We have a marriage problem in America.
We’ve all heard that fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. And over two hundred thousand marriages end each year before reaching their third anniversary.
Worse yet, surveys of the five out of ten intact marriages indicate that only two of the five consider themselves happily married.
What can we do about this? Where should we start?
People will not live well in the relationship of marriage if they hold wrong views of it. It all starts with a recognition that marriage is an institution ordained by God.
God was the one who said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable to him.” So God created the first woman and brought her to the man. And then we learn that, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:18,24).
This is where marriage began and where we must begin in restoring it.
We must bring our marriages back under God as the author and definer of the relationship. Consider the emphasis of the Genesis account on what God did to establish marriage.
- The Lord said it is not good for the man to be alone.
- The Lord brought the living creatures to the man to be named by him
- The Lord caused the man to fall into a deep sleep
- The Lord took one of the man’s ribs and closed up his side
- The Lord fashioned the woman and brought her to the man
Get the point?
Marriage originates with God.
Mess with marriage and you’re messing with God. If you doubt this, consider Jesus’ words and particularly the post-script he adds to the Genesis account:
“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:3-6).
Answering several questions about marriage will help us think clearly about God’s will for the relationship.
Marriage is a God ordained complimentary relationship between one woman and one man. It is meant to be an exclusive (leaving) and permanent (cleaving) one-flesh bond of intimacy and companionship based on a covenant commitment. It fulfills seven purposes:
- Companionship (Genesis 2:18; Malachi 2:14)
- Completion (Genesis 2:18)
- Continuance (Genesis 1:28- of the human race)
- Cooperation (Genesis 1:28)
- Care: (Exodus 21:10-11; 1 Corinthians 7:15)
- Communication (Genesis 1:27; of God’s image and Ephesians 5- Christ’s relationship with his people)
- Constraint (I Corinthians 7:3-5)
“Theologically, marriage is the first human institution. Sociologically, marriage is the glue that holds communities together, regulates sexuality, civilizes the home and provides for the proper development of the next generation. Anthropologists tell us marriage, a permanent linking of men and women, is found in every civilized and uncivilized society throughout human history. However, as Professor Don Browning of the University of Chicago explains, ‘The idea of marriage as an institution has lost favor.’ In the past 3 decades, we have seen a dramatic increase in rates of cohabitation, divorce, and single-parenting by choice. At the same time, marriage rates have significantly declined over this same period. And this is not just an American problem. Marriage has been declining in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and many European and Central American nations. It is critical that we recover the idea of marriage for it is the bedrock of a healthy, productive, safe society.”