, some gluing, a bit of hammering, some dusting, waxing, and polishing. But the result is beautifully rewarding.
The kind of marriage that will have far-reaching effects for good is the one that is built according to the pattern and directions given in God’s Word.
Marriage: A God-Given Institution
Marriage is the only institution, or organization, on earth today that began before sin came into the world. We read about it in God’s Word, the Bible.
Genesis 2:18, 21-22. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.” Then the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the flesh. He formed a woman out of the rib and brought her to him.
Given With a Pattern to be Followed
We see that God made Eve to be a companion for Adam before sin came into the world. So we know that God Himself gave man and woman the marriage relationship as part of His perfect plan for them. Because God included marriage in the perfect conditions that He provided in the Garden of Eden, we can accept it as His pattern for all men in all times.
God is pleased to have people marry, but He has standards for marriage. He expects His people to follow these standards, to go by the pattern He gives them for marriage.
Unfortunately, sin entered the Garden of Eden. Ever since then sin has been twisting and spoiling many of the blessings that God has given man. Sin has ruined millions of marriages. If you want your marriage to be the wonderful relationship that God wants you to enjoy, follow the pattern that He gives you in His Word, the Bible.
Today, as never before, there is an attack on the institution of marriage and the home. Many would even do away with marriage altogether and substitute temporary arrangements for living together without being married. These arrangements can then be ended whenever either party desires. In many parts of the world, two-thirds of the marriages end in divorce. This is totally contrary to God’s pattern given in His Word. He desires that your marriage be a relationship in which He can express His love for you. This can happen only as you honor Him, by seeking His guidance and following His pattern.
The Bible gives us much teaching about marriage and the home. Some of you who are studying this course have not yet married. Let God guide you in your plans for marriage. Those of you who are already married will find that this course can help you make your marriage better and happier.
Given to Teach Spiritual Truths
The kind of marriage that God has planned for you is a picture of the love, respect, union, and companionship between Christ and His church. In the Old Testament God calls Himself the husband of His people. In the New Testament the church is called the bride of Christ.
Ephesians 5:31-33. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.” There is a deep secret truth revealed in this scripture, which I understand as applying to Christ and the church. But it also applies to you: every husband must love his wife as himself, and every wife must respect her husband.
Marriage: A Special Relationship
Marriage is the union of a man and a woman that legally and morally binds the two together for life and excludes intimate relationships with all others. In this way a home can be established and a family maintained. When a man and woman are united in marriage, “they become one.”
Love and Companionship
God said that it was not good for man to be alone. He took a bone from man and made woman to meet his need for companionship.
Matthew Henry wrote that God didn’t take a bone from Adam’s foot so that he could trample on his wife. He didn’t take a bone from his head so that his wife could rule over him. God took a rib from Adam’s side, from close to his heart, so that man would love his wife, protect her, and keep her by his side.
The happiness of a marriage depends on the love and companionship between husband and wife. Eve was a part of Adam. Husband and wife become a part of each other. Their lives are joined into one life and neither is complete alone. Ephesians 5:28 says, “Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies.”
Marriage usually brings the relationship and responsibilities of parenthood to a man and his wife. Their marriage forms a home and family where children can be born and have the love and care of a father and a mother. God’s words to Adam and Eve show that parenthood is part of His plan: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28, KJV).
When children are born into a family, the parents have the responsibility of caring for them and providing a stable and harmonious homelife. God is very concerned that children be given the proper setting in which to grow and come to know Him. Read Mark 10:13-16, which will help you
understand Jesus’ attitude toward children.
Marriage: A Sacred Union
One Man and Woman
There were no other people in the world besides Adam and Eve. Someone might think that God should have given Adam more than one wife so that the world could be populated more quickly. But God, who always knows best, gave him only one wife. This was God’s design; this was God’s ideal for marriage. Therefore, in the ideal marriage God provided one wife for one man.
Matthew 19:5-6. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.” So they are no longer two, but one. Man must not separate, then, what God has joined together.
Jesus said that a man and woman would become one. Regardless of customs, this is the Bible teaching. In some parts of the world, custom permits a man to marry more than one wife. In one country it is the custom for a woman to marry more than one man. In another area, all of the sons of one family marry the same woman. And among some people the husbands trade wives. Some people divorce and remarry time after time. Others just live together without getting married. So, you see, customs do not offer you a practical guide for the right kind of marriage. For that you have to go to God’s Word.
God’s Law About This Union
Jesus taught that nothing should break this union, or oneness, of a man with his wife. When God gave Moses the laws that we call the Ten Commandments, He included laws against sins which would destroy the union of man and wife:
Exodus 20:14, 17. Do not commit adultery. Do not desire another man’s wife.
Either marriage partner who has sexual relations with another person commits adultery and is breaking God’s law. This is immoral. Even wanting someone else’s wife or husband is a sin. “But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The New Testament also reinforces God’s warning against immorality. Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery (Hebrews 13:4).
Marriage: Importance for the World
Looking back over this lesson you can see that marriage is part of God’s plan for mankind. When we follow God’s teaching and pattern for marriage, we have a happy home. Our experiences in the home will help us understand better many spiritual truths.
God’s purpose is that husband and wife, parents and children, find in the family the love, companionship, and care that each one needs.
He has also established the family as the basic unit of society. His laws set the moral standards that men and women are to live by. Those who come from happy homes where they have learned to live together peaceably, will find this helps them in getting along with others. Communities, which
are held in high respect, are made up of families who are honorable and upright. Good families make good communities, and good communities make good nations.
How important it is, then, for each family to accept God’s standards and go by His rules for happiness! How important to guard against the things that would ruin the home! And how important it is for you to learn what God has to say about your family and your home! God bless you as you study and put into practice what you learn in each lesson.