There are 4 key concepts in biblical marriage. They include: marriage as a covenant relationship, marriage as a design for holiness, intimacy in marriage, and marriage as a reflection of Christ and the Church.
1. Biblical Marriage As A Covenant Relationship
From the beginning, God created people as both male and female. In the Garden of Eden, Yahweh noticed that Adam was lonely. He did not have a helpmate and was incomplete without her.
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” – Genesis 2:18
God said it was not good for man to be alone. He then took a rib from Adam’s innermost being and created woman. This is why Adam says the following:
“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 a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:23-24
The term “one flesh” means that two separate people become one in essence. Their wills, desires, commitments, and goals are to mirror one another so deeply that they exist as one entity. This concept of biblical marriage is a reflection of who God is.
Additionally, God made a covenant with the Israelite’s on Mount Sinai, informing them to pledge themselves to be faithful to the commandments of Scripture. The sign given by the Law of Moses was the sprinkling of blood of the covenant sacrifice, half upon the people and half upon the altar of the Lord. This demonstrated the promised faithfulness for both parties.
The same is true in marriage. When two people become one flesh, they promise to remain faithful throughout life. In other words, the covenant of marriage is a pledge for both parties to be faithful, loving each other through sickness and in good health.
2. Biblical Marriage As a Design For Holiness
Biblical marriage is the opposite of serving self. You must be willing to sacrifice time, energy, and your own comfort to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse.
We live in a world today that wants marriage to serve them, rather than the other way around. People find out quickly that marriage is hard work. Both parties must be willing to love one another and stay committed through difficult circumstances.
A key idea in biblical marriage is holiness. God desires that we be holy, for He is holy. Scripture encourages us to conform into the image of Jesus, and the only way for us to do that is by practicing holiness.
What exactly is holiness? Holiness is to be set apart from the rest of the world. God is holy based on His nature alone. For He is the only Necessary being in the universe; all other entities are created and therefore contingent upon Him. This sets God Almighty apart. This is his chief attribute.
Christian holiness is to practice the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22), which include: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. As followers of Yahweh, we must live righteously and reject impurity and sin. These attributes should be desired in order to live a life of biblical fidelity.
Contrary, sin is missing the mark. It is being disobedient to God’s righteous decrees. For instance, God tells us to honor our parents. When we choose to disobey this command, we are sinning and living unholy.
Moreover, God tells us to reject covetousness and greed. Therefore, if we are being jealous and want more than we need, then this is sin and living an unrighteous life. God tells us to repent of these actions, especially in our marriage.
Specifically, God commands that we marry someone who loves the Lord. We are not to be unequally yoked. Scripture makes this abundantly clear:
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14
When we marry an unbeliever, that partnership will not produce the fruit of the spirit. For the Bible states that righteousness and lawlessness can’t mix. They are like water and oil. They are polar opposites–light and darkness.
This doesn’t mean if our spouse is an unbeliever, we are to divorce them. God hates divorce and wants the believing spouse to remain married. Because when they do, they are made holy. Here is what the Lord God says about this specific situation:
“To the rest I say that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.” – 1 Corinthians 7:12:13
While this may not be the ideal situation, a marriage that leads to a believing and unbelieving spouse is better than divorce. In fact, God is honored and glorified because the believer makes the partner holy.
I would say this is even a reflection of how God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. This invitation of love was granted even to the wicked and unrighteous.
“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” -Hebrews 2:11
Finally, biblical marriage guides us along with the Holy Spirit to be sanctified. Our spouses keep us accountable to God. Husbands and wives can pray for one another. They can counsel and encourage in times of difficulty. Thus, the whole process of christian marriage leads to a righteous life.
3. Biblical Marriage As A Sanctuary For Intimacy
Intimacy in marriage is a sanctuary. It is a safe place for committed partners to express wholehearted affection towards one another. This includes both the physical and emotional union of togetherness.
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22
God warns us to flee from sexual immorality and fornication. Our intimacy should be expressed with only our spouse. When our love is kept for the wife, the Lord says we find a good thing. Not only that, but God gives us favor and blesses our lives.
“Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” – Proverbs 5:18.”
You might have heard the phrase: “People look for love in all the wrong places.” However, this statement doesn’t apply in a healthy biblical marriage. This is because God made marriage as a union, as a sanctuary to protect us from lust and sexual impurity. When we are rejoicing in our spouses and expressing our love towards them, there is protection and blessing.
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” – 1 Peter 3:7
It’s important to recognize that males and females are created equally yet with different abilities. For instance, the Bible tells husbands to show honor to the woman since she is the weaker vessel. This doesn’t mean she is less able than the husband, but is more physically fragile.
In fact, the husband is to show honor to her since both are heirs of the grace of life. This makes it clear that God created humankind as co-heirs and co-equal in our redemption and faith. When we honor the Lord by serving our spouses, God will listen to our prayers and answer them from heaven.
4. Biblical Marriage As A Reflection Of Christ And The Church
Biblical marriage symbolizes the beautiful union between the Lord Jesus Christ and the church of God. As husbands, we are to sacrificially love our wives in everything we do. As wives, we are to honor our husbands and respect them. The Bible expresses this idea here:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” – Ephesians 5:22-23
Throughout centuries, people have taken this verse out of context. Unloving husbands may use the word “submit” as an excuse to be overly controlling and resentful to their wives. On the other hand, dishonoring wives may resist the idea of the biblical definition of submission and try to usurp the husband’s natural authority given by God.
The wife has every right to disagree with her husband. She has the authority to reject his wishes if they are contrary to the word of God and biblical faith. However, if the husband is leading in an honoring way and desires biblical holiness, the woman should fully support his convictions.
Moreover, when the husband and wife both accept their role in biblical marriage, God will sanctify them. Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her by the word of God, so we as husbands can do the same for our spouses. These truths are incredible.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” – Ephesians 5:25-33
A similar passage teaches the concept of biblical marriage as a reflection of Christ and the church. The role of Christ is to sanctify, cleanse us, and present the church to God Almighty in splendor, without any stain.
The reason we have no stain is not a result of our own righteousness. Instead, the lamb of God, Jesus of Nazareth, took away our sins by dying on the cross. Furthermore, Jesus lived a perfect life and attributed His righteousness to us so that we might stand before the majestic king without blemish.
I believe these 4 key concepts: biblical marriage as a covenant relationship, as a design for holiness, intimacy in marriage, and a reflection of Christ and the Church–is God’s design for humanity.
Covenant relationships remind us of biblical faithfulness. It offers us an opportunity to express God’s steadfast love and grace. Holy matrimony gives us a shadow of how much God is committed to our well-being.
Biblical marriage as a design for holiness is an integral piece for proper function. When the goal of each spouse is to serve, love, respect, and grow in holiness, their marriage will blossom. Moreover, it will give honor and glory to God since it reflects His holy attributes.
Intimacy in marriage is pertinent for a satisfying marriage. When we are able to express our love, both physically and emotionally, it reveals how God wants us to be happy and satisfied. The creator of this universe wants us to enjoy the marriage union and live for His glory.
Finally, biblical marriage is a reflection of Christ and the church. Just as Christ gave up his life for others, so we must give up our own comforts and self-centered attitudes. Furthermore, God’s love for humanity is the greatest love story ever told. When we embrace this truth in our marriage, we will be truly free.
© Chad Damitz, 2020