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God is the designer of marriage, instituting it with our first human parents, Adam and Eve. Adam was initially the only human being God created (Genesis 2:7), and we do not know how long he remained alone.
Adam was given the responsibility of naming the animals God had created, but there was no companion for him (Genesis 2:20). By observing the animal kingdom, Adam would have been constantly reminded he was the lone human being on the planet. He was a male with no corresponding female.
God knew this and said, “…It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him' " (Genesis 2:18). He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and created Eve out of one of his ribs (Genesis 2:21-22). The Hebrew word for "made" is banah and is translated "build." God literally built Eve to be the perfect complement for Adam. Adam’s first recorded words regarding Eve were, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man" (Genesis 2:23).
In the next two verses God outlines the basis of marriage as He established it. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:24-25).
An important aspect of marriage is leaving "father and mother," and establishing a new family unit. Adam and Eve did not have physical parents to leave, but future generations would need to apply this instruction.
Honoring parents and seeking their advice is advisable, but newlyweds need to remember they are a new family unit. Two people 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 3:1,7).
Genesis 2:24 says a husband should be "joined" to his wife. Other translations say he should cling or cleave to her. Besides God, she should be his highest commitment. Many husbands and wives describe their mates as their best friends. This is the kind of bond God desires for every marriage.
People whose marriages are failing often say they have lost the desire for a special relationship with their mate. Some marriage partners have rekindled this desire by asking God for a loving, humble attitude and doing things to show love to their mate, even when they don't feel like it. Many married people have found that the feelings they longed for returned when they decided to do the things that bind two people together.
A husband and wife are to become one flesh, that is, enjoy an intimate sexual relationship. Candidates for marriage should develop a deep and lasting friendship, but should not indulge in a sexual relationship until after the marriage ceremony. Most people fail to follow God's instructions in this matter. "Dating" someone often means "sleeping" with them. In Western societies the overwhelming majority of young adults engage in sexual intercourse before marriage.
God intended sex to be part of the marriage relationship (Hebrews 13:4). His instruction for us to refrain from fornication (sex before marriage) and adultery (sex when one or both sex partners is married to someone else) is a safeguard for our marriages (1 Corinthians 6:9,18). Jesus warned that "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Males and females alike need to control their minds and dress modestly to discourage sexual arousal outside of marriage.
Paul told the early Church to remember that God calls Christians to holiness and not to defraud or mistreat others in marriage or the relationships leading up to it (1 Thessalonians 4:6-7): "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel [tspouse] in sanctification and honor" (verses 3-4).
The desire for a happy, lasting marriage blessed with children who grow up to be successful, morally responsible adults is a universal dream. The Bible contains the key instructions for accomplishing this.
The Good News magazine (May-Jun 1997)