God’s Design For Marriage
Richard Powell, Senior Pastor
Gayle Urban of Woodbridge, Va. Tells of a humorous episode in her life.
While browsing in a Christian bookstore one day, I discovered a shelf of “reduced price” items. Among the gifts was a little figurine of a man and woman, their heads lovingly tilted toward one another. “Happy 10th Anniversary” read the inscription. It appeared to be in perfect condition, yet its tag indicated, “damaged.” Examining it more closely, I found another tag underneath and chuckled—“Wife is coming unglued.” Citation: Gayle Urban, Woodbridge, Va. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
If you are already married I want to help you to stay glued. I pray that a fresh look at God’s original design for marriage will remind you how special marriage can be.
If you are dating or contemplating marriage in the future then I hope this message will give you direction as you make one of life’s greatest decisions.
READ PASSAGE Genesis 2:20-25
Whenever there is a separation between precepts and practice, belief and behavior, things break down. In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric, invading hordes to the north. To get this protection, they built the Great Wall of China. It's 30 feet high, 18 feet thick, and more than 1,500 miles long! The Chinese goal was to build an absolutely impenetrable defense—too high to climb over, too thick to break down, and too long to go around. But during the first hundred years of the wall's existence China was successfully invaded three times.
It wasn't the wall's fault. During all three invasions, the barbaric hordes never climbed over the wall, broke it down, or went around it; they simply bribed a gatekeeper and then marched right in through an open door. The purpose of the wall failed because of a breakdown between precepts and practice, between belief and behavior. Citation: James Emery White, You Can Experience a Purposeful Life (Nashville: Word, 2000)
Something similar has happened in the modern understanding of marriage. Our society has divorced God’s precepts, His Word from its practices. Most people no longer look to God for wisdom and direction when it comes to the marriage relationship. They simply go their own way.
Big Idea: God designed marriage for our good and for His glory. There is nothing wrong with marriage as God intended it to be. The problem lies with people who reject God’s design and accept Satan’s counterfeits. To reject God’s plan for marriage is to open up the gate for satanic attack. And certainly this is what is going on in America today. The home is under attack because we have abandoned that which was given for its protection.
People’s lives are being hurt by two debates that rage in our society. The first is the Divorce Debate. It has been said that American society may have erased the stigma that once accompanied divorce, but it can no longer ignore divorce's massive effects. As social scientists track successive generations of American children whose parents have ended their marriages, the facts are leading even some once-staunch supporters to conclude that divorce is hurting American society and devastating children's lives. Its effects are obvious in family life, educational attainment, job stability, income potential, physical and emotional health, drug use, and crime.
Did you know that each year, over one million American children suffer as their parents divorce. Moreover, half of all children born in wedlock this year will see their parents divorce before reaching their eighteenth birthday. This fact alone should give us reason for pause.
The second debate that is harming people’s lives is the Definition Debate. A growing number of people in our society believe that marriage can be defined any way you want. In their opinion marriage can be between and man and a women, between two men, or between two women. Where will this logic end? Will we sanction polygamy?
Friend, I want to inform you based on the authority of God’s Word that marriage is of Divine origin. It was God’s idea. Man has no right to change the definition!
Marriage can be for our good and God’s glory when we follow His design.
There are four commitments that must be made if you are going to enjoy marriage as God intended.
Commitment # 1: Receiving Your Mate
20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam 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."
God had created the world and all that is in it. He created the birds of the sky, and the beasts of the field. Adam’s job was to name all the creatures. You can almost imagine Adam standing in the garden naming the animals. A four-footed beast saunters up to Adam chewing its cud. Adam takes one look at it and calls it a cow. (No, he didn’t say “Holy Cow!”) Next Adam notices a blue feathery bird soaring over head. Adam names him Blue jay. On and on Adam named the animals. We do not know what Adam named the creatures, but you get the point.
A. Adam’s problem
But Adam had a problem. He noticed that there was no one like him around. Mr. Cow had Mrs. Cow, and Mr. Blue Jay had Mrs. Blue jay. But where was Mrs. Adam? Adam realized that he was all alone. Now, sure, he had God, but Adam did not have another human being like himself.
It is not wrong to desire a life-long companion. God is the one who placed that desire for companionship in your heart. However, it is wrong to fulfill that desire or longing in the wrong way. Don’t go looking for love in all the wrong places. Don’t take matters into your own hands and marry the first person you meet. But it is not wrong to not want to be alone.
B. God’s Plan
Adam had a problem, but God had a plan. Adam’s dilemma did not take God by surprise. God already knew what every woman knows! God knew that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).
God’s original plan was to create a helper fitting, or suitable for Adam. Marriage was not an add-on to God’s plan. Marriage is not a disposable commodity in the human existence. Marriage is of divine origin. It was God’s idea long before Adam thought of it. God wanted to create a longing in Adam’s heart so that Adam would look to God to fill it. Whenever God allows us to experience problems it is for the purpose of teaching us to depend upon Him.
So God performs the first surgery ever. He administers a little angelic anesthesia, putting Adam to sleep, and then goes to work creating someone just for Adam!
A little girl once recounted the creation story by saying, “God created man from the dirt, took one look at him and said, ‘I can do better than that.’ So He created the woman.”
A lady in our church used to sign her e-mails with the phrase, “Remember, Adam was made from dirt, but Eve was made out of prime rib.”
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman.
Someone has said that “woman was taken not from man's head to rule over him, nor from his feet to be trampled upon, but from his side, under his arm, to be protected by him, and closest his heart, to be loved by him.”
After God created Eve He brought her to Adam. This was truly a match made in Heaven! Only one question remained. What would be Adam’s response?
Remember, he had been naming the animals before God put him under and performed surgery on him. He was probably dreaming of lions and eagles! Adam wakes up in God’s recovery room and the first nurse he sees is his own beautiful bride!
Adam didn’t know anything about Eve except that she came from God.
And Adam 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.”
You know why he called her woman don’t you? He took one look at her said, “Whoa, man! This is more like it!” Finally Adam has some one just like himself. She was like him while at the same time different. Viva la Difference!
Listen, this passage illustrates a beautiful truth that we must never forget. Our marriage partner is to be received as a gift from God! A godly mate is God’s provision for your need of companionship! Receiving your mate as such demonstrates your faith in God and your gratitude. We must wait on God to bring the right person into our life and then we should receive that person as a gift from God.
Single adults, make sure you look to God to meet your needs. God has the right person for you. Don’t take matters into your own hands, and don’t get ahead of God.
For those of you already married, I hope you will always respect your mate as a gift from God. They may not always act like a gift from God, but that is the way you should treat them and pray for them. You made a vow before God to take your spouse for better or for worse. I know, some wife is saying, “Yes, but he is worse than I took him for!”
Maybe you feel like you married the wrong person. You need to remember that God hates divorce. He does not hate divorced people; He just hates what divorce does to people. Divorce is not permitted unless you are the victim of adultery or if you have been deserted or abandoned by an unbelieving spouse.
3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”4 And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 7:15-16
15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
Some of you are saying, “But pastor, I married a non-believer. Should I divorce him because he is not a Christian?”
1 Peter 3:1-3
3:1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
So, Commitment # 1 involves receiving your mate as God’s gift. Accept them unconditionally. Accept their strengths and weaknesses. You must do this when you say your vows on the wedding day, and you must do this everyday thereafter!
Commitment #2: Leaving Your Family
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
I will always remember the nervous anticipation that welled up in my heart as Donna gave birth to our first child. I looked forward to seeing my baby’s face. I also knew that the time would come when I would be asked to do the dad thing; cut the umbilical cord. When Joshua had been delivered and placed upon Donna’s chest, the doctor handed me a pair of scissors and instructed me on where to make the cut. I obliged. It was a bitter –sweet moment. It was bitter because I had just severed the last remaining cord between mother and child. For many months Donna had nurtured Joshua as he grew inside his mother’s womb. He was vitally connected to her. Then some sorry man came along and cut the cord! It was a bitter moment because there is no other bond like that of a mother and her growing child within.
But it was also a sweet moment because it was the moment Donna and I had looked forward to for so long. We knew that babies were not meant to stay attached to mother forever. In fact, the cutting of the cord was just the first of many steps that will continue until our little baby is an independent man.
The same can be said of marriage. There comes a time when two types of relational surgery are necessary.
A. Newly weds must sever the cord of dependency.
As children we are totally dependent upon our parents for the material and non-material things in our lives. Mom and dad provide us food, clothing, and shelter. Mom and dad give us emotional and spiritual stability. Things change, however, when we grow up and get married.
No longer are we to be totally dependent upon mom and dad for our financial, emotional, or material needs. The wedding day to a man and woman is what July 4 is to America: Independence Day!
This does not mean that we should never receive help from our parents. It just means that God expects us to be independent of them as much as possible.
B. Newly weds must sever the cord of allegiance.
I have stood before over 100 emotional dads as they heard the question from my lips, “Who in the Name of our Heavenly Father gives the woman to be married to this man?” Dad then replies, “Her mother and I.” He then, with perhaps a tear in his eye, and most certainly a lump in his throat, steps back, places his daughter’s hand into the hand of her soon to be husband. He then turns and takes his place on the pew next to the bride’s mother. All of this gives testimony to the fact that the primary allegiance for the newly wed couple has changed.
On your wedding day your primary allegiance shifts from your parents to your mate. On your wedding day your priorities change. Your spouse must become the most important person in your life next to God.
Does this mean you are no longer to respect your parents? No. Exodus 20:12 is still in effect. Children, even grown children are to honor their parents. But your first and foremost loyalty is now to your spouse!
Couples fail to cut these cords when--
- They are immature with their finances and always expect mom and dad to bail them out.
- They run to mommy or daddy every time there is a problem in the marriage instead of learning how to communicate with their spouse and work things out.
- They would rather spend time at the parent’s house than at home with their spouse.
I have seen several couples in my years of ministry fail to cut the cords of dependency and allegiance. Always their failure to do this results in a strained marriage relationship. Marriage is no place for selfishness and immaturity. Marriage is for “big people” and if you are not ready then don’t get married. A broken engagement is better than a broken marriage!
Commitment #3: Cleaving To Your Mate
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Listen to how the King James Version translates the Hebrew.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (KJV)
Cleave (dabaq) means to “glue himself to” his wife. When people get married we often say they “tied the knot.” Some people don’t know how to tie very good knots! The marriage covenant ought to be seen as a permanent bond! If you cannot make a life-long commitment then you should not get married! Decide once and for all that divorce is not an option. Decide that as much as depends upon you, your marriage will be for a lifetime. God home and cut the word divorce out of your dictionary!
Another word for cleave is commitment. Commitment is the foundation of true intimacy. This is the reason most marriages end in divorce when the couple lives together before marriage. These people try to have intimacy without the commitment. They sabotage their own relationship from the beginning.
Now, when the Bible affirms the marriage commitment, it does not encourage destructive codependency. Nor does it demand that you sacrifice your God-given individuality. To cleave to your mate means that you foster healthy interdependence through an unbreakable commitment. My wife and I will only grow closer and stronger as a couple as we individually grow closer to God.
You marriage vows are permanent not only because you are making them to your spouse but also to God.
Ecclesiastes 5:5 says, “Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”
When you cleave to your mate you are agreeing to:
- To stay married the rest of your lives.
- To love and cherish one another.
- To maintain sexual purity always.
One of the reasons so many marriages are ending in the divorce court is because people are not making this kind of commitment. People today don’t want to be lonely, or they are running away from home, or they want sex, or they want someone to care for them, or they are caving in to societal pressure. But these are wrong reasons to say, “I do.” Listen to these Scriptures that demonstrate God’s view of marriage.
15 So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel... (from New International Version)
3The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" 4 And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' 5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
When two people display this type of godly commitment they are pointing people to God whose grace makes it possible. They become examples of God’s character. This is what Paul meant when he said the marriage relationship is a picture of Christ and the Church.
30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Commitment #4: Becoming One Flesh
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
All right! Now we get the good stuff. This is what most of you have been waiting for! Sadly, I am out of time so I will have to end the sermon here. Just kidding!
A lady named Rita Fisher tells of an embarrassing moment on her wedding day. "The day was unseasonably warm when my husband and I got married and, to make matters worse, the air conditioning in the church wasn't working. Becoming increasingly uncomfortable in my gown, I grumbled during the photo session, then endured the receiving line, cutting the cake, even opening the presents. But when I saw the mountain of cards to open, that was it. Smiling, I said to the guests, 'You'll have to excuse us, but we're very hot and need to do something about it.' My face grew even hotter when I saw my husband's look and realized what I had said." Citation: Rita Fischer, Dexter, Michigan. Christian Reader, "Rolling Down the Aisle."
People get embarrassed when the subject of sex comes up. And that is not such a bad thing. Society has gotten too comfortable discussing such intimate matters. We have lost our ability to blush.
However, it is appropriate in this sex-saturated society to proclaim God’s will for this aspect of married life. God is the one who invented sex in the first place!
What are the reasons God gave married couples the gift of sex?
The phrase “one flesh” means “oneness.” One of the reasons God gave married couples the gift of sex is to celebrate the oneness that marriage makes possible. Unmarried people may have sex but they cannot celebrate oneness. Oneness is more than the uniting of two bodies. It is the uniting of two hearts and souls and minds in commitment to God and to each other. Sex outside of marriage is just Satan’s cheap counterfeit.
Did you know that math is different in marriage than in school.
In school, 1 plus 1=2.
But in marriage 1 plus 1=1.
Sexual intercourse was God’s idea! It is to be the culminating commitment between two people who have been drawn together by God. Sexuality is a beautiful thing when it is the expression of emotional and spiritual intimacy between a husband and wife who are committed to one another for life. Sex is a celebration between a loving husband and wife.
Dr. Loius H. Evans, Jr. writes, “The one flesh in marriage is not just a physical phenomenon, but a uniting of the totality of two personalities. In marriage, we are one flesh spiritually by vow, economically by sharing, logistically by adjusting time and agreeing on the disbursement of all life’s resources, experientially by trudging through the dark valleys and standing victoriously on the peaks of success, and sexually by the bonding of our bodies.”
When you realize what becoming one flesh really means you understand that it should FOLLOW the other three commitments and FOLLOW the marriage ceremony. You RECEIVE, LEAVE, CLEAVE, then you BECOME one flesh as the culmination of the other three commitments.
As usual, society has it all backwards. Society says that you should have sex and get to know someone first in a sexual way. Then you can get to know the other person intellectually if the sex leads the relationship anywhere. After this you can get to know someone emotionally. Last of all you can get to know the other person spiritually if it’s not too controversial or politically incorrect or if it’s even important.
God’s design is for your good and for His glory. God says that you are to get to know the other person spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and then, after marriage, sexually.
God’s intention for sex involves more that just physical release! The world has cheapened it to some dirty concept. Don’t reverse God’s order of things. Get to know your mate spiritually first, then emotionally and intellectually, and finally sexually.
Another reason for sex is obvious. God intended Adam and Eve to populate the world. God told them to be fruitful and multiply. What a command. Adam probably said to Eve, “Well, you heard what He said. This is big place so we better get to work!”
God’s design for marriage is to provide a loving, stable, and godly place where children can be brought into the world by a mother and father committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. The family unit is the basic building block of society. This doesn’t mean that God cannot empower single adults to fulfill their responsibilities in raising godly, well adjusted children. But we must never lose sight of nor devalue God’s original design. God knows that having a stable relationship between a husband and wife is the best environment for children.
There are several benefits and blessings for the couple who follow God’s design for marriage. Protection from harm is one of them.
A teenaged boy once asked his grandfather what people used for safe sex when he was young. The grandfather, without looking up from his morning paper replied, “A wedding ring!”
Let me tell you young people, you don’t have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases when you wait till marriage before having sex. You don’t have to worry about unwanted pregnancies when you wait till marriage before having sex. You don’t have to worry about the guilt and shame that comes with premarital sex if you follow God’s design. You don’t have to sneak around living in fear of getting caught if you wait till you are married before having sex.
13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Marriage is not an end--it is a beginning. It is not a destination, but rather a method of travel. Citation: Ed Young, Romancing the Home. Marriage Partnership, Vol. 12, no. 1.
Big Idea: Marriage can be for our good and God’s glory when we follow His design.
6 But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.' 7'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8'and the two shall become one flesh'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."