Marriage

What is marriage? That seems to be the question of the day. My particular view is informed by my understanding of the Bible’s revelation. This is not an experimentally or statistically or democratically derived view; I would call it a historically informed Christian view. Marriage is: a creation of God, a picture of God himself, a means of multiplying children for God, and a prophecy of humanity’s final destiny.

Marriage began at the very start of creation, if not as the first work of God, it certainly was his crowning achievement. The first marriage came about in the creation of man, which happened in this way. On the sixth day of creation, God created a man named Adam from the dust of the earth. But although Adam was able to enjoy the rest of God’s creation, God saw that it was not good for him to be alone. So God took one of Adam’s ribs, and formed from it a woman, to be Adam’s helper. God brought Adam and the woman together, and Adam named her “woman”, because she was formed from his own flesh. From this we see that God’s answer to a lack of relationship for Adam was not the creation of another being the same as him, from the same dust, but a different being, yet from his own flesh. So, in the first marriage we have a coming together which is a kind of reunion where that which was removed from Adam is rejoined to him.

Man was created in the image of God. Moses tells us: “In the image of God he created him, male and female he created them”. Paul adds “Man is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man”. Although it is true to say that it is Adam who pre-eminently bears that image, Eve both shares and completes that image. Firstly, woman was created from Adam’s flesh, and secondly in marriage Adam and Eve are joined together and become one flesh again. So the image of God in humanity is complete when man and woman are joined together in the relationship of marriage.

Adam also named his wife “Eve”, which means “the mother of the living”. Marriage is not a loose joining together of two equivalent partners, as in a friendship or contractual arrangement between peers. Instead, the marriage joins back together two different beings who share the same flesh for a God-given purpose that individually neither can achieve. For although God had a particular purpose in Eve for Adam, to meet his immediate need for relationship, he had a further purpose: to multiply the image of God through Eve’s children. So marriage is beautiful in that it knits two awesome creatures of God together in a unity which is a picture of God himself, and also in that it multiplies that image in sons and daughters.

Marriage has a further purpose in God’s design however. God’s creation is a picture of the whole scope of time from the beginning to its end. To summarize that picture, God works for a time building the world, and at the end we have a culmination where Adam and Eve are joined together in marriage to rule the world under God. This is the completed creation which is supremely beautiful and good. But we do not see this completed creation today, or in the previous thousands of years of history, as we are all painfully aware. However, God’s plans may seem slow, but they are never frustrated. The beautiful marriage at the end of creation is still coming! For the marriage of Adam the son of God to a woman created by God for him, is a pre-figure of the marriage of Jesus the Son of God, to his church at his second coming. Even to this day, Jesus waits while God prepares for him a beautiful bride, in the Christian church. This church is not made of stone, but it is a living church made up of all those, men and women, who accept the image of the son of God in their lives, who can call the Son of God their Lord.

I think the primary thing to take from the reality of what marriage is, is that it is God’s. He created it. He has a plan for it both in the microcosm of one man and one woman and in the macro of his only son Jesus and his bride. In whatever way we relate to marriage we must remember whose it is. As the Bible warns: “Let the marriage bed be held in honour by all, but the sexually immoral and adulterers God will judge”.

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