Sue and I have just recently celebrated our 37th anniversary of marriage. I thank God daily for my beautiful wife and best friend. It has not always been smooth sailing, and there was a point in our marriage where I had to truly repent to God and to Sue for an unhealthy attitude I had as a husband, but transformation took place, and we have thrived and grown together since. Even when I am traveling, Sue and I make it a point to Facetime daily, to pray together and to connect. I can say with all sincerity that our partnership in marriage just keeps getting better and better.
Many people will get married in their lifetime, and there is a reason. Not only is marriage the place where new generations are birthed, it is the place where we create the strongest example of mutual love and service. A healthy marriage is the foundation of a healthy family, healthy families are foundational to healthy churches and the Church is the backbone of a society that is righteous and prosperous. The partnership between a man and a woman in matrimony, committed to one another for life, is not just a building block of society; it is essential to the structure. That is why it is absolutely essential that we understand marriage from a biblical perspective so that we can be rooted in truth when developing our own families and preparing for the future. The Word of God provides a foundation for a marriage that is both deeply fulfilling and romantic- the kind of marriage that we hope for when we say “I do”.
Here are five essential truths about marriage from the Bible. The following scripture is key to understanding marriage; it is quoted by both Jesus and Paul in the NT, and defines marriage.
The man 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.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24)
1. Leaving and Cleaving
A man shall leave his father and his mother. From the beginning, we were told not to bring our family members into marriage. Marriage is the beginning of a new family unit, and to treat it as otherwise ultimately disrupts the sacred union between a man and wife. When Sue and I first got married in 1979, I had been very close with my sister, as she had helped raise me as a child. But involving her in my marriage only created tension. When you get married, you must continue to honor you father and mother, and love and serve your family, but your spouse is your first priority.
2. Marriage is Between One Man and One Woman
The undisputable definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. In order to be fruitful, both literally and figuratively, marriage must join together a man and a woman. Although some may attempt to define marriage as otherwise, as the people of God we cannot compromise on what we believe or what we stand for. We are called to be the salt and light to society, to bring Truth even in the face of adversity.
3. Covenant Fidelity is Essential
In order for a marriage to be successful, covenant fidelity is key. Adultery is a serious thing, and must be treated vigilantly. Jesus said that to even look at a woman lustfully is to commit adultery with her in the heart (Matthew 5:28). The Word of God sets us up for success by giving us the guidelines to remain sexually pure and faithful, and by giving us the grace to obey these guidelines.
In order to honor the union of becoming one flesh with your partner, both sexually and figuratively, you must keep the marriage bed pure. Before marriage, abstain from all sexual relations in chastity, and after marriage, remain faithful to one another. If you are engaged or preparing for marriage, you must remain faithful to your partner or fiancé, and commit to total sexual purity. Sexual purity and fidelity set you up for success, so that you and your spouse can build a healthy marriage and family.
4. There is a Supernatural Oneness in Marriage
In Ephesians 5, Paul also quotes Genesis, calling the unity between man and woman a profound mystery (Ephesians 5: 31-32). There is a supernatural oneness in marriage that God wants us to know. The unity that Sue and I share in our marriage is truly heaven on earth, and there is a joy, peace and righteousness that I believe all of us are meant to experience when we are walking with one another and before God in a loving, holy and righteous marriage.
As I said, in marriage we become one flesh. Marriage is a model of unity between Christ and the Church- His Bride. In marriage, we begin to understand and have greater revelation of this mystery, as we experience it with one another and as we reflect it to the world around us. This is God’s beautiful purpose for us in marriage—to show others what oneness in relationship really looks like.
5. God is Against Divorce
When asked about divorce in Matthew 19, Jesus quotes Genesis 2, saying:
Have you not read that from 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 flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.…(Matthew 19:4-5)
As the Church, we do not condemn anyone who has been divorced, but we do believe that the covenant aspect of marriage is that it is created to last a lifetime. When you married your spouse, you made a commitment to love, serve and remain faithful to him or her through trials and difficulties, and not to terminate that commitment. Divorce rates have skyrocketed over the past few decades, even in the Body of Christ. But we want to be a people that reform society and culture by entering into covenant marriages that last a lifetime.
building marriages on the word
Sue and I are firmly committed to praying for healthy marriages in the Body of Christ. Regardless of which stage you are in: preparing for marriage as a single person, newly married, married with children, married for many years or even healing from a divorce, I believe that God wants to bless you in your marriage. Of course, there are some who have the gift of singleness, but many of us will marry, and it is important to honor the marital commitment by obeying the Word of God in your relationship. I believe that healthy, fruitful marriages founded on Christ will transform a broken and hurting society!
Here are some practical resources to help you grow and develop as a Christlike spouse.
- My post, “The Key to a Successful Marriage” gives more details about my story with Sue.
- Dr. Dan & Linda Wilson’s book, Co-Powerful Partnership in Marriage gives a powerful picture of co-laboring together for the glory of God!
- Bill and Pam Farrel’s book, Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti, is very practical and useful in developing healthy communication.
- If you’re married and have started a family or you are thinking of starting a family soon, our sermon series on having a Christlike Family will help prepare and equip you to thrive.