The Bible teaches that everything God made serves a greater purpose and fits into a greater plan. When He speaks, even nature listens. The celestial bodies move and serve their objectives with mathematical accuracy. Humans find their very existence in Him.
The Significance of Human Life
When it comes to human life, there is no denying that it holds a special place in God’s design. From the moment we are born until we take our last breath, every moment of our existence is filled with meaning and purpose. It is a journey that God has mapped out for us, and it is up to us to follow His guidance and find fulfilment in His plan for our lives.
One of the most significant aspects of human life is the relationships we form with others. God designed us to be social creatures, to thrive on interaction and connection with others. And at the heart of this socialization is the concept of marriage.
The Biblical Model of Marriage
Marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman, designed by God to provide a framework for intimate relationships and to serve as a foundation for the family unit. In the Bible, marriage is described as a “one flesh” union, where the husband and wife become united in body, soul, and spirit.
This model of marriage was established by God in the Garden of Eden, where He created Adam and Eve and declared that they would become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Throughout the Bible, we see examples of marriages that were founded on God’s principles and flourished, as well as those that were characterized by disobedience and suffered the consequences.
The Natural Purpose of Marriage
The purpose of marriage is multifaceted. Firstly, it is a covenant between a man and a woman, designed to be a lifelong commitment. In marriage, couples commit to loving and cherishing one another, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, until death do they part.
Secondly, marriage is intended to provide a framework for intimacy and sexual expression. In the context of marriage, sexual relations are not only permissible but are encouraged, serving as a means of deepening the emotional, physical, and spiritual bond between husband and wife.
Thirdly, marriage is the foundation of the family unit. Children are a gift from God, and it is through the union of a man and a woman that children are conceived and brought into the world. In marriage, parents have the responsibility of raising their children in a loving and nurturing environment, teaching them the ways of God, and preparing them for their own journey in life.
The Biblical model of marriage is God’s design for intimate relationships, founded on His principles and intended to serve as the foundation of the family unit. It is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman, designed to provide a framework for intimacy, commitment, and the raising of children in a loving and nurturing environment.
Humans are the only creatures on Earth of whom it is claimed,
“God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Man became a living soul” (Genesis 2: 7).
As we navigate the complexities of life, it is essential to remember that God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, including our relationships. By seeking His guidance and following His principles, we can build strong and lasting relationships that honour Him and bring joy and fulfilment to our lives.
The Establishment of Marriage
God established the institution of marriage because He said,
“It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” (Genesis 2: 18).
Marriage is a beautiful and sacred covenant that God has established for His creation. From the very beginning, God recognized that it was not good for man to be alone, and so He created woman as a helpmeet for him. In the Bible, we see that God’s design for marriage is clear and straightforward, and if we follow His instructions, we can experience the joy and fulfilment that comes with a lifelong commitment.
Separate from Your Parents
The first step in God’s design for marriage is for a man to leave his parents and become united with his wife. This separation is not only physical but emotional and psychological as well. It means that a man must relinquish his dependence on his parents and become fully committed to his spouse. It requires sacrifice and commitment but is a crucial step in establishing a healthy and fulfilling marriage.
Commit Yourself to Your Spouse
The second step in God’s design for marriage is for a man and woman to commit themselves to each other. This commitment is not just a legal contract or a social arrangement but is a covenant before God. It involves a promise to love and cherish one another, to remain faithful in good times and bad, and to honour the commitment for a lifetime.
Become One Flesh
The third step in God’s design for marriage is for a man and woman to become one flesh. This means that they become united in body, soul, and spirit. It involves a deep level of emotional, physical, and spiritual intimacy and requires vulnerability and transparency. This step requires that we put our spouse’s needs above our own and that we seek to serve and love them unconditionally.
Reveal All; Have No Shame
The final step in God’s design for marriage is for a man and woman to reveal all to one another and have no shame. This means that we must be completely honest and transparent with our spouse, sharing our hopes, fears, dreams, and struggles. It requires that we trust our spouse and create a safe and secure environment where we can be vulnerable and authentic.
God’s design for marriage is a beautiful and sacred covenant between a man and a woman. It involves separating from our parents, committing ourselves to our spouse, merging together as one flesh, and revealing all to one another with no shame. By following these steps, we can experience the joy and fulfilment that comes with a lifelong commitment to our spouse. We must seek God’s guidance and rely on His wisdom and grace to establish and maintain a healthy and fulfilling marriage.
The Importance of Leaving One’s Parents
Leaving one’s parents is an essential step in establishing a healthy and fulfilling marriage. It is not just a physical separation but an emotional and psychological one as well. It involves a shift in priorities and a change in the way we relate to our parents. This step is critical because it creates space for the couple to form a new family unit and build their own life together.
The order to leave one’s parents is reciprocal. The man or woman has to go; the parent has to let go. Conflict is certain if neither spouse leaves voluntarily and neither parent gives up. The wheels of divorce have started grinding and the oil has seeped out of the marital case. This marriage has already begun because of God’s will. Cleaving cannot occur if one partner is reluctant to separate, whether out of ignorance or any other reason.
One of the most common reasons for marital conflict is when one or both partners are unwilling or unable to leave their parents. This reluctance can stem from a variety of reasons, such as fear of abandonment, a sense of obligation to parents, or a lack of understanding of the importance of leaving. Whatever the reason, this reluctance can have a detrimental impact on the marriage.
When a couple fails to leave their parents, it creates a sense of emotional dependency that can be challenging to break. This dependency can prevent the couple from fully committing to each other and can hinder their ability to form a healthy and fulfilling marital bond. It can also create tension and conflict between the couple and their respective parents.
To avoid this, it is important for couples to understand the significance of leaving their parents and to take steps to do so. This involves a willingness to let go of old patterns and relationships and embrace the new life and family unit that they are creating together. It requires a shift in priorities, where the spouse and the marriage become the primary focus rather than the parents.
Leaving one’s parents can be a challenging and emotional process, but it is a necessary step in establishing a healthy and fulfilling marriage. It requires courage, commitment, and a willingness to let go of the past and embrace the future. It also requires the support and understanding of both partners and their respective families.
Leaving one’s parents is an essential step in establishing a healthy and fulfilling marriage. It creates space for the couple to form a new family unit and build their own life together. It also prevents emotional dependency and allows the couple to fully commit to each other. While it may be a challenging process, it is critical to the success of the marriage and requires the support and understanding of both partners and their families. By following God’s design for marriage and leaving one’s parents, couples can experience the joy and fulfilment that comes with a lifelong commitment to each other.
Isolate And Abandon?
Leaving one’s parents does not mean abandoning them or cutting them off. It simply means creating boundaries and establishing a new family unit with one’s spouse. It is important to maintain a healthy relationship with one’s parents and to involve them in one’s life, but in a way that does not interfere with the couple’s relationship or priorities.
Leaving one’s parents involves finding a balance between maintaining a relationship with them and building a new life with one’s spouse. It means establishing clear boundaries and communicating openly and honestly with one’s parents about the couple’s needs and expectations. This can involve setting limits on the amount of time spent with parents, the frequency of visits, and the level of involvement in the couple’s life.
It is important for couples to approach this process with sensitivity and understanding towards their parents’ feelings. Leaving one’s parents can be difficult for them too, as they may feel a sense of loss or abandonment. It is important to communicate with them and reassure them that the relationship is not ending but merely evolving.
The Meaning of “Leave” and “Cleave”
The Hebrew word for “leave, is “awzab,” which means to untie, i.e., to yield, permit, and devote oneself. The word for “cleave, is “dabak,” which means to impinge; attach; adhere. In the New Testament, the Greek term “proskallao” expresses the bond between two individuals who are really in love with one another.
So, what do these words mean for a marriage?
“Leave” means that a couple must yield or permit themselves to create a new family unit. They must devote themselves to building a strong and fulfilling marriage, free from outside interference. This includes leaving behind the dependency on parents and forming their own identity as a couple.
“Cleave” means to attach or adhere, like two pieces of fabric that have been stitched together. This implies a strong bond between the couple that is not easily broken. They are meant to be committed to one another and to remain faithful throughout their marriage, as they have become one flesh.
These two concepts work together to create a balanced and fulfilling marriage. Leaving one’s parents involves letting go of past relationships and creating a new identity as a couple. Cleave, on the other hand, involves building a strong and lasting bond that can withstand the trials and tribulations of life.
Couples who take these concepts seriously are more likely to have a successful and fulfilling marriage. It means that they must be willing to prioritize their relationship and put in the effort to build a strong foundation. This involves communication, compromise, and a willingness to work through challenges together.
It is important to note that the concept of “leave and cleave” does not mean that couples should cut themselves off from all outside relationships. It simply means that they must prioritize their marriage and ensure that outside relationships do not interfere with their commitment to one another.
In fact, having a supportive network of friends and family can be incredibly beneficial for a marriage. These relationships can provide emotional support, advice, and a sense of community. However, it is important for couples to maintain boundaries and ensure that outside relationships do not interfere with their commitment to one another.
In summary, the concept of “leave and cleave” is a foundational principle of a successful and fulfilling marriage. It involves leaving behind past relationships and creating a new identity as a couple, while also building a strong and lasting bond that can withstand the challenges of life. By prioritizing their marriage and maintaining healthy boundaries, couples can create a strong and lasting bond that will bring joy and fulfilment for years to come.
The Importance of Unity and Oneness
The words “leave” and “cleave” serve as subjects and verbs, respectively. If the first two aren’t satisfied, then it’s impossible to merge into a single entity. Therefore, that highly valued unity or oneness will never result from an honest amalgamation.
Unity and oneness are two critical components of a successful and fulfilling marriage. When a couple “leaves” their parents and “cleaves” to one another, they create a new family unit that is unified in its purpose and commitment to one another.
Unity refers to the concept of being in agreement or harmony. It means that a couple must work together towards a common goal and make decisions that are in the best interest of their marriage. This involves putting aside individual desires and working towards a shared vision for the future.
Oneness, on the other hand, refers to the concept of being united as a single entity. It means that a couple must be intimately connected on all levels – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. This requires vulnerability, trust, and a willingness to be completely open and honest with one another.
The importance of unity and oneness in a marriage cannot be overstated. Couples who are united are more likely to have a successful and fulfilling marriage. They are able to navigate the challenges of life together and find joy and fulfilment in their relationship.
However, achieving unity and oneness is not always easy. It requires hard work, commitment, and a willingness to put the needs of the marriage above individual desires. This may involve compromise, sacrifice, and a willingness to forgive and move forward when conflicts arise.
Communication is also a critical component of unity and oneness. Couples must be willing to communicate openly and honestly with one another, even when it is difficult. This involves active listening, empathy, and a willingness to understand one another’s perspectives.
Finally, couples must prioritize their relationship and make time for one another. This involves setting aside time for dates, shared activities, and quality time together. It is important to maintain a strong emotional connection and intimacy in the relationship, even when life gets busy.
In conclusion, the concepts of unity and oneness are critical for a successful and fulfilling marriage. Couples who prioritize their relationship and work towards these goals are more likely to have a lasting and meaningful marriage. It requires hard work, commitment, and a willingness to put the needs of the marriage above individual desires. However, the rewards of a unified and intimate relationship are well worth the effort.
The Establishment of a New Entity
“…because we are members of his body. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:30-31)
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family. The man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)
The establishment of a new entity in marriage is a significant concept in the Biblical model of marriage. When a man and a woman get married, they become one flesh, according to the Bible. This union goes beyond a physical bond; it is a spiritual and emotional bond that is meant to last for a lifetime.
The phrase “one flesh” in the Bible means that the husband and wife become one unit, one entity. They are no longer separate individuals, but instead, they form a new identity as a couple. This is why leaving one’s parents and cleaving to one’s spouse is so crucial in the establishment of this new entity.
The concept of a new entity is essential because it implies that the two individuals are no longer operating as separate entities, but instead, as a team, united in their goals and desires in relation to their family. This is a crucial aspect of a healthy marriage, where both individuals work together to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
The establishment of a new entity in marriage also means that each partner has a role to play in the relationship. The Bible teaches that the husband is the head of the household, and the wife is his helpmeet. This does not mean that the wife is inferior to the husband; rather, it means that both partners have unique roles to play in the relationship. The husband is responsible for leading the family and providing for their needs, while the wife is responsible for supporting her husband and caring for their home.
[inline_related_posts title=”You Might Be Interested In” title_align=”center” style=”list” number=”5″ align=”right” ids=”” by=”categories” orderby=”rand” order=”DESC” hide_thumb=”no” thumb_right=”no” views=”no” date=”yes” grid_columns=”2″ post_type=”” tax=””]
In addition to the establishment of a new entity, the Bible also teaches that marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment. When a man and a woman get married, they vow to stay together for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do them part. This commitment is not to be taken lightly, and divorce is not an option in the Biblical model of marriage.
The establishment of a new entity in marriage is a crucial concept in the Biblical model of marriage. It emphasizes the importance of leaving one’s parents and cleaving to one’s spouse, forming a new identity as a couple. This new entity operates as a team, with each partner having a unique role to play in the relationship. It is also meant to be a lifelong commitment, with divorce not being an option. When couples understand and embrace this concept, they can build a strong, healthy, and lasting marriage.
Christ and Marriage
In the New Testament, marriage is often used as a metaphor to describe the relationship between Christ and His Church. Just as a husband and wife are meant to love and serve each other, Christ loves and serves His Church.
In Ephesians 5:25-33, the Apostle Paul writes,
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
The relationship between a husband and wife is meant to reflect the sacrificial love and devotion that Christ has for His Church. Just as a husband is called to love and care for his wife, so too is Christ called to love and care for His Church. And just as a wife is called to respect and submit to her husband, so too is the Church called to respect and submit to Christ.
The marriage relationship is not just important for the individuals involved, but also for the community around them. A healthy, loving marriage can have a positive impact on children, friends, family, and even strangers. And when a marriage reflects the love and devotion between Christ and His Church, it can be a powerful witness to the world.
Of course, no marriage is perfect, and we all fall short of the ideal. But by striving to love and serve each other, and by looking to Christ as our ultimate example and guide, we can build strong, healthy, and fulfilling marriages that bring glory to God.
Understanding Headship in Marriage
Headship is a concept in marriage that has been widely debated, with various interpretations based on religious and cultural beliefs. However, the biblical perspective sees headship as God’s ordained order where man is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church.
The word “head” comes from the Greek word “kephale,” meaning the head, in the sense of seizing, as a part most readily taken hold of. Literally or figuratively, this gives the husband two things: authority over the wife and responsibility for her.
When the husband is recognized as the head of the wife, there are scriptural and biological grounds for unity. On the other hand, when the wife takes upon herself the headship, this is adverse to divine order. Such a reversal deprives the man of his greatest God-given heritage and deprives the wife of the same thing.
Instinctively, the man recognizes this and feels usurped when the wife takes charge. Unfortunately, some women believe that this is proper and deserved under the circumstances. However, this is contrary to God’s plan for a home, and it often leads to grounds for divorce.
Husbands Love Your Wives
Instead, husbands are called to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Love means to be disposed to, desire, prefer, choose, intend, be minded, breathe after, sensually dote, show affection, be a friend, have a personal attachment, and embrace especially the judgment and deliberate assent. Husbands are to nourish their wives, meaning to rear them up to maturity, cherish them, train them, bring them up, pamper them, feed them, and supply them with necessary substance for life and growth.
In light of this, headship becomes a vital responsibility. The husband is responsible for his wife’s attitudes, reactions, and living. As God made him the ruler, He shall require the outcome of the union at his hands. If the husband and wife are one flesh, she is to him what Eve was to Adam, “Bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,” and what the Church is to Christ. As it is physically impossible to separate the bone from the flesh without causing death, so is it impossible to separate the man from his wife if they are one flesh? No, never!
Therefore, husbands must love their wives, nourish them, and cherish them as they would their own flesh. The connotation of origin is interesting because the one flesh originates with the consummation of the marital vows. From the beginning, this feeling should be natural and imperative. If they are one flesh, nothing should be able to separate them from each other or from the love of Christ. Headship is God’s plan for marriage, and husbands must take this responsibility seriously to ensure a harmonious and fulfilling union.
Application of Headship and Submission in Marriage
Submission does not mean that a wife must be a doormat, and headship does not mean that a husband can be a tyrant. Instead, headship should be expressed in sacrificial love, and submission should be expressed in respect and trust.
A husband who loves his wife sacrificially will put her needs before his own. He will seek to understand her, empathize with her, and support her emotionally and spiritually. He will also provide for her physically and financially, to the best of his ability. He will be her partner in life, not her dictator.
A wife who submits to her husband will respect him and trust him to lead their family in a way that honours God. She will support his decisions, even when she does not agree with them, and will offer her insights and opinions in a respectful and gentle way. She will also help to create a peaceful and loving home environment, where her husband and children can thrive.
Both headship and submission require humility and a willingness to serve. They also require a deep commitment to Christ and a desire to follow His example of sacrificial love. When both partners are willing to embrace their roles in marriage, they can experience a level of unity and intimacy that is truly beautiful.
Headship and submission are not popular concepts in today’s culture, but they are essential for a healthy and thriving marriage. As believers, we are called to follow God’s design for marriage, even when it goes against the cultural norm. By embracing headship and submission, we can create a marriage that reflects Christ’s love for His Church and brings glory to God.
Dwelling According to Knowledge
Marriage is a union of two people who have vowed to love, cherish, and honour each other until death. However, like any other human relationship, marriages can be challenging. Conflicts, misunderstandings, and miscommunications can often lead to the erosion of trust and intimacy.
The good news is that these challenges can be overcome. The key is to dwell according to knowledge.
In the same way, wives, be subject to their own husbands. Then, even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, when they see your pure and reverent conduct. Let your beauty not be external – the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight. For in the same way, the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear of doing so. Husbands, in the same way, treat their wives with consideration as the weaker partners and show them honour as fellow heirs of the grace of life. In this way, nothing will hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:1-7 )
In this passage, Peter gives practical advice to husbands and wives on how to live together in harmony and love. In this article, we will explore the meaning of this passage and how it can be applied to modern-day marriages.
Adapting to Your Spouse
Peter starts by addressing the wives, urging them to adapt and submit themselves to their husbands. He advises that even if their husbands do not obey the Word of God, they may be won by God through the pure and reverent behaviour of their wives. This means that wives should strive to be beautiful on the inside by cultivating a calm, gentle spirit that is precious in the eyes of God. This was the secret of the beauty of the holy women of ancient times, who trusted in God and were submissive to their husbands.
Similarly, husbands are advised to understand their wives and honour them as physically weaker yet equally heirs with them of the grace of eternal life. By doing so, they will be able to pray properly.
The Importance of Knowledge
Peter then advises husbands to dwell with their wives according to knowledge. The Greek word for knowledge, “gnosis,” has a wide variety of applications and implications, including allowing, being aware of, feeling, perceiving, being resolved, being sure, and understanding. Peter is encouraging husbands to see their wives completely, co-perceive problems, pressures, emotional stresses, and physical momentary unfitness, and be conscious of their moral consciousness.
The key to a happy marriage is for both partners to be conscious of the other, to see completely from the other’s viewpoint to co-perceive problems, and to understand each other. This requires each partner to be aware, willing to speak in sympathy and assurance, and resolved to know the other.
What does dwelling according to knowledge look like in practice?
It means that each partner should take the time to understand the other’s needs, wants, and desires. They should communicate clearly and honestly and make an effort to see things from the other’s perspective. When conflicts arise, they should be willing to compromise and find solutions that work for both partners.
For example, if the wife is the primary breadwinner, the couple can work together to eliminate excessive spending. If the husband is the primary caregiver for the children, they can work together to create a happy and healthy home environment. By dwelling according to knowledge, couples can create a strong and lasting marriage built on mutual respect, love, and understanding.
Unequally Yoked Together
The Bible tells us not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” but what does that mean, and how does it apply to our marriages?
“Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)
This phrase, from 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, warns us that believers and unbelievers have no common ground for spiritual fellowship. If two people do not believe alike, they cannot be true to each other or be one. Therefore, Christians should carefully consider their associations, especially during their youth, as this period can lay the foundation for happiness or tragedy in their marital life.
Marriage is a gift from God, and when we enter into it, we become one flesh. The husband and wife have the responsibility to give themselves to each other, as stated in 1 Corinthians 7. The husband has authority over his wife, but in the area of the marital relationship, the wife has power over his body. This is because the two become one flesh, and neither has the right to withhold their body from the other.
Unfortunately, many marriages fail because of this factor. Parents sometimes instil a false attitude concerning the giving of their bodies in marriage, and many couples think of this act as a duty solely for the purpose of reproduction. However, God meant what He said when He told us, “They two shall become one flesh.” This has no connotation of duty but is part of God’s creative forethought, given for the same reason food is given to man.
Every animal, including man, was created with a sexual instinct, and every animal except man obeys God’s rules. Man, having a will, wills to break the rules. Man suffers. God, knowing this, gave us specific regulations, prohibitions, and commandments, with the proper result of blessing or penalty.
Christians must be careful not to enter into marriages with unbelievers, as this can lead to spiritual incompatibility. In marriage, the husband and wife have the responsibility to give themselves to each other, and neither has the right to withhold their body from the other. This is an essential part of God’s design for marriage and should be treated with the utmost respect and understanding.
Divorce: What the Bible Says
The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, divorce, and the relationship between husbands and wives.
In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, God commands married couples to stay together:
“Let not the wife depart from her husband; but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband; and let not the husband put away his wife.”
This passage makes it clear that divorce is not God’s ideal for marriage. In fact, it is only allowed in certain circumstances.
The word “depart” in this passage has a variety of meanings and connotations, all of which are important to understand. It comes from the Greek word “choreo,” which can refer to an empty expanse, an impassable gulf, or even a heap of rubbish.
In the context of marriage, it means creating distance or space between oneself and one’s spouse, whether physically or emotionally. God commands women not to create an empty expanse between themselves and their husbands, and not to be unpleasant or irritable. If a woman does create such distance, her husband may become enraged, which can lead to mental and physical illness. Ultimately, a marriage in which such conditions prevail may end up on the rubbish heap.
Likewise, husbands are commanded not to “put away” their wives. This phrase comes from two Greek words: “aphieme” and “hiemi,” which means to send forth, forsake, leave, or yield up. Divorce is a form of abandonment, and it is only allowed in cases of infidelity or adultery.
Jesus himself said,
“Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery” (Matthew 19:9).
Despite the fact that divorce is allowed in certain circumstances, it is not God’s ideal for marriage. In fact, Jesus said that
“from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8).
Marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, in which they become “one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). Divorce may be allowed in certain cases, but it should always be a last resort, and couples should do everything they can to work through their problems and stay together.
Divorce is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. The Bible commands married couples to stay together, and divorce is only allowed in certain circumstances. Couples should do everything they can to work through their problems and stay together, rather than creating distance or abandoning one another. Marriage is meant to be a lifelong commitment, and couples should strive to honour that commitment to the best of their abilities.
The Conflicting Laws of Marriage and Divorce in the Old Testament
Marriage and divorce laws in the Old Testament may seem confusing and contradictory to modern readers. In Moses’ time, polygamy was not only permitted but also widely practised, even among the Israelites who were supposed to be following God’s laws. However, the Israelites were moving towards monogamy, as even beloved patriarchs with multiple wives often fell into sin and caused problems between rival wives and mixed children.
The customs of heathen lands also influenced marriage laws in the Old Testament. For example, Arab husbands could divorce their wives with only a spoken word, leading heathen wives to adorn themselves with costly jewellery and accessories as a form of security in case of rejection.
Peter understood the importance of inner beauty and a gentle spirit in attracting and maintaining the love of a believer in Christ. Paul also emphasized God’s principle of marriage, stating that Bishops, Elders, and Deacons should only have one wife, rejecting the heathen custom of polygamy.
Moses allowed polygamy and divorce because of the Israelites’ stubbornness and hard hearts, but the sin of adultery was punishable by death. Betrothal, a spoken covenant between families, was equivalent to modern-day engagement while taking a wife was the actual marriage. During the betrothal period, Mary was visited by an angel and became pregnant with Jesus, causing Joseph to contemplate quietly putting her away.
Jesus clarified the standard of marriage, stating that Moses permitted divorce due to the hardness of their hearts, but from the beginning, it was not so. Divorce should not be taken lightly, and the exception clause for fornication only frees the man from his promise or covenant of betrothal. Jesus emphasized that what God has joined together, no one should separate.
Understanding the customs and laws of marriage and divorce in the Old Testament requires context and historical knowledge. As believers in Christ, we should seek to follow God’s principles and laws, treating marriage with respect and honouring the covenant we make with our spouses.
Believers and Unbelievers
When one spouse is a believer and the other is not, it can create a lot of conflicts. In 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, Paul addresses this issue, stating that if a believer is married to an unbeliever and the unbeliever is willing to stay, the believer should not leave them. This is because the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believer, and their children are considered holy.
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which has an husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:12-15)
But what happens if the unbeliever decides to leave?
In such cases, the believer is not bound to stay in the marriage. Paul makes it clear that God has called us to peace, and if the unbelieving spouse chooses to depart, the believer is not under bondage.
However, some may argue that Paul contradicts himself when he later says in 1 Corinthians 7:39 that the woman is only free to remarry if her husband is dead. But it’s important to note that Paul is not discussing remarriage in the context of marriage to an unbeliever.
The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:39)
In Romans 7:1-3, where Paul talks about the law, he uses the same language to explain the principle of how a woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive.
Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law is lord over a person as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage. So then, if she is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she is joined to another man, she is not an adulteress. (Romans 7:1-3)
Understanding the nuances of the original Greek language is crucial in interpreting these scriptures. The word “dead” in Greek means off, away from something near in various senses of place, time, or relationship. It denotes separation, departure, cessation, completion, or reversal. This means that when Paul says the woman is free to remarry only if her husband is dead, he is referring to a complete and permanent separation.
It’s important to remember that marriage is a sacred union established by God. As believers, we should seek to marry someone who shares our faith so that we can build a strong foundation together. However, in situations where a believer is married to an unbeliever, the believer should strive to maintain peace and harmony in the marriage as much as possible. But ultimately, if the unbeliever chooses to leave, the believer is not bound to stay in the marriage.
God’s design for marriage is perfect. Humans were not meant for a solitary existence, and thus the man marries. It’s either God’s will or his own. If he follows the plan and God brings them together, they haven’t done much more than meet the minimum requirements for married life. The next step is to work out all the kinks and make the necessary modifications to make this union work.
Then comes the process of building a lifelong partnership based on love, trust, respect, and mutual understanding. It takes commitment, sacrifice, and a willingness to put the other person’s needs before your own. Marriage is not always easy, but it is worth it when both partners are committed to making it work.
It’s important to remember that every marriage is unique, and what works for one couple may not work for another. However, there are some key principles that can help strengthen any marriage, such as effective communication, conflict resolution skills, and a shared vision for the future.
Marriage is a beautiful and fulfilling institution, but it requires effort and commitment from both partners. By dwelling according to knowledge, couples can create a strong and lasting relationship built on mutual respect, love, and understanding. Take the time to understand your spouse, communicate clearly and honestly, and make an effort to see things from their perspective. With these principles in mind, you can create a happy and fulfilling marriage that lasts a lifetime.
Marriage is a holy institution that must be taken seriously and done in accordance with God’s pattern. Divorce should not be taken lightly and should only be considered in certain scriptural circumstances. Remarriage is permissible in God’s eyes when death or an unbeliever’s departure separates a couple. Finally, we must reject tradition and embrace the Truth of God’s Word, loving one another as Christ loved the Church.
Blessings and peace,