Contemporary society has redefined marriage. The courts and the media have decided to jettison the traditional and archaic and redefine it in terms of modern society with all of its needs and enlightenment. God is not impressed; His Word handled the matter quite satisfactorily six millennia ago and has not changed. Genesis 2 affords deeper insights than what may at first be appreciated.
What is a marriage? When does a marriage union occur? Is a ceremony necessary or is it enough that two people be “in love”? Is there anything in Genesis 2 which shows that pre-marital intimacy is wrong? Is headship simply the result of the fall? These and a host of other questions which have been raised and answered in anti-Scriptural ways all find their Biblical answers in the seed plot of Genesis 2.
The Treasure Which Marriage Is
Consider first that the very first relationship which man enjoyed, after his relationship with his Creator, was that of a wife. Prior to friendships, business acquaintances, siblings, or others, he related to a woman as his wife. Some may cavil and say that this was required before others could exist and other relationships begin. But God has chosen to make this the primal relationship to underline its special nature. It is the foundation of a society.
God intends for every spouse to recognize the value of a marriage and to treasure it, nurture it, and see it develop into all He intended it to be.
The Teaching about What Marriage Is
When God decreed that it was not good for man to be alone, what did He do for him? He did not make another man. He did not even make several women. He made a woman for Adam. One man and one woman – God’s definition of a marriage. God made man for woman, and woman for man. There were no “spare” women for Adam to move amongst. As well, God brought the woman to the man, serving as the one Who introduced them and intended for them to be united (Gen 2:22).
The word of God does not sanction a marriage between the same gender.
The Timing of Marriage
When does marriage actually occur? Notice what occurs in Genesis 2:22, 23. God presented Eve to Adam. Adam made a declaration of intent that he intended a one-flesh relationship (v 23). God was the audience, a public declaration of intent to unite was made, and God sealed the first union. Marriage ceremonies vary in different cultures. Yet there are these basic premises in virtually all: a public declaration in the sight of witnesses of an intention to be joined together and to become husband and wife, with all the commitment which that entails.
In Malachi 2:14, a wife is referred to as the “wife of thy covenant.” The marriage vows were viewed by God as a covenant into which the man and woman entered. As such, it was binding and demanding on each. It is never a contract with mutual responsibilities and escape clauses. It is a covenant with uni-directional obligations.
The Time Marriage Occurs
When should a couple marry? The words of verse 24 are insightful here: “for this cause shall a man leave … ” A couple should not marry until a man is able to make a public commitment to leave every other relationship and to cleave to his wife. If he still needs his time out with the “boys,” the support and nurturing of his parents, the financial support of others, he is not ready to “leave” and to cleave.
Proverbs 24:27 teaches, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine own house.” The wisdom of Solomon is that a man first have the ability to provide for the building of his house before he begins the building. There should be the ability to financially care for a wife and all that is involved in establishing a new family unit.
The Truths about Marriage
Notice the order God intended: Leave, cleave, one flesh. Any aberration of that order is a violation of God’s plan and an affront to God’s wisdom. To make the “one flesh” precede the leaving and cleaving is to violate divine standards of holiness. It also invites emotional damage. Modern society has actually inverted and truncated the process to “one-flesh” and then leaving.
The Transparency Intended in Marriage
Genesis 2 ends on one of the most beautiful but also most searching notes: “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.” In this pristine stage of innocency, before sin entered, there was absolute transparency between husband and wife. There was nothing to hide, nothing of which to be ashamed. Openness, honesty, and transparency marked this first union.
Each was intended, as well, to be a help to the other. The woman was made to be a help-meet for Adam. He, as her head, was to see to her welfare and blessing. His headship is underlined by the fact that he named the animals, he named her, and to him was given the communication from God. As head, cleaving to his wife, he was responsible to meet her every need and to cherish and nourish her.
God’s definition of marriage has not changed; His purpose and pattern for marriage have also remained unshaken by modern ideas. Here then is the standard for marriage that Genesis 2 establishes as we begin our exploration through future articles of the Scriptural concept of marriage.