With so much talk about sexual identity and homosexuality, it important as Christians that we study what the God has to say about marriage. What is biblical marriage? That question has often come across as odd to me because it seems to imply that there are other types of marriage, when in fact marriage is and will always be a concept that we define from the Bible. Outside of that truth, marriage is not existent. What defines marriage is not simply a ceremony, a beautiful dress, or a wedding cake. Marriage is about the purpose for which it was created. Maybe that is not something you have ever considered before or concerned yourself with, but at some point, you will have to examine the idea of marriage and where it came from.
God is the Creator of marriage! But it is not just that he is the creator of marriage, He is the Creator of everything. To understand marriage is to understand that we are created by a Creator and made in the image of that Creator, not as a god, but we reflect the character of God. Unfortunately, because of our rebellious nature we fall short of reflecting God’s character.
To help us understand that, look at Genesis 1:1 which says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." and then in Genesis 1:26-27 we read that God created mankind in his image and in his likeness..."he created them male and female" which it's obvious that God created two different, by His design, sexes. As we continue into Genesis 2:20-25, this passage tells us that God intended marriage to be between one man and one woman united spiritually, emotionally, physically, publicly, and legally in a lifetime bond of loyal love in a right relationship with God. That of course only establishes the union but not the purpose of marriage.
Taking this further we read in Genesis 1 that on the sixth day God had created his jewel of all that he created. Humans were to bear an image of God with the mandate to be fruitful and multiply. This means that each family is to mirror the character of God throughout history in order that God's glory is seen. The purpose for marriage will always be that God's glory is visible in creation from one generation to the next.
That of course does not tell the entire story of what marriage is to God. In Genesis chapter three there is a complete breakdown between the first marriage of Adam and Eve that resulted in separation from God. They chose, just as we have chosen, to disobey God. As a result, sin enters the world and no longer are we eternally with God. But God delivers a promise of redemption in Genesis three that he will rescue us from the penalty of sin and death. This promise is delivered to us in not only the Old Testament but also the New Testament and tells God's story of redemption of man to himself in terms of marriage. How God relates to Israel throughout the Old Testament and Jesus to us in the New Testament, is spoken in terms of not only marriage but a wedding. This is significant because we learn not only about the character of God, but how intimate He wants to be in our lives. So much so that God gives his Son as a ransom in order that we would be saved.
God demonstrates that marriage is not about the selfish desires of attraction between humans, but rather the selfless sacrifice of dying to self and living to die for another regardless of what they have or have not done for you. But this is not how the world sees marriage today. In fact, marriage today is all about self. It rarely starts off that way, but often ends with the two renegotiating the terms of marriage. In today’s culture marriage is treated as a contract rather than a covenant. In the Bible we can see that there are examples of how marriage is referred to in terms of a covenant that cannot be broken. Therefore, marriage is so important in terms of our salvation. God has made a promise and within that promise is His covenant made to each and every person that if they put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, they will have eternal life. This is a promise that God cannot break based on the covenant He had made.
Paul's wisdom in Ephesians 5:25-32 gives us a clearer picture of what marriage should look like for not only husbands and wives, but as you will read it is a metaphor for the church who is the bride of Christ;
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for herto make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church" (NIV).
Wives have a responsibility as well in Ephesians 5:22-24.
"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
Here is something to notice between both passages that Paul is communicating to us. Men, you have a greater responsibility in that God is going to hold you accountable more so than your wife. Men are the head of their home, family and marriage which serve to lead and guide the next generation. Both husband and wife are created equal in God's image but given a duty to the Kingdom of God to serve each other differently. Marriage is a ministry. It serves to bring God's plan of redemption to a lost and dying world.
This is a topic of discussion that we can certainly go deeper on. Please take some time to study biblical marriage on your own and with your wife. Get involved in a marriage class and ministry. If you have a strong marriage, that's great. Keep going to marriage bible studies and seminars. We have an enemy who wants to destroy not only your marriage, but the institution of marriage as God has created it. The more you immerse yourself in studying God's Word, the more powerful your marriage is and will be a testimony to others for the gospel. If you want to know where your first ministry is–it's in your marriage. Marriage is a reflection of God's character. You and your wife are created, as with the rest of humanity in the image of God and when you join in marriage it should be pointing to the gospel of Jesus Christ and strengthens the body of Christ. This is why Paul says in Ephesians 5:32 that marriage is such a mystery.