Christ taught that Genesis 2 contains God’s perfect plan for marriage and that this divine law is in effect today (Mat. 19:4-6, 8).
Consider some important lessons about marriage from this foundational passage:
1. Marriage is a divine institution, and man has no right to change it. God performed the first marriage ceremony when He brought the woman to the man and made them husband and wife.
2. Marriages should be “made in heaven.” God still brings men and women together when they yield to Him. Men and women should seek God’s perfect will in this most important matter (Prov. 18:22).
3. Marriage as God designed it is between one man and one woman, not between a man and a man, or between a woman and a woman, or between one man and two women, or between one woman and two men, or between a man and a child, etc.
4. The husband and wife are to leave their parents and build a new home (Gen. 2:24).
To “leave father and mother” does not mean to cease to love and honor one’s parents, or to cease to help them (1 Tim. 5:4, 8), or to cease to listen to their counsel (Prov. 24:6).
It means the following:
- It means that the husband and wife are not to give headship to the parents. Many marriages have been hurt by husbands and wives allowing their parents to interfere in a controlling way. The head of the wife is her husband, not her parents or her husband’s parents. The husband is no longer under the headship of his parents and must not allow his parents to control or harm his marriage.
- It means that the husband and wife don’t live by the thinking of the extended family.
- It means that the husband and wife don’t allow the extended family to interfere with the marriage in a harmful way, such as by criticism or by exercising an unholy influence on the children.
- It means that the husband and wife don’t let financial obligations to the parents and extended family members harm the new family. A husband and father should help parents, siblings, and other family members when needed and possible, but he should not take on financial obligations that will harm his own family. I think of a man who put his new family in financial straits for years because he felt an obligation to pay for the education of his unsaved siblings even though he couldn’t afford to do so.
5. The purpose of marriage is three-fold: companionship, children, and help.
The wife is the husband’s “helpmeet” (Gen. 2:18). This means a “suitable helper.” The woman was divinely prepared to be the man’s assistant. Adam was not given to Eve; Eve was given to Adam to assist him in the business that God had for him in this world. The man is the head, and it is not the woman’s place to rule the man and lead the home. We will see that Eve erred greatly when she made a decision that was not hers to make.
The husband and wife should be partners and best friends. They should help one another and complement one another rather than compete with one another. Instead of tearing one another down and belittling one another, the marriage partners should build one another up and bring out the best in one another. They are one body. They are a team.
Marriage is the foundation for God’s law of sexual morality. Marriage sanctifies and legitimizes the sexual relationship between the man and woman (Heb. 13:4). Outside of holy marriage, sexual relationships are sinful before God. Every attack on biblical marriage is an attack upon morality itself, because God has designed marriage to be the foundation of morality in human society. This includes “no fault divorce,” multiple marriage partners, such as in polygamy, and same-sex marriage partners.
The man and woman are equal before God but different in their roles in this world. They are equal in that both are made in God’s image and both have eternal spirits. They are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7), but they have different purposes. The husband and wife must give attention to his or her own responsibility before God and not try to change the other person. The husband’s business is to lead the home and provide for the home while treating his wife with love and patience (Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:19; 1 Tim. 5:8). He is the head but this headship is to be exercised in Christ-like kindness rather than worldly severity. The woman is his wife and loving companion, not his slave. She is his own body, and how foolish it is for a man to mistreat his own body. If the husband will focus his attention on his responsibilities before God, the wife will usually respond by being a better wife. On the other hand, the wife’s business is to submit to the husband and serve him (Eph. 5:23-24; Titus 2:1-5). If she will focus her attention on this business, the husband usually responds by being a better and more loving husband. On the other hand, if the husband tries to force the wife to obey him and if the wife tries to force the husband to love her, it doesn’t work and no progress is made in the marriage.
The above is excerpted from OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY ISBN 1-58318-081-8. This course gives an extensive survey of Old Testament history as well as the geography of the Bible. It is accompanied by a CD containing 55 professional Bible maps and pictures of the tabernacle and Herod’s Temple. The September 2014 edition of Old Testament History & Geography is much enlarged and improved. It is keyed with Bible Times & Ancient Kingdoms, which is a separate package consisting of a book and a DVD with 21 PowerPoint presentations featuring more than 3,300 slides. The presentations are packed with high quality color photos, drawings, historic recreations, and video clips gathered from the author’s research and travels. 413 pages.
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