- Well, to some – it is “the quickest way to kill a good romance.”
- To a live-in girlfriend, it might be a piece of paper that guarantees she will get some money for all the time she invested in a bad relationship.
- To others it is the answer to most of their problems – and still others it is where most of the problems began.
Turning to our first reading, however, we find that God conducted the first wedding in the Garden of Eden. Hence, we find this possible definition: It is the union of one man and one woman by the will of God into a growing relationship of love for life.
Biblically speaking, marriage fulfills four purposes God has for mankind.
- The first is to populate the earth. In Genesis 1:28 God tells Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply.”
- The second is to avoid loneliness. In our opening verse we find that for the first time in the creation account something is NOT good. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
- The third purpose is to satisfy sexual desires. In 1 Corinthians 7:9 Paul says, “. . .it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
- And the fourth is to build character so as to produce godly children. This is found in Malachi 2:15, “Has not the Lord made them one?” And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring.”
Of course, one of the the most damaging situations for any relationship is one’s own demeanor. If one is content or happy with their own life, then they will most likely extend that contentment or happiness into the relationship.
And it is also true that most relationships benefit from both persons bringing this type of attitude into the relationship.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen, and it is why one out of every two and a half marriages ends up in the divorce courts. Other marriages stay together only by the two people doing their own thing, living their own lives, and tolerating each other.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale tells of the man who died and stood sulking outside the gates of heaven. St. Peter noticed something was wrong and asked him why he looked so mad.
The man said, “I am mad and I have a question. All my life I was taught that marriages were made in heaven. I prayed for a wife and believed God answered my prayer. I was a Christian and my wife was a Christian. We went to church and brought up our kids in church. But neither my wife nor I were happy. We seemed to make each other miserable, so in the end, we left each other alone. She went her way and I went mine. God has let me down. My marriage was certainly not made in heaven – and that’s why I’m mad.”
Peter said, “Let me check the book.” He looked and said, “Sir, your name is here and you did marry in God’s will. Your marriage was made in heaven. But sir, you have made a very common mistake. We get men and women every day with this problem. You do not understand. You think God gives the FRUIT of a happy Christian marriage, but He doesn’t. God gives the SEED. It is up to the husband and wife to cooperate with God and work and pray to produce the fruit out of the seed. God has given us the seeds to produce a happy, godly, powerful, purposeful home. His Word gives us principles to follow, and His Spirit gives us power to claim.
Unfortunately, we also have a sinister figure, known as Satan, who came between the first husband and wife – and many more since.
Which means that all the powers of hell will be directed against our marriages, especially if it is a Christian marriage. Satan is often the author of arguments and greed, laziness and pouting, neglect, drugs, infidelity, alcohol and a thousand other demons that make our homes a touch of hell instead of a touch of heaven.
OK, so let’s get back to our reading because I think it’s pretty clear that God is the author of marriage and before God formed the church or the nation, He formed the home. Therefore, marriage becomes “the foundation of an honorable, happy society.” Why? Because children need stability, education and character to build a suitable society – and it is in the home, more than anywhere else, that they receive this.
But on a more personal level, God wants the right kind of marriage not just for mankind or society, but for you and me. In this passage, we see God reading the loneliness of Adam’s heart and working to meet his needs. We do not see Adam frantically running all over the garden to find a partner. We don’t see him sulking under a tree and blaming God for his emptiness. No, God read his heart, put him to sleep, took out of him what he needed and quietly fashioned the ideal partner. When Adam quietly and confidently left the whole matter in the hands of God, God supplied his need. This is the same God who is concerned for our needs and all we need to do is cooperate with God.
We also have some guidelines for marriage in the bible – and I know that most of us here are either already married or past the marrying stage – so even if some of this teaching doesn’t apply to us – we can still pass it along to our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. First of all the bible teaches us that we should be looking for a person of the opposite sex. The world may call homosexuality an “alternate, acceptable lifestyle,” but God’s word calls it an abomination.
Paul says that it is shameful, unnatural, perverted and those who practice such things will: “receive in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Rom. 1:27 ESV)
Now, I know of cases where one partner leads the other partner to Christ, but in 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul also warns us: “not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” God can and does bless the union of the believer and unbeliever at times. He can, and does, use one to lead the other to Christ. But this is the exception and not the rule. To marry a non-Christian is to run the risk of having an unhappy home with a different set of values and interests and activities constantly pulling against each other.
Think about the Jewish people when they were about to enter the promised land. God told them to destroy everyone currently living there. I always found that command pretty harsh, but look what happened! They didn’t follow God’s command and the next thing you know the Jews are worshiping Cannanite gods.
Let’s face it, we are imperfect and those we love are imperfect, yet our task is to love one another, “warts and all.”
Chuck Swindal is a pretty good theologian, but he was kidding around when he said: God presented Eve to Adam, and his response was “Wow! Wrap her up. I’ll take her.” He later found out Eve had weaknesses and he asked the Lord, “could you slim her down a little and add a curve here or there? Could you put a control switch on her mouth so I can switch it off at times? Could you teach her to cook something besides baked apples?”
The point is that being one from two is hard enough. yet it seems rather clear that when God is not part of the picture that we are only complicating matters.
So, to give Adam a life partner God caused him to go into a deep sleep.
Just as night preceded the mornings of creative activity in chapter one, so did night precede the creation of Eve in chapter two. God took a rib from Adam then God made a woman from the rib.
So, God brought Eve to Adam and Adam started singing: “This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she will be called woman because she was taken out of Man. Mind you, Eve was not taken from Adam’s head that she might rule over him. She was not taken from his heel that he might rule over her. She was taken from his side that they might walk together. She was taken from under his arm that he might protect her and from near his heart that he might cherish her. Marriage is a lifetime partnership between two equals.
After the fall, God told Eve that she would be ruled by her husband. This was not God’s original design but is part of the consequences of sin. And in several New Testament passages Christian wives are told to “be subject” to their husbands. The idea relates not to inequality or even rule, but responsibility. God holds the man primarily responsible for the family and will call him to account first. The Christian wife is to give her husband that responsibility.
This does not mean the woman is a slave or a doormat. This does not mean she cannot help earn the money to provide for her family’s needs. It does not mean she cannot have her say. It simply means she honors God’s decision to hold her husband more responsible for the family. This doesn’t mean the man “wears the pants,” if you will, it means he carries the burden of responsibility for the family. That responsibility is made very clear in Ephesians 5:25 where Paul says: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” What woman wouldn’t want a man who loves her in the likeness of Christ?
OK, so I want to move down to v. 24 of our reading:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife,
and they shall become one flesh.” This tells us that marriage is an exclusive union – the forsaking of all others.
Though parents are always to be honored and loved and cared for, the union of the husband and wife must take priority over all other relationships. And all too many marriages get into trouble when one of the marriage partners refuses to put the marriage relationship above all others.
Likewise, we as Christian parents should pray earnestly that God would give us the grace to be a loving in-law such as Naomi, and afford us a loving relationship such as existed between Naomi and Ruth. A marriage is helped and supported by godly in-laws, always ready to help when needed, but mature and loving enough to give their child to the one God has chosen for them.
The command to “hold fast” also applies to any other sexual partner. God’s blessing of the marriage contract has no place for infidelity. In Gal. 5:21 Paul warns that sexual immorality is among those sins that will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God.
Finally, the command to “hold fast” relates to something that is permanent – like Gorilla Glue it is supposed to stick forever. It used to be that all wedding ceremonies included the words; “until death do us part,” and I find it really sad that so many ministers are allowing those words to be removed from the ceremony.
Now, I am not going to deal here with the difficult Biblical issues regarding divorce. I think we are all aware that there are all too many divorces today, but I also know that there are times when divorce, though wrong, may be the lesser of two evils, and therefore justified. I pointed out earlier that marriage is between two imperfect people, trying to create a perfect union.
We all remember the story of David and Bathsheba. To their adultery was added murder, dishonesty and pretense. Their sins came home to roost and David and Bathsheba suffered for the rest of their lives. But God did show his mercy on the matter. Recall that it was through David and Bathsheba’s lineage that Jesus, the Messiah, was born. Divorce is not God’s ideal. Divorce always brings unhappiness and pain. But divorce is not the end of the world nor the end of our service to God.
OK, let’s recap what we have learned about marriage. I began by pointing out the four purposes for marriage: to populate the earth, to avoid loneliness, to satisfy sexual desires, and to build character so as to produce godly children. Next we learned from our reading that marriage is; “the foundation of an honorable and happy society.” Other scripture teaches that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and we also learned that marriage partners should; “not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” We also learned that there are certain roles within the marriage contract – with the most crucial role being that a man should love his wife in a Christlike manner. Finally, we learned that the marriage contract should be bound by the notion of holding fast, cleaving to one another for life.
Any relationship can be difficult, but if the partners are willing to follow these guidelines, then the probability of a happy long-lasting marriage is much more easily attained. And Happy families are vital because as the home goes, so goes the church and the nation.