CATECHESIS Q & A: DEEPENING OUR KNOWLEDGE
“What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?”
By Don and Sally Meredith
“What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?” Most Christians see marriage as a gift from God and a sacred institution. Yet, in our experience as marriage counselors, we have found that even mature believers often don’t have a clear Biblical basis for their beliefs. Having a sound Christian perspective on marriage is vitally important today, as many in our society are trying to redefine marriage to fit their particular social or political agendas.
Created for Relationships: Love and relationships are a central theme in the Bible, beginning in Genesis and culminating in Revelation. St. Augustine made the statement, “Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee.” God designed us for a relationship with Him. The whole of Scripture speaks of our relationship with Him: how to have it, how to hold onto it, how to rest in it, how to communicate it, how to enjoy it. But, God did not want us to just have relationship with Him alone. He created others that we might also learn to live with and love those He places in our lives. He said, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the Body, just as He desired” (1 Corinthians 12:18-21).
If God is in the process of placing us into the Body of Christ (the Church), doesn’t this also mean He places each person called to marriage with the spouse of His choice? Since God places us in relationships we must ask ourselves the question: Why marriage? Why between a man and a woman? What is it about marriage that is so important to God? What is it about marriage that is so important to me? The Importance of Marriage to Each Spouse: Could it be that God has created marriage, the most intimate of human relationships, for the purpose of refining us, chiseling off our selfish human nature, and making us more “other-centered”? Isn’t this what He means when He says that we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son …” (Romans 8:29)? How best to make us “other-centered” than to give us a spouse, very different from us, to mold us into His image?
The Importance of Marriage to God’s Plan for Mankind – Marriage also has purposes beyond each individual marriage that relate to God’s plan for mankind. In fact, there are three clear purposes outlined in Genesis:
- Reflect: Christian marriages are to reflect God’s image: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Each individual (as a male and as a female) is created in the image of God. However, a married couple has a unique capacity to reflect His image as husband and wife. When we recognize our purpose is to reflect the image of God, we see that we have an opportunity to be a witness to a lost world.
- Reproduce: God’s second purpose for marriage is to reproduce: God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28a). Marriage is an opportunity for men and women to procreate. Children are a gift from God and with them comes great responsibility: children are to be raised in His “likeness.” The Father gives His love to the Son, the Son receives that love and returns it to the Father and that interpersonal love is the Holy Spirit. In the same way a husband gives himself to his bride and the bride returns that love to her husband; and that love is so real that nine months later it is given a name.
- Reign – The third purpose for marriage is to reign: God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28a). According to this verse, married couples are to “subdue” the earth. To accomplish this requires good stewardship in the physical realm over that which God has given. It also requires diligence in the spiritual realm. Together married couples are to be “soldiers” directed by God to accomplish His intentions on earth.
Marriage As a Witness to the World: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). Marriage is a significant institution by which a lost world can see Christianity in action. Marriage is the most intimate of human relationships in which husbands and wives learn to model Christ’s love. Marriage is the 18-year training ground for children so that they can also love “one another.” Marriage provides a unique opportunity to reflect Him as a couple. Marriage provides a platform for accomplishing God’s intentions for mankind.