Beginning in the 20th century and continuing into the present, the concept of marriage and family has been redefined, maligned, and finally consigned to the scrap bin of history, an obsolete and outdated societal structure which has only perpetuated male dominance in our culture. With that rather lengthy initial sentence (with which my High School English teacher would not be happy), allow me to introduce you to the subject which graces the heading of this page.
It was with trepidation and reserve that I put finger to keyboard to write on this vital subject. Having spoken on these themes and even having attempted some writing, the need for freshness is a huge challenge, especially as millions of my gray cells are dying each day. But, venturing to look at the subject once again from a scriptural viewpoint, please note the following.
Society’s war on marriage and family is, in reality, a war against God. It is a battle carefully orchestrated by Satan in an attempt to remove all of God’s fingerprints from His creation. Evolution was his first line of attack; then he moved in his troops to take on and destroy marriage and the family structure; his most recent offensive has involved some of his heaviest artillery as he has battled to confuse birth gender with emotions. In the beginning, they say, God made them male and female and other. Really? Satan has been, one might say, quite successful. He has won some formidable battles, but he will not win the war!
Are marriage and family life merely evolutionary adaptions which served their purpose to previous generations? Now that we are far more intelligent and liberated from the past (the height of chronological snobbery!), are they no longer functional or necessary? Or is the origin of marriage something which is totally independent of human ingenuity and adaptation? From whence did marriage spring?
God’s Interest in His Creation
Genesis 1 and 2 reveal to us God’s interest and care for His creation and His creatures. A ready-made world, a freshly planted garden, a perfectly tuned universe – all was provided for Adam. God gave him a tremendous head start. His role in creation provided him with needed significance; the fruit of his daily care in the garden provided him a sense of satisfaction. Ultimately, His fellowship with God provided him the security and spiritual intimacy he needed.
God, however, saw one thing lacking. Having been made in the image of God, Adam was made a relational creature. Prior to the formation of the woman, all of Adam’s relationships were vertical. He needed a horizontal relationship to develop as God intended. Only in relationships, both vertical and horizontal, could he reach his highest potential. God wanted the very best for Adam.
Declaring that Adam’s lack of a help suitable for him was not good (Gen 2:18), God provided a woman to be by his side. Now with creation beneath him, God above him, and a woman by his side, Adam was primed for the growth and development God intended for him. Lest any think that Eve was somehow placed in a minor role as a mere “helper” to make Adam all he could be, the woman, as we will see in a future article, was placed in a crucial position. Linked with Adam’s “success” would be the elevation of the woman to her highest level of spiritual beauty and usefulness.
God brought the woman to Adam (Gen 2:22). God created one man and made one woman for that man. In bringing her to Adam, he instituted marriage. He was the sole guest, officiant and witness. He solemnized it with His blessing. His message at this marriage ceremony is given to us in Genesis 2:24. In only twenty-two words in our A.V., God declared for all time His intention for a married couple. Some might object and say that all this was before the Fall and is not really workable in our day. To answer this cavil, one does not have to travel far.
Consider first that, when God pronounced the words of Genesis 2:24, the only man who ever lived who had no mother or father to leave was Adam. There is a sense in which these words were not relevant to Adam; the Lord was declaring them for all future marriages.
Second, they are repeated by both the Lord Jesus (Mat 19:5) and the Apostle Paul (Eph 5:31). So, there can be little argument that they are meant as a guide for marriage as God intended it. Notice that the words spoken by God in the Garden indicate the priority of the marriage bond (leave all), the security of the bond (cleave), the permanency of it (leave and cleave), and the intimacy which is to mark it (one flesh). This is the pattern for marriage as God intended. God ordained marriage and dictated its terms in Genesis 2.
God’s Instruction to His Creation
But we must ultimately come to the great design and object lesson which God had in His mind eternally. While God had a concern for Adam and his lack of companionship, there was something bigger in God’s mind. God, in love for His Son, desired someone to enjoy all He has eternally enjoyed in that Son. His desire was a bride for Him, to share His glory and to know the intimacy of His heart. So wondrous is this relationship, so profound its oneness and joy, that God provided a hands-on, earthly model from which we could learn. That earthly model is your marriage and mine. We have to confess that we do not mirror that heavenly relationship as we should. In truth, every human marriage is, at best, a flawed reproduction of the “original.” Yet, human marriage does provide a window into that which is the flawless prototype. Ephesians 5, Paul’s longest and most detailed discussion on marriage, tells us that this “Mystery is great” (5:32).
As we proceed through these articles, we will see that every human relationship is patterned after a spiritual relationship; these afford both insight into the spiritual as well as preparation and a pattern for the earthly. Father-child relationships are to teach us of the quintessential Father and His love for His children. Sibling relationships are to mirror spiritual relationships and also to prepare us for those day-to-day encounters with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As stewards of the truth of God, we cannot allow any compromise on the pattern God has given as to marriage and family life. We must resist the natural tendency for society’s values to infiltrate our thinking. Far too much is at stake: nothing less than marring the sublime picture of Christ and His Bride.
One final caution: we often speak of Christian marriage. In truth, there is no such thing. Two Christians may marry, but marriage is creational and not something with special guidelines only for Christians. God’s pattern for marriage is for the good of society and the blessing of His creatures. It is “the grace of life” (1Pe 3:7).