As cultural shifts go, there have been few as radical as the “redefinition of marriage.” Marriage has become a casualty in man’s desire to redraw divine boundaries and rebel against divine institutions.
As Creator, God has authority over His creation. He also knows what is best for His creatures. The boundaries He draws and the institutions He establishes are for the good of those whom He has lovingly created.
Rejection of God’s authority ends in disaster. All suffering, shame, pain, guilt, sickness, sorrow and death can be traced back to this. It is wise, therefore, for Christians to seek to understand God’s Word, with a view to obeying it, in all subjects.
When the Lord Jesus was challenged about marriage, He referred His questioners back to “the beginning” (Mat 19:8; Mar 10:6). This indicates that God’s original design for marriage remains relevant today. Whatever the unique problems of a particular case, God’s ideal for marriage has been clearly revealed at its institution. Let us, therefore, see what marriage, as designed by the Creator, should be.
Scripture reveals a number of purposes for marriage, as follows:
In Genesis 2:18, the foundational purpose for marriage is given: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.” God perceived a need in creation. One man was never intended to remain without other human beings for social intercourse. God therefore commenced the first step towards building family and building society – marriage.
Marriage is intended for companionship. This should encourage husbands and wives to spend time together. Lonely husbands and lonely wives don’t properly reflect God’s original intent.
While some people do not need to marry (1Co 7:7-9), the Bible nowhere suggests that these do not require companionship. Marriage is not just about one man and one woman enjoying each other’s companionship; it is also about the stable foundation of family life and of society. The multiplication of the human family became possible when God provided a wife for Adam. Therefore, some people find companionship in marriage but all should find it through marriage. Marriage is God’s intended means for the increase of the human race.
In Genesis 1, God instructed that man “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (v28). One purpose for marriage is multiplication. This command was repeated after the flood (Gen 9:1). God’s ideal for the birth of children is that they be born within the safe atmosphere of a loving home, founded upon the stable foundation of marriage.
A third reason for marriage is a result of the Fall. Some asked the apostle Paul whether it was better for a man to remain single or get married. His answer was that while there was nothing wrong with remaining single, yet because of the real danger of moral failure, each man should “have his own wife,” and each woman should “have her own husband” (1Co 7:2).
It is “better to marry than to burn” (7:9). While some don’t marry until they can fund a preferred standard of living, it is better to do without many extras in life, and maintain your moral character, than to wait too long to marry. For those whose constitution involves a constant battle with lust, and temptation in the area of sex, it is far better to marry.
Genesis 2 continues: “I will make him an help meet for him” (v18). Marriage was God’s idea. It is not a social construct; it is a divine institution. Because this is so, redefining marriage is not within man’s remit. If there ever was a time in history when marriage could have been redefined, it was when the Lord Jesus was asked about it. However, His response was to go back to the beginning. We must do the same.
God’s plan was to make for Adam a “help meet for him.” God’s answer to Adam’s aloneness was to provide a help who corresponded to him.
Adam’s partner could not be found among the animals, for none corresponded to him. Man’s partner must be supplied by God through an act of special creation. So, the LORD God “caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept” (v21). Then he took a rib from Adam and made “a woman, and brought her to the man” (v22).
Adam was put to sleep to show that God alone bore the responsibility of selecting a marriage partner. This is not indicating that a man should not choose his wife, but that God has decreed that the wife for any man must be a woman. A man has freedom of choice as to whom he marries, but that freedom is within clearly defined boundaries.
Finally, God’s choice was accepted. “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (v23). The removal of a rib, followed by the presentation of a wife, is a parable of the relationship between a husband and his wife. He is incomplete without her, and completed by her.
Moses adds a footnote: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (v24). This is the inspired summary of marriage as God intends it. The Lord, when challenged, cited this and continued with the application: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mat 19:6). The one flesh relationship is a union made by God – one He intends to be permanent. The physical intimacy of husband and wife within marriage expresses this oneness.
God intends marriage to reflect the union between Christ and His Church. “This is a great mystery,” wrote Paul, “but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph 5:32). This picture will repay devoted study. Adam represents the Lord Jesus, and Eve represents the Church. Adam is put to sleep and, as a result, has a bride. So the Lord Jesus died at Calvary, and the fruit of His death is His bride, the Church.
The oneness between Christ and His Church is also emphasised: “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (v30). The Church is described as “his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (1:23).
Marriage as God intended it should be honoured. It reflects, in the physical realm, the most glorious of spiritual relationships.
God’s ideal for marriage is revealed at its institution in Genesis 2. Although we live in a fallen world, we should strive to reflect God’s original intent in our marriages. However, we cannot be blind to the reality of life around us and the many imperfect circumstances sin has created. Wisdom must therefore be gleaned from all of Scripture so that we apply God’s truth in harmony with His good and gracious character.
 All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.