We (especially in the west) tend to view marriage as a means of personal fulfillment.
- Was this God’s intention for marriage when he gave it to humanity?
- Does the personal fulfillment understanding of marriage deceive us into wanting more from marriage than it was intended to give?
Truth – We cannot do well in the relationship of marriage if we hold the wrong view of marriage.
- Ah, but is there a “right” view of marriage? It depends on whether marriage is something we came up with or something God gave to us.
- If marriage originates with God, we need to do our best to understand the purpose our Creator had for the relationship.
- Completion (Genesis 2:18)
- Companionship (Genesis 2:18; Malachi 2:14)
- Continuance (Genesis 1:28) of the human race)
- Coregency (Genesis 1:28)
- Care (Exodus 21:10-11; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 5:25-33)
- Communication (Genesis 1:27) of God’s image and the relationship between Christ’s and His Church (Ephesians 5:25-33)
- Constraint on sexual immorality (I Corinthians 7:3-5)
When God first gave marriage to humans…
Marriage is God’s gift to humans to bring completion to the first man by providing complimentary female companionship for him.
- “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).
The original plan assumes the necessity of individuality and uniqueness in husband and wife for the completion of oneness.
Since the first man was incomplete without the woman, she evidently brought special qualities to their relationship that must not disappear into his dominance.
If a husband behaves toward his wife in a way that causes her to disappear in to his dominance, he threatens the complimentary intention of the Creator. He hurts himself and his wife.
When a wife suppresses her identity under a dominant husband, she deprives their lives of the gifts and strengths God intends for her to bring to the relationship.
Sometimes women make this mistake based on misguided understandings of headship and submission. Trying to be “the submissive Christian wife,” these women violate the original design by not being the complementary completion God intended.
Leaving, united and one flesh
- “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24-25).
As originally designed, it is meant to be an exclusive (leaving) and permanent (cleaving/be united), one-flesh union.
One-flesh union in marriage is more than two bodies uniting. It’s a person-to-person fusion of two lives — celebrated by physical union. The physical union is the consummation of a God-formed bond. Physical union alone does not constitute a marriage nor necessitate one.
- “Haven’t you read,” Jesus said, “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 19:4-6).
We learn from Jesus that marriage is intended as a life-long relationship (what God has joined together, let man not separate).
Brides and bridegrooms honor the teaching of our Lord when they solemnly promise to love, honor and cherish, and remain faithful to each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death separates them.
Equality and roles
Equality is reflected in the first marriage as the man and woman were created in the image of God and given co-regency over the created order (Genesis 1:26-28).
Marriage is a covenant of companionship between two spiritually equal human beings who are in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28).
Yet equality does not eliminate roles in a marriage relationship. Nor do roles in marriage diminish the call to mutual love and respect.
Husbands bear primary responsibility to lead their homes in God-honoring ways.
A husbands leadership clearly involves authority and should be honored by his wife and family (Ephesians 5:22-24, 33; 6:1-3). His authority, however, must be based on love (see: Ephesians 5:25, 33, w/ John 10:11-13; I Corinthians 13:4-8a) and thoughtful consideration (I Peter 3:7) (see also: Philippians 2:3-5).
Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Cultural limitations or biases should not be placed on this command any more than on the command for wives to respect their husbands.
Action questions –
- How does this challenge the view of marriage as a means to personal fulfillment?
- How does a personal fulfillment way of understanding marriage leads us to want more from marriage than it was intended to give?
- Does a personal fulfillment view of marriage increase the risk of divorce?