This year I’ve been having difficulties in my marriage. If you’ve read any of my posts on this site, I’m sure you’ve run across it once or twice. In our efforts to rebuild our relationship I’ve been taking stock of what marriage is all about. These feelings, in conjunction with what our society has been dealing with in recent years in defining exactly what marriage is, I wanted to bring all of this ideas together and simply explore what marriage is and should be to followers of Yeshua and why maintaining that is important.
Starting off in Genesis we have Adam. The Father created Adam and he was alone, unique in his way of life. We don’t really know how long Adam was alone but The Lord recognized that Adam was incomplete. He needed a companion, an equal in capacity, but one that could support Him in all his efforts. I suppose YHVH and Adam hung out together, naming animals and talking about great things, but The Lord recognized something in Adam that he needed and from Adam’s own body He created Eve.
In The King James Version of the Bible the story goes like this:
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
I prefer the narrative structure of the International Standard Version (I removed the footnotes for clarity, but you can click on the verse to get those alternative translations and clarifications):
The Creation of the Woman
18 Later, the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the woman to be an authority corresponding to him.” 19 After the LORD God formed from the ground every wild animal and every bird that flies, he brought each of them to the man to see what he would call it. Whatever the man called each living creature became its name. 20 The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds that fly, and to each of earth’s animals, but there was not found a strength corresponding to him, 21 so the LORD God caused a deep sleep to overshadow the man.
When the man was asleep, he removed one of the man’s ribs and closed up the flesh where it had been. 22 Then the LORD God formed the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 So the man exclaimed,
“At last! This is
bone from my bones
and flesh from my flesh.
This one will be called ‘Woman,’
because she was taken from Man.”
24 (Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife, and they will become one flesh.)
Although the King James has a timeless quality to it, the ISV has a flow, much like the original texts, that make it easier to understand.
This story is important because it shows us that men and woman come from the same place ultimately and they were created explicitly for each other. There is only one other participant in this relationship and that is The Lord, the one that created the relationship. There isn’t another person, male or female here, there isn’t a harem of women to sex the man up, and there isn’t a “sister wives” concept. Although these things do exist in the Bible, the Lord never approved them. These are contrivances of man.
There are three beings in this relationship. The Lord – as the creator of the relationship, The Husband – a son of the Lord, as the Christ like figure – the leader, in the relationship, and the woman that serves as the support structure – the spirit, of the relationship. Do you see the parallel? Our marriage is a model of the Godhead, and this makes it sacred. Any violation of that breaks the model and becomes as the Bible puts it an “abomination.” That means taking something holy and making it unholy.
When we look at Ephesians 5:22-5:33 we also have another dimension to the marriage now that Christ was revealed.
Ephesians Chapter 5
5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
These verses tell us that a woman should yield control of the family to the husband, as she yields control of her life to the Lord. The roles of the Husband and Wife are immediately ordained with the Husband as the leader.
I’m sure many Christian women have heard this from their Husbands and many other women over the years have had it used against them as a means to hold them down, but women are not to be trodden underfoot in this model. The purpose of the man is leadership. We desire certain qualities in our leaders. Women should hold the same standard to their men before marrying. For Christians, we have the ultimate leader and that is Yeshua. Husbands should (attempt to) exemplify Him in everything they do. They must love, lead, guide, provide, protect, and care for the wife at all times. Even though difficult times are always around the corner, he must be humble, offering forgiveness first and seeking it in return.
Unlike the simple men of yesteryear we will seek the whole counsel of God by simply reading the following verses that emphasis these ideas even further:
5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
The duty of a husband is to give himself to his wife. To sacrifice himself, if not in reality, as Adam did for Eve in Genesis, then in spirit. Adam was not tricked by the shining one. He knew that the apple would damn him if he ate it, but he took it to share in that fate with the woman he loved the most. She had loved Him and He would love her in exchange. With that the Lord was able to begin constructing the most beautiful love letter to His children ever: the act of redemption upon a cross.
The man shares in life with the wife, doing everything in his power to see to her needs. This action cleanses the wife, setting her apart and above all others and should make her feel loved and special, set apart from all others. This makes her submission to his lead not a burden to bear, but a joy for both to be consumed in love. In life in which the man takes on the world, head on, and the wife supports his endeavors. They lean on each other in times of trouble, never forgetting the order of things. Any arrangement or interference outside of this becomes sin.
5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
In many marriages the in-laws of each spouse become a voice in the relationship causing numerous problems. When a man and a woman get married they are leaving behind their former lives to take up a brand new life with their spouse. Just as we are taking up a new life with Christ. Although the parents are not necessarily removed from the picture, the desires and opinions of the parents become secondary to the needs and desires of the spouse. For both the husband and the wife, the loyalty to each other comes first, paramount to all things. If the needs and desires of the parents cause conflict with the husband and wife, they must be left behind. The husband and wife become one flesh, joined together as one. Nothing else matters outside of that. This eliminates any stressful situation that may arise and becomes sound advice for all turbulence in a marriage: put each other first before anything!
In verse 32 above Paul shows us that the marriage is a mystery, or hidden thing. The marriage is used as a model to convey truths about the Lord and his plans for us and His relationship to us.
As a Christian you should always be asking yourself “Does this glorify the Lord in any way?” If the answer is no, you should probably move on from it. The question about marriage is just as simple. If what you are doing doesn’t serve or support your marriage, in the end you are doing your spouse and your family a disservice which will ultimately lead to lack of intimacy. This lack of intimacy may result in wandering eyes, broken trust, and even broken hearts. Those that focus on themselves excessively disrupt the order of things and cause pain in the divine order of things. Don’t “worry” about yourself because someone else should be “worrying” about you.
These are some notes that Dr. Chuck Missler had on the subject that summarize the overarching points of what Paul is trying to convey in Ephesians nicely:
Mystical basis of Marriage:
- Biological – Procreation
- Psychological – A union that meets life’s challenges
- Sociological – Family unit as the primary element of the tribe/ community/ nation
- Supernatural – God’s ordained unit through which he conveys intimate truths
Spiritual basis of Marriage:
- Preeminence: Christ is the head of the House, your Husband is the head of the House – he takes preeminence over all, including your children, because, when you put Him first, all things take care of themselves
- Love for the Church: Of the Church, the wife becomes the most sacred affection in His life
- Preciousness: as a result of above, he will do anything to preserve her and keep her safe. This focus on one another makes them each special to the other.
All these things above should form the basis and backbone of your marriage.