Marriage Defined – Part 1
Bible is the Maker’s manual for happy living. (Bible is the Maker’s Manuel for a holy married life) But man has no desire and time to read it so he is living in sorrow and pain. Some are like the Jews during the days of Jesus Christ. They start reading from anywhere and get confused. For instance, on marriage they start reading from Deut. 24:1-4, but our Lord Jesus began “from the beginning” (Mat.19: 8) to expel their confusion. Let’s go back to the beginning to understand the mind of Christ on this matter of marriage. The key passage on the subject of marriage in the Bible is Gen 2:18-25 and is partially quoted by the New Testament writers at least four times (Mat.19:5; Mk10:7; Ep.5:31; 1Cor.6:16).
2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
2:21 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;
2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
2:23 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.
2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
God the creator carefully examined the wonder of His works and commented “good, good…’ Seven times he attested his own work.The seventh one was an emphatic ‘very good’. But in the end, he noted one thing that was not good: the solitary and lonely life of man. He expected man to experience that life’s good (LG). God sent all the animals before him and he named them, as the first taxonomist. Perhaps, this only increased his loneliness and he might have commented, “Everything has its partner, but I have no partner.” Here, God was preparing man to develop a desire for a companion.
Then came God’s final masterstroke, Eve. God formed woman out of the man’s rib and ‘brought her to the man’; both God and Eve walked together to Adam. Like Adam, Eve also saw God first in her life. Two individuals who had met God in their life came together for holy matrimony. This is the beauty and success of Christian marriage. He became poetic at the sight of Eve. Probably he might have introduced himself, “Madam, I am Adam”. Then he recited this poem,
“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 his excitement, Adam discovered many facts about her and called her woman. A Helper fit for him.
God resolved to make a partner to meet the needs of man. The English translation of Gen 2:18, is not giving the original sense of the words. In Hebrew there are two rather short words. The first word is ‘ezer’which means a helper.This is used of God about 19 times. This expels the misunderstanding that God created woman for an inferior job. On the contrary, He created her for a superior assignment, to perform a divinely ordained duty.
The second Hebrew word in verse 18 is ‘kenegdo’, a composite word. The initial ‘ke’ means ‘according to’ and adds the thought of correspondence, of meeting the man and his needs precisely. ‘Negdo’ means ‘opposite him’, ‘over against him’ and points to the fact that God created woman different from man, complementary to him and as a counterpart. How beautiful is the Biblical expression of a woman. This realization of the difference between man and woman is very important for a successful married life.
She is not same as man hence Peter exhorts husbands to dwell with their wife in understanding (1Pet.3:7).
When Adam saw Eve he understood three things about her.
- She is similar to him ‘my bone and flesh’ – both are human beings i.e. they belong to the same family.
- She is feminine and he is masculine (verse 23. In Hebrew ‘This’ is used 3 times; first and last words also in the middle. Used the feminine form of ‘This’)
- He named her differently yet like him (Hebrew ‘iss’ means Man and ‘issah’ means Woman) In short, he understood she is his ‘counterpart’ and God made her to meet his needs.
Adam weds Eve
God made Adam and Eve on the sixth day. On the seventh day i.e. on Saturday God rested from his labour. So the marriage of Adam and Eve took place in the beautiful Garden of Eden on a Friday evening. God the almighty Himself solemnized the wedding. All the heavenly hosts might have witnessed that event. The angelic choir might have sung melodious songs during the marriage ceremony (Rev.19:4- 8; Job.38:7). Immediately after the marriage they entered into God’s rest, the Sabbath day for a time of praise and worship.
Gen 2:18-25 narrates primarily the wedding of Adam and Eve and yet it describes God’s design of marriage for all humanity. He shall leave his father and mother is not applicable to Adam. So we can safely say that these verses describe God’s plan and purpose of Marriage.
- Marriage is a human relationship. Adam could not find a help meet for him from among the animals. When he saw Eve he said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”. That means she is a human being like him.
- Marriage is a heterosexual relationship. God made a woman and brought to the man. It is man and woman relationship; not a man and man or woman and woman relationship.
- Marriage is a non-incestuous relationship. Man has to leave his father and mother to find a wife. Genetically he should leave his parents to find a wife. In other words, he should not marry close blood relatives.
- Marriage is a non adulterous relationship. Man should cleave to HIS wife not someone else’s wife. Again and again the scripture warns us of adultery and judgment.
- Marriage is a marital relationship. Man cleaves unto his WIFE. It is a relationship between husband and wife. It is not a relationship between unmarried persons.
- Marriage is a monogamous relationship. Man and wife (singular) to be one flesh. God did never permit polygamy; it is Cain’s children who started this practice. All those who violated the divine principles reaped the consequences of it.
The above facts revealed in Genesis chapter two about marriage, are expanded and explained by
God in detail in other parts of the scripture, especially in Pentateuch.
Not only is marriage affected by the curse, Satan himself delights in destroying marriage. Immediately after the curse, we see that man introduced numerous practices which are detrimental to a proper marriage. The ungodly lineage of Cain began to practice polygamy (4:19). Later, Noah’s son, Ham, indulged in sexual thoughts and innuendoes (9:22). Even godly Abram participated in an extramarital affair which, even though not specifically condemned, was harmful to his marriage (16:1-3).
Soon after this, we read about all sorts of immorality, including homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah (19:1-10); fornication, rape, marriage to unbelievers (34:1-2); the practice of incest (35:22; 38:13-18); prostitution (38:24); and seduction (39:7-12).
What is the solution for this age-long attack on the family? We must heed the guidelines given in Scripture for a godly marriage. May God help us to maintain the sanctity of marriage.