Thursday, July 23, 2020

What is Christian Marriage?

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife" (Ephesians 5:31a).

Ephesians 5 brings us to Paul’s advice to husbands and wives regarding life in the unity of marriage. With this in mind, we are now going to take six days to consider the biblical doctrine of marriage.

In Genesis 2:18, we find to our surprise that God says something in His creation is not good. In Genesis 1 everything was good, but Genesis 2 takes us back into the middle of the sixth day, and we find that it is “not good” for the man to be alone. God ordained marriage between man and woman to remedy this situation. We notice that neither animals nor another man were given to Adam as the suitable helper, and we notice that Adam is to “cleave” to his wife (Genesis 2:24). Thus, monogamous heterosexual marriage was what God ordained in the beginning.

It became common during the late 1960s and the 1970s for couples to write their own wedding vows. Sometimes these were well done, and sometimes not so well done, but they were always vows. Usually the couples at least imitated the traditional wedding vows of the church, and in recent years we have seen couples returning to the more traditional vows because of their great dignity and beauty.

Marriage is a covenant, a vow. In the Bible, covenants are never private. It is one thing for a young man to whisper promises to a young woman in a private romantic setting; it is quite another to pledge a vow publicly in front of witnesses. The public nature of the covenant forces the couple to face the full responsibility of marriage.

We need for our marriages to be public, because marriage is one of the most dangerous institutions in human life. A husband and wife can hurt each other more than anyone else can because they are more vulnerable to each other than they are to anyone else. We need a strong commitment to keep our marriages going sometimes, and the public nature of the marriage vow, together with the expectations of society around us, helps us through these rough times.

But primarily, the public covenant of marriage is needed because, as we have seen, marriage is ordained by God. It is God who joined Adam and Eve together, and it is God who performs the marriage of every Christian couple.

Bringing God into the picture at the beginning will serve as a reminder to us when we have rough times that it is God who creates, sustains, and also heals marriage. If you have never asked God into your marriage, do so now. If you are having trouble, ask Him to help you and show you the way.