by David W. Hall
Recently, we attended a wedding, and it was a strong
reminder of something very important both to
Christians and to society. Although some people
believe that marriage is part of nature and
established by common law, I take slight exception to
that idea. Hereís what I mean. It was clear to me that
this wedding bore the tincture of holiness; this was
not merely another civic ceremony.
Sure there is some part of this that is evidenced by
nature. However, marriage as we know it is a
distinctively and radically Christian institution.
1. It is decidedly Christological in thrust. Cf. Eph.
I want to share parts of two superb studies with you
today; and also look at Scripture--as I deviate from
my normal sermonic form.
2. Godís intention for marriage: From Gen. 2
Following Godís creation, Adam is alone, and
designated to categorize/name the animals. As they
pass before Adam, he names them, and in the process
also realizes that he is alone as a member of a unique
species. There is no one like him in skeletal
structure, in skin, in upright posture, with
linguistic ability, or with the mental capability to
categorize. God, who had planned all along to create
females, then declares that the time has come with:
"It is not good for man to be alone."
God then puts Adam to sleep and creates Eve from his
rib. That, of course, has never since been duplicated
and it is miraculous in its very nature. Upon awaking,
Adam views Eve for the first time. He is amazed at her
beauty and similarity to him. He exclaims, "Bone of my
bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Eve."
He now realizes that God has made a helper that
matches his form and nature.
God, at this early pre-social stage, is both Creator
Then follows in Gen. 2:24-25, the words that are
repeated in the NT: "For this reason a man shall leave
his father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the
two shall be one flesh.
That verse describes three God-defined, constituent
parts of marriage. First, it involves a leaving from
the childís home. We have a continuing obligation to
honor our fathers and mothers, but after marriage
things are different. For a young man or a young
woman, marriage symbolizes that he/she loves and
depends on the spouse more than the parents. Now if a
person has been reared in a good home, that is a
powerful compliment to another person. To love a young
man better than the dad who has nurtured and provided
and taught and guided a girl for [25-35] years is a
high compliment that can only come after much proving,
and after character has been thoroughly tested.
Conversely, for a young man to find a woman who is an
improvement over mom, a woman who is strong, kind,
spiritual, and faithful is a true find. To leave our
father and mother is not to ignore them; it is merely
the normal plan of God, but it signifies a large and
irreversible change in lifestyle.
Second, the marriage means that the two spouses will
turn toward one another, and cling to one another.
This refers to emotional mutual dependence, and it
indicates that a couple shares values, has common
goals, enjoys a friendship, and desires to be
together. Best friends cling to one another. Some
romantic relationships donít inspire that. A good
The third aspect is a physical union. They become one
flesh, and are capable of reproduction. All of this is
God has designed marriage with, at least, these three
goals in mind. To some degree, we can already answer
the "Why question" for marriage as follows:
Why Marry? Because God plans it to be the center of
nurture which gradually displaces parental nurture. It
is to be the stable center for friendship and
confidentiality, and it is the place for sexuality and
propagation of our children. All the while, it also
contains a picture of Christ and his relationship to
But there is another passage I also want you to
consider, cf. Malachi 2: To produce a godly seed. This
passage located at the last flurry of the OT is often
overlooked but is very important. The context is this:
It is about 440 BC. The Greek dominance is just
beginning. Famous Greek philosophers and historians
are about to be introduced to the worldís stage. The
Jewish civilization has peaked, and following the
return from Babylon, Israel will fight internal
apostasy and external oppression the rest of her
Of the twin evils, the most threatening one was
deterioration from within. There were several aspects
that haunted Israel. One was idolatry; every time her
morality collapsed there was a flirtation with
idolatry or false religion. Coincidence for a thousand
Israel also tried to cheat God by offering poor
sacrifices for worship. She avoided serving him and
giving as she should. The Book of Malachi also reveals
that she presumptively thought that she was immune
from Godís judgment because of her heritage. She
presumed a favored standing with God, even while she
was immoral and irreligious. She also had a high
divorce rate. Some people wrongly think--mainly due to
shocking facts--that a high divorce rate is new.
Unfortunately, that temptation has been around for a
long time--always with mammoth personal and societal
In the 2nd chapter of Malachi, the Lord speaking
through his prophet rebukes the Israelites for coming
to church, crying and wailing, complaining that God no
longer seems to answer their prayers. The problem was
that they came to the altar, without repentance, and
wanted blessing. It wonít work to act as if God
doesnít know your interior life. To come to church
with weeping, while also studiously clinging to sin
begs for Godís rebuke.
Then, with all the amazement of a child who does not
get its way, Israel asks, How in the world could God
not give us what we want? How could this happen to us,
the favored few? God answers in v. 14 with this: "It
is because the Lord is acting as the witness between
you and the wife of your youth, because you have
broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the
wife of your marriage covenant. (2:14)
Then Malachi poses a question: "Has not the Lord made
them one?"--a clear reference back to Genesis 2 and
the unchanging divine purpose for marriage. He
continues: "In flesh and spirit they are his. And why
[made] one? Because he was seeking a godly offspring."
That is another reason why marriage exists: So that
believers will be united and raise godly offspring.
God has entrusted to the home, the privilege of
bearing and raising the next generation of believers.
The remedy: "So guard yourself in spirit, and do not
break faith with the wife of your youth." We are to
protect our inner life, and resist that sin that
tempts us, and keep faith with our spouses.
God has ordained a special role for the believing
family. Part of its calling is to raise godly
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