The Bible is literally honeycombed with instructions concerning marriage. This is only what one might expect from such a book regarding a matter which universally, keenly and deeply affects the whole human race and touches on the most powerful springs of human life and action.
Indeed, any book which professed to give an account of the origin, purpose, regulation and destiny of mankind would not be complete if it did not make known the will of God on this subject. Let us now move back to that first wedding and get a look at the scene.
A Look at the Scene
1. God made them different. Man is first of all different from the brute—the animal kingdom. He is different in his power of intelligent comprehension. He is different in his sensibility and appropriate intellectual feelings. He is different in that he possesses a moral sense of what is right and wrong. He is different in his power of intelligent choice. In dominion, he has control over all the animal kingdom. This is his “colonist’s charter.” Moreover he possesses a spiritual nature. But there are essential differences in the sexes.
This does not mean that woman is inferior to man. Man may have, on the whole, greater physical strength and endurance; but she has a finer grain of character. The viewpoints of both sexes are often dissimilar. God made them different and the differences are complementary to each other. The wisdom of the Creator is seen in the design of these different creatures, man and woman. The Scriptures bear evidence of these differences and take them into account.
“Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers not be hindered (1 Pet. 3:7). In the next place we learn…
2. God made them for each other. Jehovah created man alone. Man was left in the lonely condition for some period of time—which is not clearly defined as to length—and Jehovah said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18).
It is not necessary here to suppose that God changed His plans, or discovered by experiment, as human beings do, that His original design was not perfect. The whole process of creation was progressive. It was especially a system of development from one stage to another.
Woman was created and given to man. Upon receiving her, man 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” (Gen. 2:23). In presenting her to man, and ordaining the marriage relation, Jehovah said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).
Let us remember that woman was made from man’s side; not from his head to rule over him, nor from his feet to be his slave, but from his side, nearest his heart, to be his companion, his helper, and his inspiration. Paul said, “let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).
3. He made them a model for all humanity. When He created woman and gave her to man, Jehovah said, “they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This was said in ordaining marriage. This is marriage. The two became one—a new one. Neither were the old “ones” but a “new one,” formed by the union of body, mind, and spirit—a blending of two personalities into one.
Jesus taught that, according to God’s original plan of marriage, the husband and wife are joined together for life and should not be put asunder by man. This is still the Biblical model, the ideal, and the correct one for all time. Jesus did not say much about marriage, but what He said was very much to the point. He pointed out that in heaven, people neither marry nor are given in marriage (Matt. 22:23-30)—that marriage is a relationship of this earth only.
The only other things the Saviour said about marriage is his quotation of this original ceremony in the Garden of Eden, with one significant addition that is now a part of many ceremonies —“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” There was no provision in that plan for dissolution of the marriage except by death. Jesus did not change that.
There is absolutely no place in God’s plan for polygamy, trial marriage, or any kind of sexual relationship outside of marriage. Such practices are abominable in the sight of God. They degrade and have a tendency to completely destroy the holy relationship of marriage.
There are only two words in the vocabulary of love. They are you and always. You because love is unique, and always because love is timeless. No one ever said, “I will love you for two years and six months.”
The Purpose Of Marriage
1. It is for companionship. Jehovah said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18). It takes a marriage partner to round out ones life and make it complete. This is the social aspect of life. Mark’s gospel reads, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh; so that they are no more two, but one flesh” (Mark 10:7-8).
Writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul said, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25-26). In verse 28, we read, “So ought husbands to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” What a marvelous truth! This is the cement, the mortar, that holds two people together in the most joyous relationship in all of life.
Marriage is for the perpetuation of the race. This is the biological aspect of marriage. This is the order in which God created the race of man: “Male and female created he them. And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:27-28).
2. It is the positive and emphatic assertion of the Bible that the union of the sexes in marriage, with the command to be fruitful and multiply, is Gods own ordinance, and one which was given to them as a good thing, a needful thing, and a blessed thing. It should be further observed that these statements are clear, universal, and permanent. They express fundamental principles which are of vital interest and importance to all mankind. They belong to the race of man. On this injunction, the race has been perpetuated.
It is a trite—but true—statement that the home is the basic unit of society. The history of mankind bears unmistakable evidence that the home and family determine the character of any civilization and the power of any nation. The sanctity of home life has ever been the safeguard of the family. We must ever keep this relationship intact and for the purposes God intended.
The privilege of bringing children into the world is denied the unmarried. To them, the very act necessary to accomplish this is sin. To the married it is a high privilege and a duty—where it is not impossible or altogether inexpedient. And a home is never as happy and secure without children as with them.
3. To prevent immorality. Paul said, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:1-2). We learn that whoremongers and adulterers are condemned to the lake of fire. “But the fearful and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
But in marriage, we escape the horrible sin of immorality. The Hebrew writer said, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).
The whole teaching and commandment of Jehovah in the matter of marriage is that its a lifetime contract with all its attendant blessings, joys, and responsibilities which are mutual in their enforcement. When one chooses a husband or wife, according to Gods law, it is a choice for life, until the hand of death severs the relationship.
Husband and wife are joined in marriage for life, and neither can put this asunder except at the peril of his own soul. Therefore, any second union while both parties are alive is adultery and not “true marriage,” if the exception Jesus gave in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 does not prevail. It is clear that in the mind of God marriage cannot be dissolved except for fornication, and the state cannot put asunder that which God has joined.
The state, or human laws, cannot grant the liberty of divorce with the right to remarry for any cause without running counter to the will of God. No one can follow human laws of divorce and enter into a marriage union without defying God and rebelling against the basic principle in the marriage relationship. Let us invoke the blessings of God upon every union where Christ can be honored, and where husband and wife may loyally obey Him as their Lord and Master.