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Divorce plagues humanity in almost every nation. Marriages are failing at abysmally high rates, with the tragic result that more and more children are being raised in single-parent homes.
When God created human beings, He made us male and female (Genesis 1:27). Then in verse 31 we are told, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Sexuality in human beings was designed to be extremely good when used as God intended. Sadly, many people through immoral sexual behavior belittle what God intended to be a very special experience.
An important aspect of marriage is leaving “father and mother,” to establish a new family unit (Genesis 2:24-25). Adam and Eve did not have physical parents to leave, but future generations would need to apply this instruction. Just because things were done a particular way in your family does not mean your spouse will want to do things the same way. Husbands and wives must learn to work together in marriage, showing respect and love to each other, following the biblical principles of wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving and honoring their wives (Ephesians 5:22, 25; 1 Peter 3:1 and 7).
Another principle from Genesis 2:24 is a husband should be “joined” to or “cleave” to his wife. Other than God, she should be his highest commitment. Even though God allowed the practice of polygamy during the Old Testament period, it was not God’s intent from the beginning. In listing the qualifications of bishops, or overseers, of the Church, 1 Timothy 3:2 makes it clear they must “be blameless, the husband of one wife.”
The next principle from Genesis 2 is that a husband and wife shall become one flesh; that is, enjoy an intimate sexual relationship with one another (Genesis 2:24). While God wants those planning to marry to develop a deep and lasting friendship, He also teaches we should not indulge in sex until after the marriage ceremony.
In Western societies the majority of young adults engage in sexual intercourse before marriage, believing it is a wise decision enabling them to know if they are “sexually compatible.” However the Bible instructs us to refrain from any kind of sexual activity before or outside of marriage (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 18; 7:2-5).
God’s guidelines for marriage also reveal Adam and Eve were naked, but they were not embarrassed (Genesis 2:25). Within marriage a husband and wife should feel comfortable with each other’s masculinity or femininity. But revealing too much of one’s body to others can lead to breaking God’s commands against lust and unlawful sexual relations. Jesus warned “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
The Apostle Paul’s explanation that marriage is modeled on the relationship that would ultimately exist between Christ and the Church, teaches us about leadership within the husband-wife relationship. Just as Jesus is the head of the Church, husbands are to be the leaders within their marriages (Ephesians 5:23-24). The way Jesus leads the Church is the way husbands should lead their wives (verses 25-29).
Sometimes men and women have mistakenly assumed these instructions were sexist and demeaning to women. But in the context of Paul’s explanation, this instruction is most respectful of both sexes and represents an important key for happy marriages.
When genuine love and respect prevail in a marriage, the husband and wife learn much from each other. Each brings strengths into the relationship, when they apply the biblical instructions. Marriage is one of God’s most wonderful gifts to mankind, and His instructions are as valid today as ever.
Beyond Today Magazine (Jul-Aug 2022)