Marriage is not a fad. In fact, marriage is the oldest earthly institution. It didn't come as a result of tradition. The Church didn't invent it. Nor is it something reserved for conservative Christians. Marriage was established and designed by God, the Sovereign Lord and Creator of heaven and earth. Regardless of what society says with regards to marriage, the Word of God clearly states, “Let marriage be held in honor among all” (Heb. 13:14). For this reason, marriage is something worth making much of. In-order to do this we need to define marriage and understand what it is for. We will do this by considering the Blueprint of Marriage and then the Blessings of Marriage as revealed by the authoritative Word of God.
1. THE BLUEPRINT OF MARRIAGE
What is marriage? From the earliest chapters of Scripture along with others we learn that marriage was created and instituted by God. Marriage became a part of this world by means of Divine design and definition. Scripture is clear that it was between a man and a woman in covenant faithfulness to each other.
The opening chapters of the Bible give the record of the first marriage in history (Gen. 1 & 2). This was the wedding between one man and one woman. Before this union occurred, it is helpful to consider the events leading up to this exciting event. God made Adam (the first man in history) on the sixth day and declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). After this the Lord brought land animals and the birds that He created to Adam to name them. Of course, none of these were suitable to be “a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:20), so the Lord caused Adam to sleep and from his side created the first woman (Gen. 2:21-22). God presented the woman to the man, and needless to say, the man was impressed! They then joined in marital union.
This first act of marital union was not intended to be the first so that there may be a further population, thus allowing for other forms of union later on (fornication, adultery, polygamy, homosexuality etc.). Instead, this first marriage provided the Divine standard and pattern for marital union and human flourishing. As a result of Adam and Eve coming together we read, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). The pattern is simple – a man (male) will leave the confines of parental authority (again male and female) and cleave to his wife (female) and thus become one flesh. This creation ordinance was also affirmed in the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 19:5) and Paul (1 Cor. 6:16 and Eph. 5:31). These passages indicate an affirmation of the continuance of this Divine design of marital union. That is the blueprint of marriage and the first reason why marriage matters.
2. THE BLESSINGS OF MARRIAGE
The second reason why marriage matters is because of the blessings that are enjoyed and intended in the Divine design. These benefits are of a spiritual, sexual, and social nature. Here are three blessings of marriage: pleasure, procreation, and partnership. Then we will learn how these are a picture of something bigger.
Pleasure is an intended part of marriage. This pleasure is experienced when one delights in their spouse. God created the gift of physical pleasure for both husband and wife to enjoy with each other. The husband’s passion is expressed by these words, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love (Proverbs 5:18-19). And the pleasure of a wife is captured with these words, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine” (Song of Solomon 1:2).
The sexual pleasure enjoyed in the martial bond is to be characterized by faithfulness and frequency. By faithfulness I mean that it is to be enjoyed exclusively by the married couple. This means they are to guard themselves from sexual sins that attack the beauty of marital pleasure (pornography, a wandering eye, adultery, and other sexual sins). And by frequency I mean that the couple is give themselves to each other with willingly regularity and to not deprive one another (cf. 1 Cor. 7:3-5). Of course each person must be considerate and seek the highest good of the other given the circumstances. It is interesting that the entire book of Song of Solomon, which focuses on the theme of marriage, doesn’t say anything about children, but highlights the God ordained pleasure in marital union between a husband and a wife.
The second blessing of the marital union is procreation. After the Lord brought Adam and Eve together in marital union, He blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). It was essential that if this mandate of procreation was to be fulfilled, Adam needed a wife and Eve needed a husband. The Lord provided the gift of sexual relations within the confines of marital union to be a means, in addition to pleasure, leading to progeny. God’s intention is for married couples to be open to the blessing of receiving children. But they are not to have children for the sake of having children. They are to have them with the view of training and instructing them in the way of the Lord (cf. Eph. 6:4). Not all couples will have the same amount of children and some couples will not be able to have children. But if a couple does have children, they are to be received as “a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).
When God brought Adam and Eve together in marriage He made them together as one flesh. Together they entered an enterprise in which they would be partners in living life together for the glory of God. This particular partnership would include pleasure and procreation, but it would also extend to other activities of life in which they would achieve and accomplish things for the good of each other. God created Eve to be “a helper fit for” Adam (Genesis 2:18). In God’s wisdom and design, He made the husband and the wife, who are equal in value, to have different roles of function in this relationship. The husband was to lead and love his wife, and the wife was to help and submit to her husband (cf. Eph. 5:22-33). God’s design of different roles goes beyond what could be classed as a cultural custom. The reason is because it is a description based on God’s created order (Gen. 2:18; 1 Tim. 2:13-14).
These three blessings of marriage are thrilling and exciting. But as wonderful as they are, they are actually an illustration and picture of something far bigger. God didn’t create marriage simply because He thought it would be a good idea, though it is certainly is a good idea! He created it so as to be an illustration or picture of the greatest relationship ever to be experienced – and that is the relationship between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph. 5:22-33). The Bible begins with the first wedding (Genesis 1-2) and it ends with the last wedding (Revelation 19-22), the bookends of the Bible. However, the last wedding is the ultimate wedding. This is what the beautiful earthly experience was picturing. All humanity is sinful and deserves the just judgment of God. But by God’s grace, Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. All who trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins enter into the greatest relationship ever. Though we were stained by our sin, the Bride of Christ clothed in the righteousness of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:8-9), will one day be presented to Him as pure, and will then reign with Him for eternity. This is good news!
Christian marriages are to be a picture of Christ and His Church. God joins a husband and wife together in marital union, which then becomes an enterprise for the glory of God. The institution of marriage is a wonderful creative act of God. Marriage is something that God has established and designed. The Church didn’t invent it, nor is it something reserved for conservative Christians. Also, marriage is not something society or government has any right to redefine. Marriage is an institution that God has ordained and is grounded in creational order. Society may offer a re-definition, but this is a mirage and not marriage. Marriage was made to be between a male and a female in covenant faithfulness. For this reason, God views marriage as important and precious.
Does marriage matter? From the earliest chapters of Scripture, along with others, we learn that marriage was created and instituted by God in creation. It was between a man and a woman with the blessings of pleasure (Proverbs 5:18-19), procreation (Gen. 1:28), and partnership (Gen. 2:18), with the ultimate view of picturing the greatest relationship to ever be had, and that is Christ and the Church. The Bible is clear that marriage is an exclusion of same-sex union or any other form of relationship outside of the clear parameters set by Scripture. God designed marriage, His Word describes marriage, and the people of God ought to defend marriage. As the people of God, we are not to respond to differences with hostility, but with humility and holiness. The union between a man and woman in marriage is not to be viewed as just another type of human relationship. It is to be seen as something that God designed and defined. Therefore there is a true dignity to marriage.
Regardless of the numerous attacks society and sinful behaviour brings against marriage, marriage remains a God ordained initiative and institution. When practiced according to His blueprint (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7), the couple will experience the beautiful sexual, social, and spiritual benefits. This will bring great glory to God and good to the couple, and even society. Marriage, as defined by the Word of God is something worth making much of! Praise God for it and celebrate it. The best way to do this is to live out a marriage with all our passion and energy to the glory of God, and then point people to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Regardless of who you are, you too can be forgiven of your sin and receive the blessing of eternal salvation. This is found exclusively in Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life (cf. John 14:6). I close with the words from the writer to the Hebrews,
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13:4).
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