As a young unmarried adult it might seem ironic that I would write a paper about marriage. After all, I am not married so how can I know anything about marriage? The essence of this assertion has legitimate credence. Yet, individuals spend time studying and applying themselves to a post-secondary education into order to learn more about a particular vocation before entering into their desired vocation. As the old analogy states, nobody wants a doctor that has never attended medical school. Today, many people negate the necessity of a firm foundation for their marriage until they are at the door of marriage. Often times this is too late and may spark early obstacles the marriage will face that could have easily been negated had the couple applied themselves to a proper understanding of what God intended for marriage to be. It is my attempt with this paper to not only learn myself, but also to show how one can apply themselves in preparing for and leading a marriage that is centered around God.
Humanity’s Divine Covenant:
A Biblical Understanding of Choosing a Spouse and Preparing for Marriage
One of the biggest decisions a person will ever make in their life is the determination of whom to marry. It is a decision that in many cases can make or break a person and dictate the inevitable path for their lives. As it is said, “Behind every great man there is a great woman.” Marriage is a sacred covenant relationship endowed to man by God. Modern society has marred the beauty and tarnished the understanding of marriage to the point that today it is nothing more than a civil agreement between two consenting individuals. This digression of marriage is no where near what God had in mind when in Genesis 2:18 He declared that it is not good for man to be alone. Today, society has used the means of enculturation to ingrain children to marry for beauty and live happily ever after. While the root understanding of this is true these are not the only means of which to look for a spouse. Proverbs 18:22 says, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” there is more to a wife than mere beauty and more to marriage than happily ever after. Adam did not choose Eve, God made Eve specifically for Adam. Today a generation has been raised that is overcritical of psychical attributes and ineffectual considering spiritual counsel. To many people today negate God entirely when searching for a spouse resulting in failed marriages and broken homes. God endowed upon humanity a sacred covenant union between man and woman for the means of formulating the perfect team. Marriage was designed by God, thus there is no better counsel to appeal to than the throne of the Almighty when searching for a spouse.
What is Marriage Intended to be?
When approaching a deeper understanding of what marriage is intended to be one must look at the first Biblical representation of marriage. This begins in Genesis 2:18, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” God intended for marriage to be the union between a man and women for the purpose of partnership. It was immediately evident that Adam needed a partner, a partner not merely to help attend to his vast job description, but a partner to attend to him.
Something that is often overlooked in Genesis two when God forms Eve, is that Adam had no say in the matter. God put Adam to sleep and made Eve from his flesh. God knew exactly what Adam needed in a partner and made Eve exactly to fit those needs. The problem many people face today is they believe they know what they need in a spouse. Many people search for specific character traits or psychical attributes. Modern society has established this witch hunt for the perfect person. Granted there is nothing wrong with searching for someone whom one is attracted to both psychically and emotionally. The problem with this is slowly God’s input is negated and excused aside while ones personal interests take priority. The most fundamental understanding that is vital to every relationship and marriage is the realization that no one is perfect.
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. The only perfect person to ever inhale fresh air and experience the beauty of a sunset was marred more than any man. In the greatest love story known to man, Jesus was crucified as a sacrificial lamb for our sins and our deeds. His death, burial, and resurrection established a new covenant that today we are heirs to. His sacrifice gave us the means of salvation (Acts 2:38) leading to eternal life. The beauty of this is we can experience the grace of God in our lives everyday. This is important to grasp when searching for a spouse and even more vital in marriage. Because forgiveness, grace, and love establish a foundation that is paramount to a lasting marriage. Humans are imperfect in ever sense of the word, but through patience and grace a lasting marriage can be established.
Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” The root hebrew word for flesh in this verse is bâsâr which extends from the primitive root word bâsar which means: to announce (glad news) or (bear, bring, carry, preach, good, tell good). So, we must understand that when two individuals are married it is more and two fleshly bodies becoming one. There is more to marriage than simply spending the rest of ones life with the person whom they deem to be in love with. When two people join in a covenant relationship under God their ministries and purposes have become one. God made Adam and Eve one in flesh when they were married, but they were also one in purpose and one in ministry. This is why it is so important to understand the spiritual and secular goals of an individual before marriage. Marriage requires unity, and if two individuals cannot unify their goals to fit each other prior to marriage then unity is never truly established.
Preparing Oneself for Marriage
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” Genesis 2:16-18. Before God gave Eve to Adam he first dealt with his spiritual life. God established his commandment with Adam and gave him personal and spiritual boundaries.
In verses sixteen and seventeen God gives Adam the commandment that he can eat of anything he wants, except for one single tree. God also tells Adam the result of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God made sure that Adam’s spiritual life was in order before he attended to giving him a helpmeet. Obedience to the commandment of God was Adam’s means for salvation. Obeying God meant eating from every tree except one single tree, if this were done then Adam would not die. Adam met with God and knew the voice of God on a personal level, but Adam was give the power of human will. God gave Adam the choice of obedience and disobedience, it is crucial to understand that the blessings of God are synonymous with obedience.
After God had given Adam the choice of obedience and disobedience, he addressed Adam’s personal needs. Again, God cannot work in your personal life if you have not worked on your spiritual life. In verse eighteen, God finally addresses Adams need for a spouse. These three verses give a perfect online for how one should prepare for marriage. Apply oneself to spiritual growth and development and obey the commandments of God. A popular quote states, “If you make God’s business your business, He will make your business His business.” This is so true when preparing oneself for marriage. God understands the need for a spouse; this is the reason that he created the union of marriage in the first palace.
The problem arises when individuals attempt to rush the will of God in desperate hope to reach the same end, this thinking is flawed and extremely dangerous. In short people today circumnavigate around God when they do not pray and seek his guidance in choosing the right spouse. Adam and Eve both knew the voice of God on a personal level; Genesis 3:8 says, “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” It is essential that a healthy Christian relationship, between a man and a woman, be established upon a foundation of personal relationship with God. Both Adam and Eve spent time in communion with God, this same concept must be utilized within a Christian marriage. A relationship with God gives one a direct connection to the heartbeat of God’s desires for one’s life. When this is in effect it leads individuals to seek and follow the will of God in one’s personal life one a daily basis. Nobody enters into a marriage with the intention of divorce in the future. Divorce is one of those things that nobody plans for, yet it effects the lives of thousands of individuals everyday. Following God’s will and voice in one’s life helps in making the right choice upon whom to marry. Because the greatest way to prevent divorce is to simply marry the right person the first time.
Marriage in Comparison to our Relationship with God
Numerous times throughout the Bible the church’s relationship with God is used in the metaphor of marriage. While this is simply a metaphor there is also a lot that can be learned by studying how this relationship (marriage) is suppose to work. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Three verses later in Ephesians 5:28 it says, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” Remember that the Ephesians epistle is written by Paul who also penned the process of headship within a marriage in 1 Corinthians 11. Paul specifically states that a marriage is suppose to be a loving relationship. A husband is suppose to treat his wife with an abundance of love to the extent that he would grant himself.
We understand that marriage is the union of two individuals that gives themselves to each other becoming one flesh (Gen. 2:24). In Ephesians 5 this is what Paul is hinting at when he talks about the husband treating his wife as himself. Again Paul says in Ephesians 5:28, “… He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” The greatest thing a husband can do for himself is love his wife unconditionally. Extending love within a marriage is a two fold blessing because in a loving marriage the love that is extended returns. The process of loving and being loved is the same concept that is spoken of in 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” We can never completely return the love that God has shown us, but we can return in favor with love, devotion, and obedience.
While this paper is not a magical formula that will guarantee the perfect spouse and the perfect life, it is my belief that the core principles found within vest the keys to unlocking God’s will regarding marital determination. It is important to understand that marriage is hard work that does not come natural to anyone. This is why preparing for marriage is important, because mistakes in marriage are going to be made (we are humans after all), the goal behind preparing is being ready for them and limiting the amount of mistakes that are made. All in all the greatest preparation a person can make for marriage is establishing a healthy relationship with God.