Sometimes people get a little confused knowing just what marriage is about. Since God started marriage, let’s look in the Bible to see just what marriage is and what the relationship between a married man and his wife ought to be like. (Note: All following scriptures taken out of the KJV).
1) Marriage started with Adam and Eve
Marriage was very different in the Bible. In the beginning, Marriage was solely between a man, a woman, and God. There was no ceremony preformed by a pastor or other government official, and there was no contract with any kind of government such as a “marriage license” which gives you rights to tax benefits, etc. How then were people considered married? In Genesis, God gives you His definition of marriage. Let’s take a look:
Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
The key words in this passage are “cleave” and “one flesh”. First a man leaves his father and mother. Next he cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh. When the KJV was translated “cleave” meant: “To unite or be united closely in interest or affection; to adhere with strong attachment,” (Websters 1828 Dictionary). “One flesh” is defined at the time as “intimate relations,” (Websters 1828 Dictionary under “Flesh”). So we see the Biblical version of marriage is also composed of three parts: 1) Leaving the father and mother. 2) Man and woman “cleaving” together, otherwise committing to stick together. 3) Man and woman becoming “one flesh” (or having intimate relations, aka sex.). There was no ceremony, there was no contract, there was no preacher there to marry them. Adam and Eve, the first man and woman were married, and there was no other human there to marry them. Instead God brought them together as husband and wife.
Gen 2:23 “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.”
Gen 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
Gen 2:25 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
The above passage is clearly talking about Adam and Eve, and refers to them in Genesis 2:25 as “man and his wife,” after they have been “one flesh” in Genesis 2:24.
We also see how God performs the marriage ceremony himself in Matthew:
Matt. 19:6 “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
“What therefore God hath joined together…” this is very important. When a man and woman become “one flesh” together, God joins them together. Essentially God is marrying them just as a pastor or justice of the peace would do today.
We also see the same thing in Mark 10:6-9:
"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
So now that we’ve established what “biblical” marriage is compared to today’s “government” marriage, let’s take a look at how marriage first started.
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. 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. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
God created Adam, the first human being. God said that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. God created all animals, and still, they weren’t good for keeping Adam company or being a “help meat” for him… in other words a “helper”. So God took one of Adam’s ribs and from that made a woman, Eve, the first woman in existence. Just as God gave Adam the right to name every living creature created, he also let Adam name the other sex “woman” which means “from man.” The fact that God gave man dominion over all animals in another passage, and that Adam named all animals, and then he named women, and Eve, tells us that Adam was given some kind of ownership over Eve. (Now, not to hear nasty comments over that remark, but this is how the Bible says it. Not to say that we women are pets, or anything of the like, but it’s like if we get a pet turtle and name it Joe… that pet turtle is ours, yes? This is how it was with Adam. Recall it says “the man and HIS wife…” Today the pastor marries people and says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” but in the Bible it was “man and his wife.”
So quick recap… Eve was made from Adam’s rib. Adam named her. Eve was created to be a “help meat” for Adam as his wife, and was created so that he wouldn’t be alone. Again, not to get any nasty comments from women out there, but this is how it is from God’s own word. And if any women out there feel demeaned by this in any way, think about it this way: God thought it so important that Adam have a helper and have company that he went to all the trouble of creating women. Therefore, women are very important. We have an important job to do, and play an important role in marriage. Remember, if it wasn’t all that important, God wouldn’t have gone to the trouble at all.
2) The Marriage Relationship
So now that we’ve established what a “biblical” marriage is, and how marriage started, let’s look at the marriage relationship itself. How are husband and wife supposed to act towards each other? It’s all in the scriptures:
1 Corinthians 7:3-5
"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. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency."
Let’s start with that word benevolence. When the KJV was translated benevolence meant: “The disposition to do good; good will; kindness; charitableness; the love of mankind, accompanied with a desire to promote their happiness,” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). We see the Bible telling us that the husband should promote the wife’s happiness, and the wife should promote the husband’s happiness.
We see that the wife doesn’t have power over her own body, but the husband does, and the husband doesn’t have power over his own body, but the wife does… this means, if one wants sex, the other shouldn’t go and say, “oh, I have a headache,” etc etc, among other things just to get out of it like you see on the sitcoms today. This also goes along with the next sentence: “Defraud ye not one the other…” from the Websters 1828 Dictionary “defraud” means: “To deprive of right, either by obtaining something by deception or artifice, or by taking something wrongfully without the knowledge or consent of the owner; to cheat; to cozen; followed by of before the thing taken; as, to defraud; a man of his right.” So don’t deprive each other, and don’t cheat each other of something… although I am positive this is talking about sex because of the rest of the sentence. The only time it says to withhold sex is if it’s for an agreed upon amount of time to engage in fasting in prayer, otherwise if you withhold from your spouse Satan will tempt your spouse.
“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.”
This is kind of awesome ladies. The Bible commands men to take an entire year off after marriage just to bring cheer and happiness to their new wife. How cool is that? This is obviously a really important thing if God commands husbands to take an entire year off to do it. Making the spouse happy is very important in God’s eyes for a successful marriage.
“Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life.”
Here we see the husband is told to “live joyfully” with his wife… not just to live joyfully with her sometimes, but“all the days of the life.” Joyfulness is happiness… not grief, sorrow, or misery. This goes right along with promoting your spouse’s happiness. You want to stay away from things that will promote unhappiness or grief or sorrow in the life of you and your spouse… why on earth would you want to do things to grieve your spouse anyway?
“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.”
“Virtuous: Being in conformity to the moral or divine law; as a virtuous action; a virtuous life,” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). So a wife who has good morals and follows the Bible “divine law” is a crown to her husband. A crown is like a precious jewel… more than that a crown is something a king wears on the top of his head to show off to everybody. If a wife is a crown to her husband, he’s going to not only love her, but want to show her off so to speak… he will be proud enough of her to not hide her away from the world. A crown isn’t something a king sticks in a closet under a pile of dirty socks, it’s something he wears where everybody can see it.
"Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth."
According to the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, Treacherously means: “Violating allegiance or faith pledged; by betraying a trust; faithlessly; perfidiously; as, to surrender a fort to an enemy treacherously; to disclose a secret treacherously.” So to deal with his wife treacherously, he would have betrayed her, or been unfaithful, violating his pledge to be faithful to her. This passage tells us that GOD himself has been a witness of the commitment made between the husband and his wife. A man’s wife is his companion, and he has made a covenant (or a deal) with her, and should not break it.
Ok, so another quick recap: In all things, husband and wife should strive to make each other happy in the relationship. This is so important that it is repeated over and over in the Bible, and God even tells the man to take an entire year off to get the relationship stronger by making his wife happy, and visa versa (because obviously if he is there at home making her happy then she is going to be making him happy). A husband and wife should not “withhold” from each other, because after marriage they have become “one flesh” and are as one, and therefore do not have control over their own body, but of each other’s body. Spouses should strive to live“joyfully” together, rather than doing things intent on harming each other’s well being and living unhappily together. A “virtuous” wife will make her husband proud (this includes staying faithful), and a husband should not betray the covenant with his wife (this means he should stay faithful).
Just another quick note about the scripture taken from Malachi, it says the LORD was witness of the covenant between the man and wife, not another human being… just another indicator that there weren’t any ceremonies and government “witnesses” as there are today… marriage was all done by God.
So here’s the part where most people (especially women) have a problem with the Bible. The part where it tells the wife to submit to her husband. Let’s talk about that for a minute after reading a couple of scriptures.
“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”
First we see “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” This includes the husband. Next we see “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Not, wives submit yourselves to ALL men, just to your own husband, and you do it as you would submit yourself to God. Why? Why do we do this? Read on:
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.”
We submit ourselves to our husbands, because it is the place God has given us as women. Remember how Adam was allowed to name Eve, therefore being given some sort of ownership? It’s like, your parent’s name you when you are born, and you are your mother and father’s child… this is the same thing. God named Adam, Adam named Eve, etc. God has put us all in a hierarchy of order. This doesn’t make men better than women or visa versa, it is just the place we are given for now. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the church, which is head of the man, and man is head of the woman. Remember that women are made to be a help meat for man. We are given an important job to do. If it wasn’t important God wouldn’t have created us at all.
Let’s talk about something else for a minute too. The Biblical marriage between a man and a woman represents the marriage between Christ and the church later on after Chris’s return (and you’ll see that it represents that in a moment). “… even as Christ is the head of the church…” Jesus will be the husband and the church the wife (which we see in other scriptures throughout the Bible, but we won’t go into just now). If a Biblical marriage represents the marriage between Christ and the church (the body of believers), and Christ is over the church, and the church is submitting to Christ, then we can begin to make sense of why the husband is over the wife and why the wife submits to her husband. This is the Biblical order of things.
Lets look at some more from Ephesians.
"Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."
This tells men to love their wives just as Christ loved the church (his future wife). Christ loved all people so much that he DIED for them. Literally, he was nailed to a cross and left there until he died. He knew what he was doing. He himself was blameless and without fault or sin, but he did it so that we could be found blameless and without sin… he took the place for OUR sins… he took our punishment because he loves us THAT much. The Bible tells man to love his wife THAT much, just like Christ loves us THAT much. Remember, a husband and wife are “one flesh” and it says that a man that loves his wife loves himself. Just as Jesus nourishes and cherishes the church (his future wife), so should a man do this for his wife. Just as a man and wife are “one flesh” like Adam and eve, all believers (the church) are members of Christ’s body, flesh, and bones. We can begin to see now how a biblical marriage is representative of the future marriage between Jesus and the church which He died for.
Let’s finish this chapter of Ephesians.
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Again this speaks about the connection between a biblical marriage and the marriage of Christ and the church, and tells the man to love his wife as he loves himself. It also tells us though that a wife should “reverence” her husband. She should have respect and affection for him, and see him as an authority figure (taken from the definition from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them."
“Fit” means: “Suitable; convenient; meet; becoming,” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). It is what God meant for wives to submit themselves to their husbands, and it is also “becoming.” Again husbands are told to love their wives and not be bitter to their wives.
“Bitter” means: “Cruel; severe; as bitter enmity. Sharp, as words, reproachful; sarcastic,” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).
So let’s do one last recap about what the Bible has to say about the subject of marriage (and keep in mind this is not ALL that the Bible has to say about it):
1)Marriage started with Adam and Eve.
2)Eve and women were made for man to be a help meat and to be company for them.
3)Biblical marriage did not consist of a ceremony, human witnesses, marriage licenses, or any other government contracts. There were no preachers or pastors to marry Adam and Eve, only God.
4)The three parts to a biblical marriage are: A) Man and woman leave their parents, B) Man and woman “cleave” together (aka commit to each other), and C) become one flesh with each other. After these things have taken place God “joins” them together.
5)In all things husband and wife should strive to make each other happy.
6)Spouses should not withhold from each other unless it is agreed upon to do so for a small amount of time for fasting and prayer.
7)Spouses should strive to live “joyfully” together, and should not try to do things to make each other unhappy.
8)Both husbands and wives should honor the “covenant” made with each other and remain faithful to one another.
9)Women are commanded to submit to their husband, not all men.
10) Women submit themselves to their husbands because it is the place God has given them. God is head over Jesus, Jesus is head over the church (his future wife), man is head over his wife.
11) Biblical marriage is a picture of the marriage of Christ and the body of believers (the church) when Christ returns.
12) Husbands are not to be “bitter” (cruel or sarcastic) to their wives.
13)Wives are to submit themselves to their husbands as they would to God.
This study has taken all scriptures from the Authorized KJV. All definitions are taken from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary because that particular dictionary has the correct definitions for words used during the translation of the KJV.
This study is meant to inform, not to offend.