WHAT IS MARRIAGE ?
Most people feel that they know, and to a certain degree, almost everyone does. But, most people have one or more very important factors. Even Christians often miss out on the complete truth when they study only part of what the Bible says about marriage.
Of course, marriage is a binding agreement—a covenant—between a man and a woman. But, like any relationship, or contract, it involves a specific commitment from both parties.
It is similar to a civil Court, where a judge will hear the case of two parties which want to make an agreement. The judge will say to each party, “This and this is what you must do.” It is then put into writing according to the judge’s Court Order, and the document is agreed to, signed, and witnessed.
In this case, marriage is an agreement which our great Judge, the LORD, has stipulated. It is then agreed to, witnessed by men, and must be carried out. But, how do we find out what our Judge says is required in marriage ?
The Word of God spells out the points of the contract plainly.
It is for a specific duration.
“To death do us part,” is the one most commonly known.
Romans 7:2-3 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
*NOTE: That while still married to a man, she marries another, she has committed adultery. Biblical divorce ends the marriage relationship, however, and the person is no longer considered married.
It involves specific commitment.
This commitment is both before God, and must be made known to men. The world’s acknowledgement of a marital relationship comes in the form of a marriage license. However, a true marriage relationship involves exclusivity, where the two “forsake all other, and cleave unto each other.”
It involves the hand of God.
In the ideal marriage, God brings a woman to a man, and they are blessed by God to serve Him together. Genesis 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
It is a relationship with a purpose.
No marriage exists strictly for the pleasure of the two people who shared wedding vows. Marriage is a relationship in which a man and his wife take two specific and differing roles. God places the headship of the home in the care of man. He has been commissioned by God to accomplish certain things with his life, and the woman enters into his life so that the two of them may do it together. Thus, marriage is a relationship designed to fulfill the purposes of God.
The concept of ‘help-meet’ is established in the Bible as a very foundational principle for a successful Christian marriage.
Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
As with all other things in a Christians life, he should be conscious of the real purposes. His marriage is meant to please God.
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
NOTE: If that marriage fails to please God through the failure of one or the other parties to fulfill all the agreements, God leaves room to sever the marriage relationship, as we shall discuss later.
The relationship is a physical union.
1 Corinthians 6:15-16 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
The relationship is a spiritual union.
In the Christian marriage, where two people are both saved, there is a marriage as God wanted. Both parties are united in Him in spirit, as well as having the physical bond.
1 Corinthians 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
It is a relationship meant to be blessed by God.
Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.
It is a relationship brought about by God, and is not to be dissolved by man.
Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
When a couple makes holy vows before God at a church wedding, they are often repeating various phrases which come right out of the Bible. Some of the Biblical principles are reworded and summarized, but they carry the impact of what God says a relationship ought to be. These are oaths made to each other, that God recognizes and honors. And, God expects the couple to keep those Biblical vows.
Once the vows are consummated, if either of the two break those vows, it is like a contract where one party has failed to live up to his sworn obligation. It would be like a man failing to make payments on his car. The company which loaned the money says, “You have failed to live up to your promises, so we will now require you to give back our car.” If either party to a normal contract breaks their covenant, or agreement, the Contract is declared null and void, and the property which was financed goes back to the company which retained ownership. (Of course, there are many types of contracts, but this is the most common one which shows what happens in a case of infidelity).
Since the marriage contract is where God gives the couple to each other, the union begins with His actions. The conditions of this relationship, the existence of the participants, and the rules governing the relationship are all made by God Almighty, and He is the most important Party to this contract. So, when it goes astray, He must be the Judge to determine if the Contract of Marriage has truly been severed, and what the consequences will be.
In His infinite wisdom, He has written what events would constitute an actual breaking of His work. In His contract, He states what specific consequences will be if either party fails to live up to their end of the agreement.
This, of course, brings us to the subject of divorce.