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LIFE > Life in the Family > Marriage: Ordained by God 


Marriage is ordained by God; it is His institution. The first book of the Bible provides the details:

And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’ . . . And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:18, 21-24).

Marriage is the oldest institution, extending back to the Garden of Eden. According to the Scriptures God made man and then God made the woman, and subsequently “He brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:22); thus, marriage is ordained by God and was initiated by Him at the time of creation. Properly understood, therefore, marriage is Theistic: it is of God not man.

In marriage the two become one, the “two” being a man and a woman, and the “one” being the relationship that is formed by the two, a relationship that is comprehensive and profound. And for this relationship God has established principles that are to govern it, and by their acceptance and implementation these principles are to enhance the coming together of the two.

Marriage is neither a human invention nor an evolutionary development; its origin resides in the mind of God as part of His plan for the first couple, a man and a woman, and the subsequent couples that would come to populate the earth. Properly understood marriage is of God and is not merely a social contract between two people.

God did not ordain celibacy, a practice with roots in Greek dualism which separates the flesh and the spirit. The Lord declared that it was not good for the man to be alone. From the beginning it was His determination that man and woman live in companionship, not in isolation and loneliness. In the Old Testament even the High Priest married (Lev. 21:13), the Levites married (Num. 6:1-6), and in the New Testament the pastor/elder/bishop is to be the husband of one wife (I Tim. 3:2). And Paul speaks of those in the last days who will give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, and part of their false doctrine is that they forbid couples to marry (I Tim. 4:3). While some may be given the gift of celibacy (I Cor. 7:7), there is never in Scripture a call for abstaining from marriage. Marriage is normal and proper.

In the Old Testament marriage serves as an illustration of the relationship between God and Israel:

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name (Isa. 54:5);

And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Isa. 62:5);

I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness (Jer. 2:2)

 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you” (Jer. 3:14; lit., “I am your husband”; also see: 7:34; 16:9; and 25:10 where judgment is associated with God taking away the sound of the groom and the bride);

. . . in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them (Jer. 31:32);

“And it shall be, in that day,” says the Lord, “that you will call Me, ‘My Husband’ ” (Hos. 2:16);

I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord (Hos. 2:19-20; see: Mal. 2:10-16).

Marriage was dignified by Christ when His first miracle was performed at a wedding (Jo. 2:1-11). He turned the water into wine (see: Drinkers of Wine) so that there would be joy and happiness for the man and woman coming together, and for the friends who were celebrating their union. By His attendance and deed, the Lord bestowed His sanction and blessing on the joining of the groom and bride (see: The Wedding in Cana).

The presence of Jesus at the visible merriment surrounding their consummation reminds us of one of the two fundamental aspects of marriage. Though, in a sense, marriage is private—between a man and a woman who are before God—in another sense, marriage is public with a declaration before others of the relationship that is being established and a recognition by the culture of the covenant that the two have made. Thus, marriage has an inward and an outward expression, one that is both vertical and horizontal.

Furthermore marriage is elevated by the Scriptures because it is used to serve as an illustration of the relationship of Christ to the individual believer and to the Church:

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ (II Cor. 11:2);

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph. 5:25-27; see vs. 22-32);

Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (Rev. 19:7-8; see vs. 6-10 and 21:2, 9).

From Genesis to Revelation marriage is spoken of in Theistic and creational terms; it is always lifted up in importance and practice. It is never demeaned nor made optional, except when a believer does not marry and gives himself fully to the Lord’s work because the Lord has imparted to him the gift to live such a life (I Cor. 7:6-7); rather it is God’s plan for the continuation of the race, as well as for fulfillment and mutual enjoyment by the couple.

Marriage is the building block for human society. It is the basic component in any culture and to the degree that the practice of marriage reflects Biblical teaching to that degree the culture will be properly ordered in this fundamental relationship.

It is to be expected that the union between the husband and wife will be enlarged to include children, a heritage that is God’s doing. And in His Word He has revealed guidelines for the nurturing and disciplining of the children He gives (see: Children: Blessing or Problem? and Discipline of Children).

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