WHY marriage today? Is marriage different these days? Is the basis of  Christian marriage different from marriage in Old Testament times?  God made man and woman and their  creation took place in two steps, first man and then woman. Man came from the dust,  but woman came from the living Adam. Eve  never experienced the loneliness which was Adam’s lot before she was made.

It must have been a moment of pure joy  when, arising out of his deep sleep, Adam  first saw Eve. Unlike all of the animals, who had been brought individually to him and  he had named them, Eve was bone of his  bone and flesh of his flesh. She was created  specifically for him, and deliberately after  him:

“For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

(1 Timothy 2:13)

“For the man is not of the woman; but  the woman of the man. Neither was the man  created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

(1 Corinthians 11:8,9)

The world today does not accept this truth, but that does not destroy it. We deny it at our peril,  both for our present and our eternal happiness.

But Why?

God tells us why:

“I will make an help meet for him”

(Genesis 2:18)

“Help meet” means “a helper fit for him”  (RSV), or “a helper suitable for him” (NIV).  ‘Helper’ means exactly what it says and  occurs throughout the Old Testament, for  example, in Ebenezer’s name, which means  ‘stone of help’. But what does ‘meet’ or ‘fit’  or ‘suitable’ mean? The underlying meaning is  of ‘answering or corresponding to’. Physically  and mentally man and woman are parts of a  whole, even though they can live separately.

The colours of the rainbow are distinct and  individual in their own qualities, but it takes  all of them to produce the perfect whiteness  from which they come. So it is in marriage, each partner finds aspects of being in the other one which are a source of wonder and delight. God made them so. These are basic ingredients for the companionship of marriage.

It was God (see Genesis 3:24 and Matthew  19:5) who said:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and  his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Unholy Alliances

But man’s way is not God’s. A very large  proportion of those who get married have  already had sexual relationships with one or  more persons. This is the freedom men and  women have chosen to enjoy. It should not be  so among us. We have no choice in the matter, God has told us the right way:

“But fornication and all uncleanness, or  covetousness, let it not once be named among  you, as becometh saints … For this know,  that no whoremonger, nor unclean person,  nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath  any inheritance in the kingdom of God and of  Christ.” (Ephesians 5:3-7)

Pills and other means may render ‘safe’ our  wrong actions, but this is false security. Our deeds  may take place in secret, but there is nothing  secret from God. There is no safety outside Christ,  and there is no uncleanness in him.

But is it more acceptable to have a steady  sexual partner? Someone with whom one  lives on a regular basis but without the ties  of marriage, for example? After all, all of us  know some very ‘nice’ people who simply cohabit; they might even go to church or  chapel. Is this a permissible half-way house  between promiscuity and actual marriage? Let  us consider this situation by posing a question:

What happens when we marry?

“To the contract of marriage, besides the man  and the wife, there is a third party—SOCIETY;  and if it be considered as a vow—GOD”.

So said Samuel Johnson more than two  hundred years ago. His words have a Scriptural  ring about them. In true marriage there are  three areas of involvement:

  1. The man and the woman. They consent, each and together, to what is taking place. Their mutual consent affects other people.
  2. Society. This includes our parents, relations and friends, as well as society at large. A declaration of intent to marry raises all the sensible questions—for example, is either of  them already married? It is for this reason in  Britain that each party has to declare that “I  know not of any lawful impediment why I John Smith may not be joined in matrimony  to thee Mary Brown”.

Notice of marriage has to be given to the  Register Office so that due search can be made  as to the past of the persons concerned, and a  record of what is now being done is kept for  posterity.

Open declaration in this way makes plain  to everyone that two people now belong  uniquely to each other. It is a signal that  no one else has any part or lot in either of  them so far as physical intimacy and unique  companionship are concerned.

The families of both parties are now  unavoidably caught up in what is taking place,  and they will enjoy certain privileges and carry  certain responsibilities as a consequence of  the marriage.

Lastly, under this head, marriage protects  the children who are thereby provided with  two legal parents responsible for their care and  upbringing. The children will bear the family  name and enjoy the legal rights that fall to  them, and find security and love in a way that  only marriage can afford.

  1. God. Of course, He is the first priority. He established marriage, and He alone has the right to determine its conditions. God who  made us surely knows what is best for our  individual and family happiness.

Whilst we do not believe that marriage is a  sacrament, that is, an outward and visible sign of  special grace which the church is said to bestow  through its priests, we do believe that it is good  to make our marriage declaration in God’s sight,  to give Him thanks and seek His blessing.

Answers to Basic Questions

It is clear from what is set out above that sexual promiscuity and co-habitation throw  everything into disarray. Despite the seeming  satisfactoriness of cohabitation, it rides roughshod over all of the basic principles. God is  ignored, society  and friends and  family do not know where they stand, and  any resulting children are adrift on the seas of the personal indulgence of  the parents and  are not anchored securely to home-base.

How right God was and is in everything!