Marriage: A Guide for the Church
What is marriage?
Since the days of Eden, when God declared that “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24), marriage has been historically understood as the uniting of one man and one woman in a covenant commitment for a lifetime. However, in recent decades this bedrock institution of civilization has been slowly redefined into something altogether foreign from God’s original design. Therefore, it is imperative that the Christian has a biblical understanding of marriage. Here are three foundational truths from the Scripture1 :
1. Marriage is biblically understood as the union of one man and one woman.
In Genesis 2, God initiates the institution of marriage as the heterosexual union of Adam and Eve, indicating this as his exclusive design by commanding them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). All sexual activity outside of the covenant of heterosexual marriage is understood as immorality. 1 Derived from Article XVIII of the Baptist Faith and Message, 2000.
2. Marriage is biblically understood as a covenant commitment for a lifetime.
In Matthew 19, Jesus declares that when a couple marries, “they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). That is, marriage is not merely a social agreement between a man and a woman but covenant sanctioned by God that man should not separate.
3. Marriage is biblically understood to reveal the union between Christ and His church.
In Ephesians 5, Paul indicates that God’s design for marriage is a profound mystery that “refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). That is, marriage is a picture of the gospel, whereby a couple models the way God relates to His people. This is done when husbands sacrificially love their wives as Christ loved the church and when wives willingly submit to their husband’s headship as the church submits to Christ’s headship. Therefore, we take the biblical institution of marriage very seriously at Hickory Grove. Our desire, in accordance with Hebrews 13:4, is that “marriage be held in honor among all.”
Why should I emphasize a biblical understanding of marriage in my home?
1. Marriage is God’s idea.
Marriage is not man’s idea. Marriage is not a mere social construction, liable to be redefined and repurposed as culture sees fit. Marriage is an inherently biblical institution. Therefore, the Christian parent must help their child cultivate a biblical understanding of marriage, for it is God’s idea.
2. Marriage is a picture of the gospel.
According to Paul in Ephesians 5, God designed marriage to point to something beyond itself, namely the gospel. Biblical marriage models how Christ has given Himself up for the church and how the church submits itself to Christ. That is, marriage is a living testimony to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Christian parent must help their child cultivate a biblical understanding of marriage, for it is a picture of the gospel.
3. Marriage is misunderstood by many.
Marriage is under attack. Whether subtly on television programs or bluntly in recent legislation, children are being inundated with an understanding of marriage altogether foreign from God’s original design. Therefore, the Christian parent must help their child cultivate a biblical understanding of marriage, for it is misunderstood by many.
How can I teach my child more about marriage?
1. Read what the Bible says together.
Read Genesis 2, Matthew 19, and Ephesians 5 and discuss with your child how the Scripture contrasts with our culture today.
2. Model biblical marriage.
No marriage is perfect. Begin today to model sacrificial love and willing submission before your children and admit your shortcomings.
3. Pray for your spouse.
Let your children hear you pray for one another. Let them know how important each of you