There is no doubt about it – The Bible highly esteems marriage. At the very start of Scripture, we’re witnesses to the first marriage ceremony in all creation: Adam being united to Eve, his bride, in Genesis 2:18-25. When asked about divorce and remarriage, Jesus points back to the foundation of marriage by describing God’s design for human sexuality at creation, the way things were supposed to be before man disobeyed Him:
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6, ESV)
What exactly is God’s original design for marriage?
One Man + One Woman
As seen in Matthew 19, Jesus first reminded His followers that in the very beginning, God made us in His own image, male and female. Men and women are different, yet complementary; specifically designed by God to complete each other. Both are intrinsically valuable. The male body and the female body show us we are physically complementary, but being a man or a woman isn’t only about biology; a husband and wife fit together in body, soul and spirit.
In Lifelong Union
Jesus also pointed His followers to God’s plan for marriage. Marriage uniquely brings together a man and a woman so the two may become one. God established marriage to be a lifelong, faithful relationship between a husband and a wife — full of joy, love and intimacy. Marriage is a relationship where two people, joined to each other and to God, listen and talk to each other, pray and worship together, share work and ministry in the world and create and raise a family together.
With Sexual Intimacy
Sex is a good thing, as it was created by God. Sexual desire moves us toward intimacy with another, and marriage is the one place God established for sexual love to occur. Such intimacy is powerful, uniting two people physically, emotionally and spiritually. God’s desire was for a married couple to enjoy each other without fear, hiding or shame.
Bringing New Life
The marriage relationship was also intended to be fruitful. After all, one of the more obvious results of a sexual relationship is children. A husband and wife typically bring new life into the world. God designed marriage to join them to each other to be mother and father to their children. Mom and dad are the two best people to provide for and educate their children. Because marriage creates, nurtures and equips the next generation, it rests at the foundation of society — before government, religion, schools or other man-made institutions.
Reflecting a Spiritual Picture
While every person reflects aspects of the image of God, a husband and wife union is the most important picture in the Bible of how intimate our relationship with God can be. God is portrayed as the Husband who loves us, and we are the wife, who responds back to Him. In the New Testament, Christ is pictured as the groom; the Church is His bride. Marriage shows us how deep and intimate our relationship with God can be!
In honoring God’s design for marriage, we uphold the union of one man and one woman, united for life, with loving intimacy that reflects Christ, and capable of bringing new life into the world. Most importantly, every marriage — even those not consciously aimed at God’s glory — images the greater covenant between Christ, the redeemer-husband, and the Church, His sinful but blood-bought bride.
Adapted from The Foundation of Marriage by Jeff Johnston
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Used by permission from Focus on the Family.