Marriage is ubiquitous in our society. We’re constantly surrounded by messages that it’s normal, and even expected, for two people who are in love to get married, whether it’s plastered on advertisements, portrayed in movies, or witnessed in our own families and social circles. Since the institution of marriage has existed for centuries, and it’s prevalent in most cultures, tying the knot has truly become customary.
What Is Marriage?
Marriage can be defined as a formal union and a social and legal contract between two individuals that legally, economically, and emotionally unite their lives. The contractual portion implies that the couple has legal obligations to one another throughout their lives (or until they decide to get divorced).
Significance Of Marriage
1. God’s Design, A Gift Of Love:
At the dawn of creation, God saw the inherent incompleteness of man alone. He declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Thus, marriage was born, not as a mere social construct, but as a divine gift, a reflection of God’s love and unity. This union, woven with love and commitment, transcends mere friendship, offering a haven of intimacy and support (Proverbs 18:22).
2. A Covenant Of One Flesh:
The Bible emphasizes the unique nature of marriage, declaring, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This beautiful metaphor speaks of a profound intimacy, a merging of lives, hearts, and destinies. It’s a covenant witnessed by God, a commitment not easily broken (Malachi 2:14).
3. Love, The Guiding Light:
Love, in its purest form, is the cornerstone of a successful marriage. The Bible exhorts husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25), with sacrificial devotion and unwavering support. Wives, in turn, are called to love and respect their husbands (1 Peter 3:7). This love, patient, kind, and selfless (1 Corinthians 13:4-7), illuminates the path through life’s joys and challenges, strengthening the bond between husband and wife.
4. Fulfilling The Divine Purpose:
Marriage isn’t merely a private union; it serves a greater purpose. It’s a foundation for family, a haven for raising children in the love and fear of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). It’s a channel for God’s blessings, a source of stability and strength for society as a whole.
5. Challenges And Growth:
No marriage is without its challenges. Misunderstandings arise, storms rage, and hearts may grow weary. Yet, the Bible offers unwavering hope. It encourages couples to bear with one another in love and forgiveness (Colossians 3:13). It reminds us that God is present amid our struggles, offering guidance and strength (Psalm 121:1-2).
Types Of Marriage
Below are some of the different types of marriages;
- Statutory Marriage
- Customary Marriage
- Church Marriage
- Islamic Marriage
Bible Citations Concerning Marriage
1. Colossians 3:18: Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
2. Ephesians 4:32: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
3. Colossians 3:19: Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
4. Ephesians 5:22-33: Instructions for husbands and wives
5. Proverbs 31:10-31: A description of a virtuous wife
6. Song of Solomon: A beautiful poem of love and marriage
7. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5: On marriage and singleness
8. Matthew 19:3-11: Jesus’ teaching on divorce
Biblical Words Of Wisdom/Guidance On Nature Of Marriage
1. The Divine Blueprint:
From the very beginning, God established marriage as a cornerstone of creation. In Genesis 2:18, we see the Lord declaring, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Thus, He created woman, forging a bond between man and woman that transcends mere companionship. This verse emphasizes the inherent need for human connection, the fulfillment found in a partner who complements and completes us.
2. A Covenant Of Love:
Marriage is not merely a contract, but a profound commitment of love. In Ephesians 5:25, the Apostle Paul urges husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” This verse sets a high standard, calling for a love that is sacrificial, selfless, and enduring, mirroring the love of Christ for His Church. Similarly, Colossians 3:19 encourages wives to “submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord,” emphasizing respect and mutual support within the marriage covenant.
3. The Pillars Of A Strong Union:
Love is the bedrock of marriage, but it needs pillars to hold it strong. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 beautifully describes the essential qualities of love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its way; it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” These verses remind us that love is not a fleeting emotion, but a choice we make daily, choosing patience, understanding, and forgiveness even amidst challenges.
4. Through Thick And Thin:
Marriage is not a fairy tale where every day is sunshine and roses. Scripture acknowledges the inevitable difficulties that arise. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This verse reminds us of the power of communication, of choosing gentle words and understanding even when disagreements arise. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reminds us that “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” This verse emphasizes the strength found in unity, in knowing that we have a partner to lean on when life gets tough.
5. A Reflection Of God’s Love:
Ultimately, marriage is a reflection of God’s love for us. In 1 John 4:8, we read, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Just as God loves us unconditionally, so too are we called to love our spouses with an unwavering love that transcends imperfections and endures all things.
6. Submission And Service: A Dance Of Mutual Respect:
Ephesians 5:21-22-33 outlines a principle that often sparks debate: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” However, this submission isn’t about one partner holding power over the other. Instead, it’s a dance of mutual respect and service, where each spouse seeks the other’s well-being and honors the unique roles they play in the partnership.
7. Till Death Do Us Part: A Covenant Sealed In Faith:
Hebrews 13:4 declares, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” This verse emphasizes the sanctity of marriage, a covenant made not only with each other but also with God. It’s a commitment that transcends earthly vows and endures through trials and tribulations.
Biblical Stories Of Successful Marriage
1. Abraham And Sarah
At times Abraham and Sarah exhibit fear in the Lord and obedience. Other times they are overtaken with fear and make poor decisions that have lasting consequences. Who can’t relate to that? What marriage can’t look back and wish they had chosen a different path at times? However, the Lord is faithful and fulfills His promise to them regardless of their sinful behavior.
That is the key to their relationship. We will mess up in our marriages and raising children, just like Abraham and Sarah. The key is not to give up but rather repent and return to God’s ways.
God made a covenant with Abraham when he was ninety-nine. God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 4:5). God promised Abraham the land of Canaan. He blessed Sarah and gave them a son, Isaac (she had been barren until now).
These two, while trying to follow God, often find themselves in trouble, and God rescues them from their mess. The first example is Sarah taking her bareness into her own hands and asking Abraham to impregnate her servant Hagar. God protects Hagar when Sarah changes her mind and has contempt and deals harshly with Hagar. When Abraham tells Abimelech Sarah is his sister instead of his wife, God intercedes by telling Abimelech in a dream that Sarah is his wife.
2. Isaac And Rebekah:
This marriage was the doing of a faithful father and, of course, ultimately, our Heavenly Father. Isaac was Abraham and Sarah’s son. Abraham, well advanced in years, was concerned for his unmarried son. He made his faithful servant swear by the Lord to help find a wife for Isaac from the land of his forefathers. He did not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman.
The servant traveled to Mesopotamia and stopped at a well outside the city. This is where he meets Isaac’s future wife. The servant shows his faith by praying to God and asking Him to help identify the spouse meant for Isaac. He prayed for the girl who would offer him a jar to drink and propose to provide water for the camels to be the one chosen for Isaac. A girl named Rebekah, in the line of Abraham’s brother, comes out and says the words the servant had prayed.
We know that Rebekah is very attractive. (Genesis 24:16) We also see kindness in her heart when she takes care of a stranger and his animals. Through her actions, we learn God has appointed her to be with Isaac.
The servant goes back to her house and tells Rebekah’s family the purpose of his travels. Her family blesses the union, and Rebekah begins her travels to Canaan. Rebekah shows courage, strength, and faith when she leaves her family and heads to an unknown land to meet a stranger who will be her husband. We learn Isaac married her upon their return and loved her. (Genesis 24:67)
While the relationship was filled with faith and love, it was not without its challenges, as all marriages are. Isaac exhibits his faith as he prays for his barren wife. They have two sons, Esau and Jacob. As the boys grow up, Rebekah and Isaac have their favorite children, which is not the best parenting move. This rivalry between the two creates some conflict within the family.
Isaac remains a faithful man remembering what his father taught him. He prays and loves his wife, and the Lord blesses them.
3. Ruth And Boaz:
While we don’t have much information about Ruth and Boaz after they are married, we are shown quite a bit about their character before marriage. The Lord blesses their marriage with a son. They named him Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Their marriage was important because their son was in the bloodline of Jesus, and it exemplified faith and the protections that the marriage covenant brings.
The beauty of this story is how a family, ruined by tragedy and death, finds a way to make a new start and ends in a marriage that will secure Ruth and Naomi’s future. Ruth and Naomi suffered the death of their husbands, and Naomi lost both her sons. Back then, marriage was a means to security; these deaths were a blow to their hearts and stability.
Ruth shows her character when she will not leave her mother-in-law alone after Naomi decides to return to Judah. She says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) Ruth could have returned to her parents as Naomi suggested, but she doesn’t. She shows kindness, loyalty, and abundant love toward her mother-in-law. It was these character traits that attracted Boaz to Ruth. He saw someone with a kind heart who exhibited endless love for their family.
Boaz is a respectful man, a man who takes care of the poor. He displays grace towards Ruth when he lets her glean from his fields. Under his protection, she is safe. Whether he is attracted to her physically or just impressed with her selfless actions towards Naomi, he finds favor with Ruth. His keenness and persistence in winning her hand in marriage show his wit and affection toward her. Boaz is a man with honor and integrity.
If Ruth loved and treated Boaz half as well as she did her mother-in-law, I imagine they had a very fruitful marriage. We know the Lord blessed them with children. They could have led lonely lives, but the Lord brought them together and created a beautiful story.
4. Mary And Joseph:
What can we learn from the parents of Jesus? They had quite a job raising a perfect son. What an honor God gave to them; He trusted them greatly. In fact, in Luke 1:30, an angel tells Mary, “You have found favor with God.”
Mary and Joseph display magnificent faith and obedience. Both are visited by angels and accept and listen to the angels. Mary finds out she will be pregnant with the Son of God (Luke 1:35). An angel tells Joseph not to fear taking Mary as his wife; she has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. I imagine receiving these messages was extremely alarming.
This is a tough way to start a marriage. Joseph knows his betrothed is pregnant, yet not with his child. We learn Joseph is a just man and does not shame Mary (Matthew 1:19). After the angel’s visit, the couple proceeds with their relationship, showing great trust in the angel and, ultimately, God.
After Jesus was born, Joseph trusted the Lord yet again when another angel visited him. He is warned not to return home but rather to flee to Egypt so Jesus would be safe from Herod. (Matthew 2:13) Joseph follows the angel’s guidance and protects his son. Mary submits to her husband’s leadership and trusts him to guide and protect their family. It could not have been easy for this young couple to change plans and not go back to their home and family and instead go to a new town and start over.
Mary and Joseph took their role as parents seriously and showed love and care for their son. They show much parental concern when he is missing after a visit to Jerusalem at the Feast of the Passover. “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Luke 2:48)
Mary and Joseph exhibited much fear in the Lord. They respected the traditions and customs of their heritage. They seemed to be a faithful and dedicated married couple, with Joseph leading his family and Mary surrendering to his headship. They were asked to do unexpected things, yet took each challenge in stride and entrusted themselves and their marriage to their Father’s plans.
There is quite a bit to learn by looking at these couples. However, what I see repeatedly is God in these stories; He is the one who redeems the couples when they mess up or struggle with challenges. He protects and guides marriages.
The main lesson we learn from all these couples is to surrender our will to God’s will. Something easier said than done. Some did it well, and some struggled, trying their way first, then realizing that God’s way is better. Surrendering takes time for couples to learn. The bumps in the road, however painful, also make us stronger.
Biblical Story On Marriage Ceremony
1. The Wedding Of Cana:
Marriage, like any intricate tapestry, is woven with threads of joy, sorrow, laughter, and tears. It’s a journey of constant learning, a commitment to growth, and a testament to the enduring power of love. Through thick and thin, the Bible remains a guiding light, offering wisdom, hope, and the promise of God’s unfailing grace.
So, as you embark on this sacred journey, remember, that marriage is more than just a ceremony or a contract. It’s a reflection of God’s love, a covenant of unity, and a tapestry woven with love, commitment, and the unwavering hope of His grace.