Marriage is perhaps the most abused institution God has given us. Historically, people have used marriage for political purposes or as a national defense strategy. One way for a ruler to make peace with a rival king was to marry his daughter. The Bible describes cases of that, and they turn out to be a disaster. People sometimes use polygamy and arranged marriages to cement agreements of all kinds. They have strayed from God’s original plan for marriage by doing so.
Men have used marriage to denigrate and abuse women. They thought of women as possessions and baby machines but nothing more. In some cultures, you could show how wealthy you were by the number of women you controlled. Concubines were common among rulers in the ancient world. Even today, you can buy a wife online or through marriage brokers, and for some women, it has been a path to U.S. citizenship. In recent times, marriage has expanded to include all kinds of relationships, including homosexual and animal relationships.
It is no wonder that God’s original plan for marriage with a man and a woman is becoming less and less recognized in the world today. Genesis 1:27-28 makes it clear that men and women are equal. It is hard to misunderstand when it says, “…in the image of God, male and female He created them.” Passages like Galatians 3:28 point out that there is no distinction between races or sexes in the eyes of God. As far as value, we are “all one in Christ Jesus.”
Genesis 2 elaborates on God’s original plan for marriage between a man and a woman. In verse 18, God says, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and He created a “helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:24 concludes this relationship by saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.” The Hebrew word translated “cleave” means “adhere to.” This word refers to closeness, such as your tongue cleaving to the roof of your mouth (See Palms 137:6 and Job 29:10). This is not talking about a sexual act but a close relationship.
If a person’s view of marriage is that it is just a sexual relationship, then every person who engages a prostitute is married to her. Some marriages have failed because sex is the only thing the two individuals have. Marriage does fulfill the biological drive built into humans (See 1 Corinthians 7:2-), but that cannot be the sole basis of a marriage, or the relationship will not be what God’s original plan for marriage was designed to be. Becoming one and adhering means having a relationship that is so close that each one’s big concern in life is for the well-being of their mate. That kind of relationship blesses everyone, including children and family.
The New Testament tells us to conform to the laws of the land (1 Peter 2:13-15 and Romans 13:1-2), but the state may recognize relationships that God does not. Some people may want to marry their dog, cat, or chimpanzee, but God does not recognize such relationships. Cohabitation is not marriage and fails to bring the kind of blessings marriage brings. Studies show that cohabitation does not produce lasting relationships. Even though the LGBTQ community has adopted its own concept of marriage, the evidence does not indicate that it offers the stability and closeness God wants us to have.
As one who has been married for 61 years at the time of this writing, I can tell you that God’s system of marriage works. Jesus dealt with this issue many times. In Matthew 19:4-5, He repeats the message of Genesis. His critics asked why Moses allowed a perversion of God’s original plan for marriage. Jesus’ response was, “Because you knew so little of the meaning of love, but it was not intended that way at the beginning” (Phillips translation). How true that is in today’s world.
— John N. Clayton © 2022