A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.Genesis 2:24-25
Marriage is a God-given gift that we have tarnished by our sin. These verses describe a perfectly trusting, perfectly shame-free, perfectly united partnership of love. Sadly, one tangible effect of our living in a fallen world is that outside of the movies no marriage is only and ever like that. The tragedy of human sin is that it is in our very nature to corrupt what God has created for our good and His glory, causing the beauty and enjoyment of marriage as He intended to be lost. But there is hope! For believers, God’s Spirit enables us to consider marriage according to His design.
We must first acknowledge that outside of Christ, men and women are in flat-out rebellion against God’s purposes. It’s not that we are simply confused about the nature of marriage; it’s that our sinful desires are completely opposed even to what we do understand. Marriage as it is given to us in the Bible is often perceived as a cage, a restriction, or a human contrivance put together long ago—a kind of useless vestige left over from previous generations. If we see God’s design for marriage in this light, it’s because we are predisposed to say, “I don’t like God’s plans. I’ll do this my own way.”
When we are united with Christ, however, God enables us to view marriage according to His design. No matter what any government legislates, Scripture is absolutely clear that any relationship other than a monogamous, heterosexual relationship cannot be and is not a marriage before God, because that is what He decided marriage should be in the very beginning. Jesus’ affirmation of the Genesis 2 depiction of marriage demonstrates that nothing between the beginning and now has changed God’s design (Matthew 19:4-6). We must not tamper with or readjust the Bible to accommodate social trends which would define marriage differently. Though God’s pattern for biblical marriage may be looked down upon by our fallen world, if we believe the Bible to be the very word of God, then we will uphold its teaching—in how we choose to order our own lives and in how we speak of and pray for other people’s relationships.
As believers, we must recognize that God’s concern for marriages in all cultures and at all times is that they would reflect Christ’s love for and commitment to His people (Ephesians 5:22-25). And we must remember that all that is broken and distorted as a result of the fall the Lord Jesus came to renew and repair. Only in and through Christ is it possible to view marriage according to God’s pattern and plan. Instead of us living according to our own way, He has graciously invited us to bow our hearts under His design, which is like no other. For some, it will call for great personal sacrifice to obey God’s commands in this area. For all of us living in the 21st century, it will call for courage to stand up for God’s ways in the face of man’s. In your particular context and circumstances, what will it mean for you to think, speak, and act in a way that reflects God’s design for His great gift of marriage?