couple wedding
With the rise of same-sex marriage, here's a fresh reminder of the biblical foundation of marriage. (iStockPhoto)

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With divorce and remarriage rising, and the very definition of "marriage" being debated, it's time we review matrimony's biblical origins. Scripture reveals marriage two ways: God's and man's.

Genesis unveils marriage God's way. Perceiving man's need of a loving companion, God decreed, "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Gen. 2:18). So He pronounced His plan: "I will make him an help fit for him" (2:18). God first prepared the man for his wife, creating a deficiency only she could fill: "The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and...took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh" (2:21).

Then He prepared the wife for her man, carefully forming her to be "meet" (2:18), or "suitable" (NIV) and "just right" (NLT), for him in every way: "The rib...made he a woman" (2:22). Afterwards He presented the wife to her man: "And brought her unto the man" (2:22). Delighted, man proclaimed God's provision perfect: "This is now ['At last!' NLT] bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" (2:23). The first couple then adapted to their new living arrangement: "They were both naked...and were not ashamed" (2:25). Satisfaction and children followed. This was marriage God's way.

It was heterosexual, not homosexual; monogamous, not polygamous; lifelong, not temporary. It was pure, without adultery; faithful, without abandonment; loving, without abuse. It was also fruitful, not futile, fulfilling God's primary purpose: "Be fruitful, and multiply" (Gen. 1:28).

Delighted, God proclaimed Adam's union His prototype: "Therefore shall a man [henceforth] leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh [like Adam and Eve]" (2:24). The Bible then describes marriage man's way.

Before the flood, men preferred polygamy (harems or unlimited successive marriages) to monogamy: "They took them wives of all they chose" (Gen. 6:2). This demonically inspired indulgence hastened society's moral decay and divine judgment (6:3). The indiscriminate intermarriage of the godly and ungodly lines corrupted families and children.

Soon the world's social fabric fell apart. Maliciousness, murder, and chaos ruled (6:5, 11-13). Why? "All flesh had corrupted his way..." (6:12). This reckless, ruinous "marrying and giving in marriage" continued till the flood (Matt. 24:38). Stunning as it was, God's judgment didn't change fallen man's way.

In Jesus' day, many Jewish men divorced their wives "for every cause" (Matt. 19:3), or frivolously, to take new wives "of all whom they chose." Christians today are tragically similar. Despite God's grace, gifts, and goodness, Christians divorce spouses invalidly (without biblical cause) and take new ones "of all whom we choose." This has dishonored marriage, split families, confused children, and weakened our witness.

Consequently, our culture's dizzying freefall into immorality has reached a new, dark low. We now take same-sex life partners "of all we choose!" Bizarre, confusing, corrupting, and fruitless, this is marriage modern man's way. But God remains unchanged.

He still follows His way when "joining" Christians in marriage as He did Adam and Eve: "What...God hath joined together" (Matt. 19:6). We marvel at the Matchmaker.

Seeing single Christians' needs, He quietly gives them hope He will meet them His way. He then prepares a man for his wife by making him willing to seek God's wisdom, accept responsibility, and lovingly and faithfully provide for his soul mate.

He prepares a wife for her man by reshaping her thinking until she's willing to graciously submit to a husband's leadership, competently add whatever he lacks, and willingly work alongside him in their family and church. One fine day, when they least expect it, He arranges for them to meet. Soon they acknowledge His hand in their meeting, join their hands in marriage, and adapt to their new life together. And bear fruit!

They produce natural fruit—children born into families. Or spiritual fruit—sinners reborn into church families. Or both! If they abide near their Matchmaker, they yield Him the Christlike "fruit of the Spirit" daily (Gal. 5:22-23).

Also, their joint prayers, obedience, and labors help churches and ministries plant, grow, and mature "the precious fruit of the earth" (James 5:7)—a priceless, End-Time "crop" of fully taught, trained, and tested Christians ready to be "harvested" to heaven, "married" to Christ, and prepared to return with Him to reign for a thousand years!

In these and other ways the divinely appointed "joining" of Christian couples will achieve God's primary purpose in marriage: natural and spiritual fruit! This fruit will help save, not destroy families; redeem, not ruin, society; bless, not curse, nations. That's marriage God's way.

Anything less or other is marriage man's way. Learn, live, and labor for marriage God's way.

Adapted from Not by Bread Alone by Greg Hinnant, copyright 2011, published by Creation House.

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