One of the oldest marriage ceremonies in the English speaking world begins, “Marriage was instituted by God in the time of man’s innocency.” This article attempts to give an exposition of the Scriptures that teach God’s institution of marriage and to remind ourselves that marriage was in the original plan of God and not an afterthought for a fallen world. Marriage is a holy union and would have been an unmixed blessing for humanity if man had never sinned.
There is a vast gulf between human thought and the thoughts of God (Isa 55:8). God has been dismissed from many minds. When the eternal God who created all things is displaced by humanistic philosophy, there are no absolutes, no things that are absolutely right or wrong. When God’s authority is rejected, all authority crumbles. Why are we surprised when so many people who are taught from the earliest grades in school that they have descended from animals behave like animals? The moral chaos in our world, the impurity and violence, can be traced directly to this denial of supreme Authority.
The Word of God reveals that God is absolutely holy: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne” (Psa 89:14, KJV). God said of Abraham “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment (Gen 18:19, KJV). The justice and judgment of a holy God was the rule of Abraham’s house. It is no wonder that when supreme Authority is set aside, all authority is questioned; the authority of the home, school, neighborhood, and nation suffers.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created He them” (Gen 1:26-27, KJV). The “likeness” of man to His Creator is moral. Man was made a pro-creator and stood before God accountable for his own and the behavior of all his descendants.
It is important to understand Genesis 2:23 (KJV). “And Adam 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’.”
In 1 Timothy 2:11 (KJV) Paul wrote “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” Two reasons are given for this divine order in an assembly. (1) “For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (v13), and (2) the woman was first “in the transgression” (v14). Obviously divine order in creation is still God’s order even though mankind is so far removed from it.
The above teaching is secondary to the principle of love as it is seen in Genesis 2:21-24 and Ephesians 5:21-33. “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Gen 2:18, KJV). “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam 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. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” She was taken from near his heart to be loved. Paul’s comment is “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church” (Eph 5:29, KJV). There is nothing that so damages the husband-wife relationship as selfishness.
Genesis 5:2 (KJV) has another lesson for today. “Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” They were one flesh and had one name. It is part of the order of God in creation that a wife is known by the name of her husband.
Subjection to Authority
The modern feminist philosophy scoffs at the thought of the subjection of a woman to a man, but let us remember that husbands are never commanded to keep their wives in subjection. The command is, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph 5:25, KJV). This is called in Ephesians 3:19, “The love of Christ which passeth knowledge.” It is a love that sacrifices self-interest, self-serving, and self-gratification. It is the love that is stronger than death that was displayed at Calvary. The command, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Eph 5:32, KJV) will be a joy to obey when the husband obeys the command to love like this. Subjection is not inferiority. It would be blasphemy to suggest that the subjection of the Son to the Father means that He is inferior (1Cor 11:3). When we think of inferiority, remember that, in many ways, wives are superior to their husbands in their devotion to Christ, to husband, home and family. Oftentimes even in courage and stamina, a wife outshines her husband, and surely in compassion and sympathy. After 50 years of marriage, I can write this from firsthand experience.
In Ephesians 5 and 6 there are five areas of subjection of believers to one another, of wives to husbands, of the church to Christ, of children to parents, and of servants to masters. All of this subjection is Spirit- taught obedience and is a direct result of being filled with the Spirit (5:18).
The subjection of the wife “as unto the Lord” is not only devotion to the Lord Jesus, but it is God’s chosen pattern of the union of Christ and His church: “As the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands” (Eph 5:24, KJV). It is no wonder that when Paul writes, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh;” his heart is filled with adoration, and he adds, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31-32, KJV).
- The spirit of subjection should be seen in all (Eph 5:21).
- Subjection of wives is commanded.
- The Sphere of this subjection – “as unto your own husbands.”
- The Motive – “as unto the Lord.”
- The Purpose – God’s order from creation. Two Reasons in 1 Timothy 2:
(a) Adam first created.
(b) woman first in transgression.
- The Pattern, “As Christ is the Head of the church.”
- The Measure, “As the church is subject to Christ.”
- The Extent, “In everything.”
“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt 19:6, KJV). “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (v23).