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The Bible regards marriage as a union between a man and woman. In the Garden of Eden, God created man and woman and then established the marriage institution. During creation, God realized that man would be alone and lonely without company, hence the need to come up with a helper.
The book of genesis 2:24 (King James Version), says “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they will be one flesh.” From the creation story, it is evident that God instituted marriage as a union between man and woman.
Although God instituted marriage as the foundation of family and society, His apostle declared that Christians could opt to remain single so long as they could control their urges and avoid indulging in immoral sexual behaviors.
Some patriarchs and prophets such as Jeremiah, Elijah, Paul, and even Jesus never married. Hence, marriage in the Bible is an issue that has divided Christians based on the Biblical interpretation because some root for marriage while others support celibacy.
Importance of Marriage
After creating man, God realized that man could not live happily without companionship and thus created a helper for him. Since the Garden of Eden was very expansive and Adam was not able to dress it on his own, God reasoned that he needed a companion and helper. When Adam woke up from deep sleep, he recognized Eve as part of his bones and flesh.
Adam expressed satisfaction in having Eve as his companion and helper. Adams (1986) asserts, “God designed marriage as the foundational element of all human society” (p.4).
During creation, Adam and eve formed the basic unit of society and thus set the precedent of marriage as a union of a man and a woman. Hence, God instituted marriage as a source of companionship for man and woman as they tended the Garden of Eden (Hanegraaff, 2012).
Marriage is also important to humans because it provides them with the ability to procreate and build strong societies that respect human dignity. God created only Adam and Eve and through procreation, they have multiplied and filled the earth with billions of people.
According to the book of genesis 1:28, after creating a man and a woman, God bestowed them with blessings and told them to “…be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Adam and Eve used their power to procreate and multiply populations, thus replenishing the earth so that they could rule the world. Hence, the procreation capacity of marriage has helped humanity to multiply and replenish the earth as per the blessings that God gave to Adam and Eve during creation.
Is it compulsory?
In the Bible, marriage is not compulsory, but it depends on the interests of a person. However, catholic has made it compulsory for nuns and monks to stay away from marriage. Catholics believe that celibacy is a better option because it relieves a person from marriage and family responsibilities and increases commitment to spiritual issues.
In his concession, Paul asserts, “…it is not good for a man to touch a woman” (1 Corinthians 7:1). Some Christians have taken the concession that Paul made in Corinthians and practiced celibacy as a means of dedicating their lives to spiritual matters. Christians who practice celibacy have accepted that marriage is not good because it interferes with spiritual matters that God has ordained for them to perform.
For example, when Jesus was selecting his disciples, he told them “follow me”, but one gave an excuse that he wanted to go home and bury the dead while another said he wanted to return home and bid farewell to his family (Luke 9:59). In marriage, people experience many challenges that can distract them from pursing their missions as ordained by God. Hence, Paul’s sentiments explain why nuns and monks do not marry.
However, most Christians accept marriage as a holy institution that should form the basis of family and society. Without marriage, it would be very hard for Christians to instill Christian values and principles on families and the general society. Thus, marriage is a basic unit of family and society, which has a noble role of defining morality in the society.
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Sexual immorality has been a setback, which has been downgrading the essence of marriage in modern society. Campbell (2003) argues, “Extramarital acts of sexual love are, no less than unloving begetting, attempts to put asunder on what God joined together…” (p. 266).
Owing to immorality, Paul admonishes Christians, “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Therefore, most Christian factions advise their members to marry to avoid the temptations of immorality, which is exceedingly rampant in the modern society.
Role of Husband and Wife in Marriage
During creation, God defined the responsibility of a woman as a helper. After God created Adam, He noted that he had a great responsibility of tending the Garden of Eden, and thus decided to create a helper for him. The creation story says that God made Adam sleep before removing one of his ribs out of which he molded Eve.
When Adam woke up, he recognized eve as part of his bones and flesh. As a helper, a wife plays a significant role in assisting her husband to perform certain duties. According to Adams (1986), God created Eve to help man in procreation purposes and in tending the Garden of Eden. Therefore, wives and husbands have common duties on this earth.
The Bible states that a husband should be the head of the family. Husband has a great responsibility of providing to the family and ensuring that family members have protection from external forces. The book of Ephesians advises women to submit to their husbands “for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body” (5:23).
Moreover, the Bible apprises husbands to show their wives unconditional love for Christ did the same when He went on the cross.
In this view, Campbell (2003) advises that husbands should not treat their wives and children as slaves, but rather they should “treat their wives as equals, assuming their God-given responsibility of caring, protecting, and providing for them” (p. 60). Hence, husband and wife have complementary roles in the family, which are essential in caring, providing, and protecting their family members.
Divorce and Remarriage-marriage
Problems in marriages have compelled many couples to divorce and remarry. Cases of divorce are rampant is the modern society because social, economic, and cultural problems have increased in the past decades.
The Bible views marriage as an eternal union between man and woman as it states that when people get married, they become one flesh and thus, “what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mathew 19:6).
Although Moses instructed Israelites to divorce their wives by giving them a divorce certificate, Jesus said that God permitted divorce because people have hardened their hearts; however, but God does not sanction divorce.
Hence, when Jesus came, he tightened the issue of divorce among Christians by saying, “Whosoeuer putteth away his wife, & marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoeuer marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery” (Luke 16:18). In this statement, Jesus prevents married couples from divorcing and remarrying as they please for it is against marriage principles as instituted by God in the Garden of Eden.
Fundamentally, marriage is a holy institution that God started in the Garden of Eden. It consists of union between a man and woman who have agreed to stay together in a marriage. Although Paul gave his opinion that celibacy is good, some religions have made it compulsory for religious servants to uphold chastity in a bid to ensure total commitment to spiritual matters.
However, the Bible teaches that to marry or not to remain single is a personal issue that no one should impose on another. Therefore, people should respect marriage by making an informed decision on whether to marry or not, and when they marry, they should understand that the Bible does not permit divorce.
Adams, J. (1986). Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible: A fresh look at what Scripture teaches. New York, NY: Zondervan.
Campbell, K. (2003). Marriage and Family in the Biblical World. New York, NY: InterVarsity Press.
.Hanegraaff, H. (2012). The Creation Answer Book. Colorado, CO: Thomas Nelson.