Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… The crowning act of creation was when God created Adam (man) in His own image out of the dust of the earth, and gifted him the breath of life by breathing into him His own life-giving breath. The word of God says that God created man in his own image. What does this mean? It means that God created man with the ability to uniquely relate to the almighty God in a way no other species God created could. You and I would never understand human beings, we would never understand the complexity of humanity and relationship until we start to see one another as God’s own handiwork. C.S Lewis puts it this way, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
At every stage of God’s work of creation, everything in creation was great, and God said it was good. The only time that God said it is not good was when Adam was alone. The LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” – Genesis 2:18. And therefore, God gave Adam a gift, a gift of a woman – Eve. Right from the beginning, God provided an answer to man’s aloneness through marriage.
Marriage is ordained and instituted by God. God ordained marriage for human fulfilment and intimacy. Marriage is a partnership; it is a friendship between a husband and a wife. God created man and woman to enjoy each other’s’ fellowship for a lifetime of joy, happiness, fulfilment, and commitment. That is God’s purpose for marriage.
“A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24.
This statement was repeated both by the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul. This one single verse by virtue of its content and repetition in the scripture teaches more about family and about marriage than any other single verse. The necessity of the cleaving implies that this is to be worked at in daily living in such a way that the outcome will be oneness, not togetherness. C.S Lewis in translating it said, they become a single organism.
It is the man who leaves and cleaves, and that’s why the scripture says that in some mysterious way beyond our comprehension, a husband’s relationship to his wife depicts Christ’s relationship to the believers, the church. If a marriage is the picture of Christ’s relationship with the church, then the husband must be the initiator of the expression of love, mercy and grace, just as the Lord Jesus Christ is the initiator of love, grace and mercy to the Church. And just as believers respond by receiving the Lord’s love, grace and mercy in adoration, so must the wife to her husband.
The word of God says (Ephesians 5:25) that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. How does Christ love the church? The following verse tells us that He gives himself up for her. Love wants only the best for the one it loves. God’s love is all sacrificing, constant, willful, determined, nourishing, cherishing and sustaining.
When the apostle Peter said (1 Peter 3:7) that husbands should live according to knowledge with their wives, he is saying that a man can know his spouse intimately through the power of God, the Holy Spirit. And that is, to know more than just how she likes her coffee or tea. This is to know what brings her joy and what pains her; to know what encourages her and what discourages her; to know what lifts her up and what pulls her down; to know what blesses her and what puts dread in her life.
Marriage is the most precious of all out of all the human institution we have. It is also the most dangerous because, it is inside a marriage that someone can experience the greatest disappointment, frustration and pain. “There is almost no unhappiness so poignant as the unhappiness of an unhappy marriage, and almost no tragedy so great as the degeneration of what God meant for love and fulfilment into a non-relationship of bitterness, discord and despair” – John Stott. I think the answer to the following question with the benefit of hindsight says it all and reveals if a marriage truly stands the test of time:
“If you had to do it all over again, would you marry the person you’re married too?”
If you want to get in good shape, you go and work-out, if you want to get ahead in your profession or your vocation, you work long and hard and that takes time. Then tell me please, why in heaven’s name, when it comes to marriage that we think that it should happen without any or much effort, energy and time?
“Things are never perfect in a marriage, there will always be snowstorm or missed plane flight or something else to change your plan or dreams. But that’s when you have a choice. To turn on each other or turn to each other and together ask God for his guidance.”
– Roma Downey, in Touched by an Angel.
Marriage as God intended it, is in the context of a total commitment to self-giving, forgiveness, and fulfilment. Marriage as God intended it, is in the context of a marital covenant for a long-life companionship. Marriage as God intended it, is for a man and a woman to complement and support each other for life. Marriage as God intended it, is an act of God, and that is why divorce is not an act of God, it is an act of men.
How sad it is that, what God has joined together, only man can separate. In the ultimate sense, every Christian marriage is ordained by God and every divorce is not. Why God permits divorce, He permits it in only certain cases – continuous unfaithfulness that includes all kind of abuse (physical or non-physical). I cannot see it anywhere in the scripture where divorce is commanded or commended, divorce is only permitted.
I must say that there is absolutely no excuse for a man abusing a woman. It is absolutely inexcusable, the chauvinist attitude, the gross abuse of some men towards women. The scripture is innocent of it, it has nothing to do with the biblical faith. In fact, I was listening to a fundamentalist preacher who once said that a woman who gets hit by her husband has every right to pack his bag and put him out in the driveway, and say to him “hit the road jack and come back no more.” I’ll say amen to that! There is no excuse for such behaviour. It is ungodly and unbiblical. The scripture commands men to honour women, not abuse them.
It is absolutely mind-boggling for me, it does not make Christian sense whatsoever, for two spouses who have stood before God, who testify before the congregation and before the audience of Heaven, and said, “for better for worse, for richer or poorer,” It does not make any sense that they would both go to the courts of law, only a few years later, and start haggling over who gets the kids, furniture or the dining room as they tear each other apart. There is nothing that weakens the testimony of Christians than their inability to resolve their differences in the spirit of Christ.
This is my personal opinion, you know the marriage vows the couple recites, they need to be modified, so when the couple says, “I promise to love, honour, cherish…” it should be added, “forgive.” Please, don’t misunderstand me, different levels of offences have different levels of forgiveness. The little things need daily forgiveness, but the major offence or betrayal requires major time, and effort and prayer. It would take genuine repentance, brokenness, and willingness for a total change if there is going to be a restoration after a major offence. I am realistic enough to know that when a spouse betrays a marriage vow, there is a far deeper level of forgiveness, and the level of forgiveness depends on the level of repentance and change of heart.
Nevertheless, forgiveness is still required even if the betrayal (big or small) continues or after temporary remorse. Yes, we must forgive even in our heart without the person’s true repentance, because Jesus forgave us, and we are commanded to forgive. When I was a young Christian, I would hear the preacher say, “God forgives and forget.” Genuinely, I used to think that God has a case of amnesia. What the word means is that God does not count our sins against us, that is what the Bible means by: “He remembers our sins no more.”
The very first miracle Jesus performed when he began his ministry was at a wedding, (John 2) when he changed the water into wine. On a deeper level, this miracle is a sign that Jesus alone can change our lives. He alone can bring joy into a life that is full of boredom and emptiness. This miracle reminds me of another wedding that is going to take place, and when that wedding takes place, Jesus is not going to be a guest, he’s going to be the bridegroom, and we the church are going to be the bride. In his presence will be fullness of joy; at his right hand will be pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
The very essence of the Christian marriage is Christ’s relationship with his bride, the Church. It is no coincidence that the Bible begins with a wedding between a man and a woman, Adam and Eve, and then ends with a symbolic wedding between the Lord Jesus Christ – the bridegroom, and his bride, the church. The church of Jesus Christ is the believers from every corner of the globe, every generation & tribe, and all together will be there at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).
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