If you hope to do well in the relationship of marriage, you’ll need a shared vision of the nature and meaning of marriage.
Most people who get married don’t think very deeply about the meaning and nature of marriage. Perhaps they see themselves as making a lifelong commitment to love their mate (and this is good), but understanding the original plan for marriage will help them live out such a commitment.
In a time when the very nature of marriage is questioned, there’s a great need to revisit the original institution of the marriage relationship. We should ask several questions:
- Is there a divine plan for marriage?
- Did our Creator establish marriage in a specifically defined way?
- What can we learn from the narrative about the first marriage?
When they asked Jesus about divorce
Jesus refused to answer questions about divorce before talking about marriage itself. He took them directly to the authoritative source for understanding the origin and nature of marriage. His source for this information is captured in the words “at the beginning.” He then referred to a written source of authority, “Haven’t you read?” — treating what was written as the voice of God Himself.
According to Jesus, the original design for marriage is based on God’s own words, “the Creator made them male and female and said, ….”
“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.”
Looking at the original plan, a number of important factors about the nature of marriage emerge. Consider them in the sequence of the following verses:
Genesis 2:15, 18, 22, 24
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. … The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ … Then the Lord God made a woman … and he brought her to the man. … For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to (cleave to) his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
12 truths about marriage
1. God provided man with an amazing place to live and to work (v.15)
It’s not uncommon for men to become overly preoccupied with their place and their work. Yet, as important as work is, it’s not enough (I Timothy 5:8; II Thessalonians 3:10).
2. Completion of man involved a relationship of human companionship (18).
“Man will not live until he loves, giving himself away to another on his own level.” (Kidner)
3. Although he has fellowship with his Maker, man is meant for relationships with other human beings.
4. God creates a woman as a helper suitable to or support corresponding to the man.
The woman was created for the man (I Corinthians 11:9). She filled up what was missing. This role of helper in no way implies inferiority for she too is made in the image of God and shares co-regency with the man (Genesis 1:28).
5. The terms of the first marriage convey equality in a context of completion. Although equal, as one beside the man, the woman supplies what is missing as one clearly different from the man.
“Woman is the glory of man” (I Corinthians 11:7). Her union with man fills up what is lacking. She is a “helper” or “support to him” but this role does not imply inferiority (see: Galatians 3:28).
6. Marriage was God’s plan for our good (But we have not always treated marriage as a divine good)
7. God did not consult with the man about needing a wife. He provided one.
8. Male and female were created for each other.
Marriage is God’s gift and if we understood our mates as His gift it would change our treatment of them in positive ways.
9. As God’s gift to man, the woman brought an end to the concern that it was “not good for the man to be alone.”
10. Marriage is made up of two unique individuals (loss of uniqueness would hurt the completion)
11. Whatever “becoming one” means, it’s not the loss of unique identity in either mate.
Marriage is the bonding of two individual identities into one new relationship. Like the different color sands in a sand ceremony, each one brings individual significance, gifts and beauty to the relationship of marriage. Whatever oneness conveys, it is not the disappearance of a woman behind the dominance of the man nor the man behind the dominance of the woman. This would violate the original purpose of complimentary completion.
12. Leaving and Cleaving – are actions necessary to building the marriage relationship. They picture the forging of a strong bond!
It is very significant that the man is the one given primary responsibility to forge the bond by cleaving to his wife. This confronts the problem of male passivity in marriage (see: Ephesians 5:25).
Audio message here: When Two Become One