What is Marriage All About?
Is marriage a fading tradition with no real meaning in this modern world? Is it becoming obsolete? Why should people commit to marriage if the divorce rate is so high? We need to understand why marriage is so important to God.
Let’s begin by going to the beginning. In Genesis 1:27-28 we read God created man and woman in His image. He also told man and woman to be fruitful and multiply. Genesis 2:22-24 tells us the woman was made from the man and men and women should come together as one flesh. An interesting point to consider in this is the relationship between the Father and the Son who are described as one (John 10:30) just like the relationship between a man and woman.
God is also described as love and in order for a man and woman to operate as one there has to be love in the relationship. I believe God brings men and women together to have them come to a better understanding of what love is. As many married couples will tell you, marriage is not always easy, but through the relationship of marriage great spiritual lessons can be learned. Due to the differences between males and females conflicts are bound to arise. The lessons in marriage come from putting aside your needs for the other and vice-versa.
Losing yourself in the marriage is similar to giving up yourself for God. Notice how Ephesians 5:22-33 it tells us the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. In other words the husband takes the leadership role, but this does not mean the domineering role. Because it also tells us husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. In other words, husbands have to sacrifice for their wives giving of themselves as servants.
The other major point to address is that God wants men and women to reproduce. The profound thing about this is if man and woman are in the image of God then what they reproduce is also in God’s image. Why does God want to create more and more beings in His image?
God is reproducing after His own kind just like the animals mentioned in Genesis were reproducing after their kind. God uses marriage as the method by which He increases His family. This is why marriage is such a profound institution. It is the very means by which God is increasing His family. Notice these scriptures that address this family that God is creating. Romans 8:14-17 tells us we are co-heirs with Christ and will be glorified with Him. I Corinthians 15:45-49 expresses we shall take on the image of Christ at the resurrection. Christ says in John 17:21-22, He wants us to have the glory that He and the Father have. Many other scriptures express this same truth. Marriage is not something to be taken lightly. We must be cognizant of the importance of and what marriage is before we decide to enter into this profound institution.
Since marriage is so important to God, why would divorce be permitted in God’s law (Deuteronomy 24)? We can understand this better when we look at Matthew 19:4-8, which states that God does not want divorce, but it was allowed due to man’s imperfection. God does not want anyone to divorce but allowance has been made because continuing a problem marriage could lead to even more sin and heartache if the marriage were not dissolved.
We read in Matthew that God allows divorce if one of the marriage partners has committed adultery but can divorce be allowed for any other circumstances? Another example where divorce would be permitted would be in the case of a believer married to an unbeliever. If the unbeliever opts out of the marriage then the believing brother or sister is no longer bound to the marriage (I Corinthians 7:12-15). Fraud could also be grounds for a divorce. If it was discovered after a marriage that one or the other spouse wasn’t a virgin when they married, the marriage could be considered non-binding (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).
The Bible does not provide other reasons for divorce, but the law does not provide us a ruling for every possible situation. We sometimes have to determine the intent of the law from what we know about the law. For example, let’s say a husband was beating his wife on a regular basis and he would not seek help for his sin, do you think divorce should be permitted in such a case? Of course it should. The husband beating his wife is engaging in a sinful action. Even though God hates divorce it could be permitted in such a case because God is a God of mercy (Matthew 9:13). This woman needs to get away from that man to protect herself. What if a husband or a wife became an alcoholic or a drug addict and there were children in this marriage. What if the addicted spouse psychologically or physically abuses the children and will not seek help? Should the other spouse be bound in such a situation? I think not, the destructive behavior of one of the marriage partner’s is sin that could lead to the greater harm of those in the family.
Committing to marriage is a commitment to giving up yourself. There are many reasons the divorce rate is so high, one of the reasons could be that many do not understand the enormous effort it takes to give your self completely to someone else. Make sure you count the cost before you take your marriage vows and realize that the deep spiritual meaning of marriage is not something to take lightly.