The Institution of Marriage
One of the most popular Scripture verses of all time is John 3:16, and for good reason. In that passage of Scripture we find the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The cause of the atonement is the love and justice of God. The Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God suffered, and bled, and died on the Cross of Calvary, taking on Himself the just wrath of God in our place, making a way of Salvation that our sins would be forgiven and that we would be reconciled to God. The blood of Jesus was the price of our Redemption. He was buried, and on the third day He rose from the dead! What an amazing God we serve!
Holding on to Every Word of God
As Pilgrims who have placed their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are on a journey in this wilderness of life, the ultimate destination of which is Heaven, our Promised Land, the place where we will be in the presence of Almighty God for all of eternity! Though that way of life can be full of challenges, as overcomers we hold on to every Word of God!
Psalms 27:1-4 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.
What an amazing day that will be when we have finished the race and see our Lord Jesus Christ!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
The Doctrine of Christ
As we begin our discussion today regarding the institution of marriage, it is imperative that we know and understand that every Word of God is true! As Believers the Word of God is everything to us!
• Matthew 4:4 …man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
• Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
• Hebrews 4:12, 13 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
The Word of God is the basis of the doctrine of Christ and the authority by which we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28) as Children of God!
2 Timothy 3:16,17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
• Scripture: Genesis through Revelation (Ref. to OT during time of the Apostles)
• Given by God: 2 Peter 1:20, 21 …no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
• Profitable: Doctrine, reproof (rebuke), correction, instruction in righteousness
• Perfection: Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Eph. 4:11-16, perfecting of saints)
• Good works: James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Notice, it’s not faith by works, it’s faith that works. (Phil. 2:12, work out…)
When we consider the value and importance of doctrine, we are referring to what the whole of Scripture has to say about a particular topic. And in that it is imperative in these last days to know and understand that doctrine matters.
There is an ecumenical movement that attempts to minimize the importance of doctrine in favor of relationships. That is one of the ways in which they seek the unification of Catholics and Protestants. But make no mistake about it, their efforts are futile and the fruit is rotten. There is no concord between Christ and Belial!
How much does doctrine matter?
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils
Doctrines of devils: Doctrines that oppose the doctrine of Christ! (1 Tim. 4:1-6)
2 John 9Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
The doctrine of Christ matters! Rightly dividing the word of truth is essential!! (2 Tim. 2:15)
So in considering the importance of the doctrine of Christ, let’s take of look at the institution of marriage and how it applies to us and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I would ask that you prayerfully consider this matter.
Institution of Marriage
To begin with, it is essential to know that when we consider what marriage is and what it represents we look to the Word of God, the source of all truth. God not only created the institution of marriage, he also defined it and established it according to His Divine will and pleasure. We find in Scripture that God is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God. When we exchange vows and enter into the covenant of marriage, we enter into a binding agreement that is sanctioned by God Himself.
Vow: A solemn promise or assertion; One by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition (Websters). Vows are very important and they come with great responsibility.
• Numbers 30:2 The Lord says that we are not allowed to break our vows.
• Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Covenant: A covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship (Grudem). There is a difference between a contract and covenant. The contract is a legally binding agreement that is conditional, obligatory, and based on the rule of law. Whereas, the covenant is based on love, commitment, and the law of God. Each of them is written, signed, and sealed, one on paper and the other on the heart.
Marriage is a covenant where a man and woman become husband and wife when they voluntarily vow themselves to each other before God in a lifelong (Rom. 7:2), exclusive commitment (Luke 16:18), only separable by death (1 Cor. 7:39)!
The 1st reference to the covenant of marriage in Scripture is Genesis 2:18, 21-24.
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 21 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; 22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 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. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
We know from this passage that:
• God formed the woman (Eve) and brought her to the man (Adam)
• In that we know that God Himself created a man and woman to be companions of one another.
• The man was not made for the woman, but the woman for the man.
o 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. (This is essential to understand!!)
From this passage in Genesis 2:24 we find the covenant of marriage!!
• A man
o Created in the image and likeness of God
• Leaves (Forsakes) his father and mother
o God didn’t design us to be under our parent’s roof for life! We move on! We move forward! We get on with it and establish our own families!
• Shall cleave unto his wife
o Cleave: Relationship of permanence (Binding, Gluing, Cementing)
o Joined: Yoked together
• They shall be one flesh
o One flesh is established by the Vow/Covenant before God.
o One flesh is realized in the consummation of the marriage, if possible.
o One flesh is reinforced when the hypothalamus in our brains during intimacy releases chemicals that induce feelings of attachment and trust.
o One flesh is also found in the bearing of children. (See page 12, DNA)
o One flesh is seen in the storms of life where commitment thrives!
o There is a connection! There is a bond! There is great love! What awesome examples of what it means to be one flesh!
Notice that there is a distinction here! A man and a woman cleave to one another and shall be one flesh. That description contains the basis for the covenant of marriage, where a man and woman become husband and wife. That covenant is universal, meaning that it applies to everyone. And we know that What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Separate) (Matthew 19:6).
Of particular note here is that God Himself defined marriage! Under the Law of God pertaining to marriage (Lev. 18), incest, adultery, polygamy, same sex unions, and bestiality is forbidden. They are regarded as an abomination to the Lord. He set the boundaries! He established what is right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable! He has determined what is clean and unclean; holy and unholy; and what is good and what is evil! We did not create it, therefore we cannot define it!!
And believe it or not, not everyone has that knowledge of the truth. We are living in the last days in a time where there is what is regarded as a culture war—a war against the truth! In that we are seeing a decline in the sanctity of marriage. That decline has been occurring in our nation over the course of the last fifty-plus years. Some contributing factors in that decline includes: Economics (Income, Govt. benefits); Changing gender roles (Feminism); Availability of contraceptives and abortion; Rise of sexual promiscuity (fornication & adultery); Children born out of wedlock; Rise of homosexuality and same sex unions; Popularity of divorce; and the option of cohabitation without any strings attached.
According to a recent study, nearly forty percent of Americans believe that marriage is becoming obsolete! “Alternative arrangements” are growing in popularity and in many ways are becoming the accepted norm. With the attempt to redefine marriage is the attempt to redefine the family unit. How can something that is so simple, so evident, so obvious, and so clear be so difficult to understand? The answer is simple! They believe a lie! They have been given strong delusion by God, as they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:10).
And that is very unfortunate for them!
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Establishment of Covenant
So what constitutes marriage in the world today? Has anything changed? How does a man and woman become husband and wife in the covenant of marriage where they become one flesh? There was a time when that would be a no-brainer. But as we previously mentioned, there is an attempt in the world today to redefine marriage. Let’s take a look at some perspectives on this matter.
• Legal marriage is according to the law of the land (Contractual, Public Record).
o Today, we have marriage laws. For instance, to get married in the State of Florida, the law requires:
Both parties must be at least 18 years old.
16 year old teenagers are required to have written parental consent.
Must provide identification: Driver’s license/passport and SSN.
An application for a marriage license must be completed.
3 day waiting period if a premarital course has not been completed.
Both parties must be present when applying for a marriage license, sign the application form and take an oath to the truthfulness of the information provided.
The marriage license is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance. The wedding ceremony must be completed within that time.
The wedding ceremony can’t take place without a license.
The ceremony must be officiated by either an ordained minister of the gospel, judicial officer, or public notary.
Within 10 days of the wedding ceremony, a certificate of the license is made by the officiant and sent to the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
A certified copy of the marriage certificate is issued within 10 days.
o Notice in this process the value of the rule of law and the importance of authenticating the relationship between husband and wife.
o Social law and order contributes to a healthy and productive society, and it is essential due to the sinful nature of man. (1 Tim. 1:8-11)(Gal. 3 & 4).
o Much of the marriage laws we have today are the direct result of the Protestant Reformation. Many of the Reformers recognized the importance of both Church and state involvement regarding the institute of marriage.
o So in that marriage is a covenant established before God, and yet there is also a contractual component to marriage enforced by the rule of law.
o Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
• Having a formal wedding ceremony
o How wonderful it is to see two families come together and celebrate the union between a husband and wife. The celebration afterwards is usually very elaborate, containing lots of food, fun, and fellowship. (Expand)
o On a side note, Thomas Cranmer was the first Protestant archbishop of Canterbury and is known for writing The Book of Common Prayer (1549), which included the vows that are often recited at a wedding ceremony. He was chained to and burned at the stake, where he died on March 21, 1556.
• Sexual intercourse
o If sexual intercourse constitutes marriage, then what is fornication?
o The consummation of a marriage is the result of the covenant of marriage, but it does not constitute the covenant of marriage. There are couples that are not able to consummate the marriage.
o However, under God’s law, a man who humbled a virgin that was not betrothed was required to marry and never leave her (Deut. 22:28, 29).
• Cohabitation with no strings attached
o That is representative of the test drive generation! The live and let live, don’t judge me crowd! They want the recognition, but they don’t want the responsibility or the commitment! It’s the what’s in it for me generation!!
o Having children out-of-wedlock is becoming their accepted norm! Some children don’t even know their fathers due to deadbeat dads!
• Polygamy: Having more than one spouse at the same time. (Gen. 4, Lamech)
• Bigamy: Having open marriages, Scripturally referred to as adultery!
• Sologamy: Marriage to one’s self! This is particularly popular among women.
• Homosexual Relations: Same sex unions (U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2015)
o We are getting a glimpse into what it must have been like in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah! Wicked, Wicked, Wicked!!
o Some people even want to marry animals! What is going on?
As we mentioned earlier, since God created the covenant of marriage, he alone is the one who defines the covenant of marriage and the boundaries that go with it!! We were designed by God to be in monogamous relationships according to His Word. BTW, men need to obtain the permission to marry from the bride’s father. That is one way in which to honour parents and the Lord. Once approved, we should honour the law of the land and get a marriage license, have an official wedding ceremony that brings glory to God in establishing the covenant of marriage according to His Word, and ensure if possible that the marriage is consummated! But the covenant of marriage goes much, much further!! And it is at this point where we will discover why there is such an assault on the covenant of marriage in these last days.
Figurative of the Gospel
The covenant of marriage is a blessing given by God to all of mankind. And in that covenant is a type/figure (husband & wife) which foreshadows the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the relationship that exists between Christ and the Church. In Ephesians 5 the Apostle Paul gave direction regarding the roles and responsibilities of husband and wife. He further stated that he was speaking concerning Christ and the Church.
In John, Chapter 2, we also find the first miracle of Jesus where He turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, which is symbolic of the new birth cleansing that takes place when we are born again by the Spirit of God (1 John 1:7)!
We not only observe and believe the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are partakers of the Gospel! Jesus said, …Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him (John 6:53-56).
Of particular note here is that there was ample supply of wine for all at the wedding. Oh the blood of Jesus!! Have you been washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? As Christians we abide in the true Vine! Understanding types and shadows in Scripture is a way in which God has given for us to comprehend spiritual realities!
When we understand the reality of the Gospel, it gives us a certain urgency in getting things right and doing all things to the glory of God! How we live our lives is an indication of who we are and what we hold dear.
So in that, next week we’ll take a look at Genesis, Chapter 24 and consider the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah and how it relates to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the relationship that exists between Christ and the Church. In addition, it should be noted that Genesis 24 is the basis for the Ancient Jewish Wedding. I would encourage you ahead of time to read through that chapter and prayerfully consider the Word and will of God this week. Amen.