- “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). However, neither is it good for man to engage in short-term relationships that appeal to his flesh but have long term consequences that are harmful and not immediately apparent. Thus marriage is God’s provision for the long-term blessing of man wherein he will find his greatest happiness. It is marriage that sanctifies man’s natural instincts and affections in order that he might also experience God’s greatest blessings of righteousness, peace and joy. Paul writes that because of immoralities each man is to have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. Each has a sexual responsibility to the other, and the conjugal rights of their relationship gives each authority over the other in this regard (1Co 7:2-5, cf. Exo 21:10). The initial allure of marriage for many is that it is the traditional bond that moralizes a sexual relationship, but the purpose of marriage is about much more than just guiltless sex. Marriage is also more than just the closest of monogamous companionships, and a failure to understand these purposes has contributed significantly to the breakdown of marriage in our secular culture as well as within the church.
- The marriage relationship teaches us about the nature of God: From the very beginning of creation, even before man fell into sin, the marriage covenant was ordained by God as the relationship that would teach man about the very nature of God. For of all He created and saw that was good (Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,25) there was one thing He saw that was not good, and that was that man was alone and in need of a helper, meet or suitable for him (Gen 2:18). And so God took from the man to fashion a woman, as Matthew Henry says, not from his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him. And God brought her to the man, not as a separate creation, but as that which is a part of himself, even as Christ is a part of God who came forth from Him. In this way was man created in the image of God, “male and female created He them” (Gen 1:27). And then was His Creation perfect so that God saw all that He had made, and not only was it good, but as the Scripture says, “behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”. And it is “for this reason that a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:23-24). As noted in our previous study, this is the essence of every covenant, that the two become one, and in this way the marriage covenant is a picture of the eternal covenant that binds Christ to God, the covenant that ensured God would not abandon His soul to Hades nor allow His Holy One to undergo decay (Act 2:27, 13:35-37). For this reason the author of Hebrews says that it was through the blood of the eternal covenant that God raised Jesus from the dead (Heb 13:20).
- Marriage teaches us about covenant, which is how God relates to man: As we have begun to see, marriage is the most visible and constant reminder to people of God’s covenants with man, especially the New Covenant / Testament with the Church as the Bride of Christ; see Eph 5:22-27, Rev 19:7-9. In the marriage covenant God joins two to become one, so that the individual lives which the husband and wife had before their marriage passes away and they are no longer their own, but belong to one another. So too when we enter into the New Covenant relationship with Christ we become a new creation; old things pass away, all things become new, and we no longer belong to ourselves but to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us even as He belongs to us because we give ourselves to Him. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song 6:3). These truths should help us begin to understand why marriage has always been such a target of attack by the world forces of darkness.
- Marriage was given for man’s prosperity, safety, comfort, and preservation: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands [the third being God who joins them together] is not quickly torn apart” (Ecc 4:9-12).
- Marriage is a synergistic relationship whose sum is greater than its parts: As in any covenant, the two parties, husband and wife, are stronger and can accomplish much more together than either of them could accomplish separately, even if those two separate parts are taken in sum (such as when a couple simply live together outside of the bonds of marriage). It is important to understand that it is precisely the binding nature of marriage that imparts to it the synergistic effect for the greatest possible blessing. The marriage covenant that cannot be divided asunder is what prevents life’s many crises that afflict our flesh from irreparably destroying the very means by which we are most blessed. Because man’s fallen nature is contrary to God’s, and it is God from whom all blessings flow, man quite often cannot see the long-term blessings of God’s way because of the short-term afflictions he experiences along the way. Although the heavenly “mathematics” of marriage is contrary to man’s understanding and may at times not seem to “add up” (1 + 1 = 1, and 1 + 1 > 2) the marriage covenant is the “glue” that keeps a husband and wife united together for their mutual and long-term blessing. Remember too that such aspects of the marriage covenant also teach us about our new covenant relationship to Christ: “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Act 14:22). “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psa 34:19).
- The marriage relationship is the most visible reminder of God’s divine order, not only to mankind but to all of creation including the angels, many of whom have fallen into rebellion against that order. As Christ “came out from” the Father (Joh 8:42, 13:3, 16:27-28,30, 17:8) but is “one” with Him (Joh 10:30,38, 14:10-11), and the Church issued forth from Christ having been born of His Spirit (Joh 3:5-8, Rom 8:9) to be one with Him (Joh 14:20, 17:21-23), so was woman taken out of man (Gen 2:23) to be one with her husband (Gen 2:24). It is for this reason that as God is the head of Christ and Christ is the head of His Church, so is a husband the head of his wife; see 1Co 11:3. The attacks we see against the roles of men and women in the marriage relationship are a manifestation of the rebellion against God’s headship over all of His creation by the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. When we rebel against those roles for which we were created, we are joining in that rebellion against God’s divine order.
- Marriage Reflects the Creative Power of God: As we have seen, the male-female relationship of the marriage covenant teaches us about the very nature of God: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27). Woman came forth from man and so is a part of him, and is bound to him by the marriage covenant even as Christ came forth from God and so is a part of Him—true God of true God, begotten not made—and is bound to Him by an eternal covenant (Heb 13:20). But much more than this, marriage is the relationship that most closely reflects the relationship between the Father and the Son that gave birth to the created universe. In the same way that the relationship of the Father to the Son is creative (cf. Joh 1:1-3, 1Co 8:6, Col 1:15-16, Pro 8:12-31), as is the relationship of Christ to the Church (cf. Joh 15:4-5,8-16, Rom 7:4), so is the marriage relationship intended to be creative; see 1Co 11:11-12, 1Ti 5:14, Joh 16:21, and compare Pro 9:1-6 with Pro 31:10-31 (esp. Pro 31:15-16,21-22,26); see also Eph 5:31-32. It is in this way especially that marriage is different from other covenants or relationships: its very nature is creative in a way that reflects the creative nature of God in a way that no other covenant can. This characteristic of marriage is rooted in man’s creation as male and female and the very nature of God and the Godhead, and it is this characteristic that distinguishes true marriage from anything else that men might call marriage. Two men or two women may make a covenant, but they cannot make a marriage, because it will never be creative in same way that true marriage is, that reflects the image of God in which man was created male and female.
- Marriage is God’s Provision for the Increase and Propagation of Mankind: Children are God’s first and greatest blessing to man that make him rich in true riches; see Gen 1:27-28, Psa 127:3-5, 128:1-4. The marriage covenant is the synergistic relationship that secures the safe and stable environment for children to grow up and thrive in so that they are the blessing they are intended to be and not a curse; think: what is a “little bastard” and why is it a derogatory term?
- Marriage was ordained for the general welfare of human society and civilization: Like the individual parts that compose a human body, the families that are formed by the marriage covenant are the basic building blocks of cities, states and nations that can only be as strong as the families that compose them. As Balaam understood, a nation that is in covenant with God and obeys His commandments will be blessed by God and cannot be cursed. Thus, in order for them to be cursed, they must be led into sin so that God Himself will act in judgment against them; see Rev 2:14, Num 31:16. To weaken a nation, weaken the families that compose it by weakening marriage: attack the unique roles for which men and women were created in the image of God by appealing to the lusts of their own fallen nature and fomenting rebellion against that which He has ordained for their welfare. This is exactly what has been and is happening in America today.
1. “Came from” and “came forth from” in these passages from John are literally “came out from” similar to the way that woman was taken out of man.↩
2. It is also for this reason “because of the angels” that a woman is to have “authority on her head” when the Church is gathered for public worship; 1Co 11:4-10.↩
3. Notice that “friends” in this passage is a covenant term.↩
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