Marriage, according to the Bible, is an institution created and ordained by God. Therefore, the instructions for how to have a godly marriage must come from God through His Word. We cannot make decisions about marriage based on our own thoughts, opinions or selfish impulses. Nor can we understand what a true, godly marriage is by using the “wisdom of this world” as seen in the customs and habits of the culture we live in.
The Bible gives us a brief look at the ideal (perfect) marriage as God originally designed it. But this ideal marriage was ruined when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. All human relationships, including those recorded in the Bible, show the distorting and destructive effects of sin. We can see this especially in marriages.
We see around us many examples – and often tragic results – of man’s will in marriage. But what is God’s will and heart concerning marriage? To answer this question, we need to understand what God has revealed in His Word about marriage. This will help our own marriage – and the marriages and homes of those we lead – become all that God intends.
A. MAN AND WOMAN: CREATED IN GOD’S IMAGE
Marriage is the first institution established by God, before the Fall and the entrance of sin into the human race. God established marriage – between one man and one woman – as the normal pattern for humanity.
God created man and woman in His image. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man [Hebrew adam, meaning “human race”] in Our image, according to Our likeness: So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:26,27). This text teaches us several important principles:
- God designed and created the human race to have both male and female form.
- Both the man and woman were created in God’s own “image” and “likeness”. “Image” and “likeness” do not refer to our physical form, but rather to our spiritual, mental and moral nature. “Image” means our capacity to think; learn; experience emotions; appreciate beauty; use our imagination; make choices; love and be loved; have relationships; know what is good and right.
- Since man and woman were both created in God’s “image” and “likeness,” they have equal value in God’s sight, and in God’s plan for humanity and the world. Man is not inferior to woman; woman is not inferior to man. This foundational truth is vital to understanding God’s view of marriage. This equality of man and woman in their value and worth to God is seen in the authority and responsibilities God has given them to share:
- Both man and woman are to have “dominion” over the rest of God’s creation. “Male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:27, 28). The Hebrew word for “dominion” includes the idea of steward ship; it is not cruelly “lording over”, but rather lovingly caring for and nurturing what is entrusted to you (see Genesis 2:15).
- Man and woman are to have children and raise them together;
- Man and woman are to be partners – enjoying a close, loving relationship with each other and with their Creator.
The Bible clearly teaches that God intended man and woman to have total partnership in every aspect of life.
B. ADAM’S NEED FOR A PARTNER
In Genesis 2:18, God declares: “It is not good that man should be alone.” God then brings the animals to Adam, so that Adam can name them (v.19). In the Scriptures, to name something is to establish authority (“have dominion”) over it. Naming the animals also showed Adam that “there was not found a helper comparable to him” in the rest of creation (v.20).