Husbands and wives come across situations in their marriage that challenge them to rethink their expectations. Perhaps the vision of a life partnership turns out differently than what you imagined. With a brief analysis based on Biblical references, we can learn what God expects from a man and a woman in marriage. We’ll start with a little bit of background history first, and then explore what marriage looks like now for a man and a woman, and finally get to the ultimate marriage for the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Where did it all begin?
Adam was created as a male human being by God. When Adam finished naming the animals, then there was found to be no helper for Adam, so God put Adam in a deep sleep and took a rib from Adam and created a female human being, Eve. 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; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 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. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24, NCV)
This union was consummated and then Eve bore a son, Cain, and another son, Abel. The original marriage of man and woman was only between one male and one female. In course of time, men desired to have more wives and there are scriptures which describe kings and those of ancient times having more than one wife. This behavior God did not seem to condemn, but in the new testament, it was written that an elder and a Deacon would be the husband of one wife. An overseer must not give people a reason to criticize him, and he must have only one wife. He must be self-controlled, wise, respected by others, ready to welcome guests, and able to teach. Deacons must have only one wife and be good leaders of their children and their own families. (1 Timothy 3:2, 12 NCV)
God wants his creation to be fruitful and multiply, as Paul explained in his letter to Timothy, that young women ought to marry and have children.I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, and give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. (1 Timothy 5:14, KJV)
What about Divorce?
Originally, divorce was not part of God’s plan. Moses gave a bill of divorce due to peoples’ hardness of heart. The intent of God is simple, to respect each other as husband and wife and to be in a humble mindset to dwell together peaceably. This takes practice and self-control. A good servant of Jesus Christ, and his Father, the God of heaven, will submit themselves to serve in a holy marriage.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” (Matthew 19:3-12, ESV)
Now I give this command for the married people. (The command is not from me; it is from the Lord.) A wife should not leave her husband. But if she does leave, she must not marry again, or she should make up with her husband. Also the husband should not divorce his wife. (I Corinthians 7:10-11, NCV)
What about being in submission to each other?
The apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, provided several examples in his letters to the early churches about how husbands and wives should love each other.
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:18, 19, NIV)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33, ESV)
Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that if any do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, as they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Do not let your adorning be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine clothing. But let it be the hidden nature of the heart, that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in the old times, the holy women, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You are her children as long as you do right and are not afraid with any terror. Likewise, you husbands, live considerately with your wives, giving honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they too are also heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:1-7, MEV)
Doing what is right takes effort to be in a good marriage
Sometimes these things are easier said than done. We are sometimes affected by the influences of this world which entice our minds to do things that we want to do, rather than God’s will. That is why it is important to avoid situations that make you vulnerable or susceptible to sin. Associate with people who are spiritually minded and this will help to nurture and grow good thoughts that yield positive results that are in alignment with God’s will, and not our own.
So, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up their hands in a holy manner, without anger and arguments. Also, women should wear proper clothes that show respect and self-control, not using braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes. Instead, they should do good deeds, which is right for women who say they worship God. Let a woman learn by listening quietly and being ready to cooperate in everything. But I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to listen quietly because Adam was formed first and then Eve. And Adam was not tricked, but the woman was tricked and became a sinner. But she will be saved through having children if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:8-15 NCV)
What if my spouse does not believe in Jesus Christ?
Again, the apostle Paul, describes what to do when you are in a marriage and one person is a believer and the other person is a non-believer. We find this in a letter Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth.
For all the others I say this (I am saying this, not the Lord): If a Christian man has a wife who is not a believer, and she is happy to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer, and he is happy to live with her, she must not divorce him. The husband who is not a believer is made holy through his believing wife. And the wife who is not a believer is made holy through her believing husband. If this were not true, your children would not be clean, but now your children are holy. But if those who are not believers decide to leave, let them leave. When this happens, the Christian man or woman is free. But God called us to live in peace. Wife, you don’t know; maybe you will save your husband. And husband, you don’t know; maybe you will save your wife. (I Corinthians 7:12-16, NCV)
Happily ever after?
A marriage is between one man and one woman and this was the original intent by God. A good marriage takes effort founded upon spiritual guidance from God. Even if one spouse does not believe in God, the other believing spouse can serve as an example of what is faithful, good, and righteous. This behavior may even encourage the non-believing spouse to look into the ways of Jesus Christ. There are specific behaviors that the apostles Paul and Peter described in their letters to the early churches, which included being humble, respectful, and working dutifully to serve one another in marriage. The fundamental behavior is to be humble.
Who is the bride of Jesus Christ?
In the future, another marriage will happen. This is a special union. One that is spiritual. There will be a marriage for the Son of God.
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2, KJV)
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21:2, 9-10, KJV)
Then I heard what sounded like a great many people, like the noise of flooding water, and like the noise of loud thunder. The people were saying: “Hallelujah! Our Lord God, the Almighty, rules. Let us rejoice and be happy and give God glory, because the wedding of the Lamb has come, and the Lamb’s bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given to her to wear.” (The fine linen means the good things done by God’s holy people.) (Revelation 19:6-8, NCV)
What does the Bible Say about Sex and Intimacy?
Sometimes, a couple has trouble with intimacy and the scriptures talk about these things too. In face, King Solomon and the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, described some things in their writings that might help out. While reading a Bible passage may not fix everything, it does help offer guidance to those married individuals seeking wise counsel.
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Proverbs 5:18-19
Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 1 Corinthians 7:2-4
Who has a happy marriage?
Anyone can have a happy marriage if they follow the principle of humility, respect, and true love. The human mind is enticed by other desires, but the spirit of God is more powerful than sin and enables Christians to completely follow God in zeal for what is right. Certainly, troubles will come, and how do you approach those troubles? With a mature and absolute commitment to the Lord God Almighty through His son, Jesus Christ. Attitudes that are proud, cynical, negative, and hateful cause problems. We who follow Jesus Christ are able to overcome all things when we prioritize God and His son, Jesus Christ in our marriage even when we have a spouse who does not believe. Who knows, your good behavior might positively influence your spouse to learn about the hope of God’s future kingdom.