The institution of marriage was established and ordained by God. It is neither a human construct nor a product of evolutionary development. The origin of marriage is found in the first book of the Old Testament – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24-25) and metaphorically closes out the last book of the New Testament – “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). Simple put, marriage emanates from God’s mind and is part of His plan for the first couple, a man and a woman, and the subsequent couples that would perpetuate the human population on the earth.
More Than a Feeling and a Contract
As discussed in a previous post, Marriage – Desires of the Heart (2/15/13), human heart desires and expectations play a role in our modern institution of marriage. But it is certainly more than our physical and emotional wants and dreams. Contrary to modern social trends, marriage is not a mere social contract between two people. It is a union of a man and a woman, sexually consummated, and symbolized as holy like God’s ultimate union with His Church.
One will not find any evidence or authoritative word or guidance around human marriage outside of Biblical scripture. Cultural variations and deviations from the original definition over human history do not detract from God’s original establishment of monogamy. Even Biblically cited practices of polygamy and concubinage among the Hebrews does not override God’s original intent. As these practices existed among the Hebrews before the receipt of the Law, in mercy God protected the rights of both wives and concubines. (Exodus 21:7-11; Deuteronomy 21:14-17). God did not establish these arrangements but only allowed and regulated them.
Jesus and Marriage
God did not restore the original standard of monogamy as he had established it in the Garden of Eden until the appearance of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. When questioned by Pharisees regarding divorce, Jesus specifically cites Genesis 1 and 2 as the basis for the concept of marriage in the passage below from the books of Matthew (19:4-6) and Mark (2:2-9):
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”
There are numerous teachings on the God ordained institution of marriage throughout the scriptures, many from the New Testament and some wise comments in Proverbs:
- Marital tension as a result of Adam and Eve’s punishment (Genesis 3:16-18)
- Man should have one wife (1 Corinthians 7:2)
- Husband and wife should give themselves to each other (I Corinthians 7:3-6)
- Men and women are not independent of each other. All are from God (1 Cor.11:11-12
- A good wife is the crown of her husband (Proverbs 12:4)
- Marriage is an honorable estate (Hebrews 13:4)
- Christians should not be “unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
- Husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:19)
- Husbands love wife as yourself; wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33)
- Finding a wife is a good thing (Proverbs 18:22)
- Live considerately with her (1 Peter 3:7)
- Be faithful to her (Malachi 2:14, 15, Proverbs 5:19)
- Live with her for life (Matthew 19:3-9)
Holy God or Fallible Man?
Holy matrimony was created by Holy God not for ceremony but for His design and purpose. We mess with it out of our own ignorance, selfishness, defiance, disobedience and/or baseness – all at our own peril. Dare not justify our own sin and misunderstanding, but come in submission and repentance to a loving, forgiving and wise God who is superior to foolish and fallible man.
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” – Hebrews 13:4