The Bible teaches that the institution of family is of divine origin and purpose. It also provides guidelines for good relations within the family. A commitment to the divine principles provides today’s best hope for the recovery of family life. Marriage is a divine institution, ordained and regulated by God’s word. It is found in every human culture. God formed humanity as male and female with the intent that a man leave his father and mother to cling and commit to a permanent union with one woman (Gen 2:24).
It is the first institution established and elevated to the most intimate of relationships by God and the only one founded before the fall of man. Many people throughout the ages have questioned, rebelled against or attempted to change the pattern of this ideal covenant forged by God. Rooted in a divine origin, marriage is an institution that is not subject to the human school of thoughts, electoral process, political correctness or even the cultural trends that influence the tide of traditional or liberal thinking today. We can either listen to the world's opinion or the Lord's Word. Those are the only two choices. Either we go with the flow of what's happening in our society, and give in to the whole system or we hold up the Word of God and say ‑ This is what God requires. And as for me and my house, we will hear the Word of the Lord.
In Matthew's gospel, we have the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ on the subject of marriage. When some people confronted Jesus about grounds for divorce, his response affirmed God’s original and perfect blueprint for marriage—the Creation ideal.
Pay attention as I read Matthew 19, verses 1 to 6, “When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there. Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:1-6).
In His Sermon on the Mount the Lord had already declared that ““You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce. But I say that a man, who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery." Matthew. (5:31-32). Jesus answered the question not on the basis of rabbinic custom and the debate but rather from the account of creation and God’s original design. Jesus in effect said, "Haven't you ever read the book of Genesis?” And the Lord answered them by directing the Pharisees to God's original intention in marriage. Jesus gives Four fundamental reasons why divorce is wrong.
First, God made Adam and Eve in the beginning, male and female. In Genesis 1:27 the Hebrew terms male and female are emphatic, i.e., the one male and the one female. The original purpose of creation was that Adam and Eve would remain together as husband and wife. When God created, He created Adam and Eve. There were no spares. There were no options. There were no alternatives. And that was the divine intention in the very beginning...one man, one woman, divine plan, no option. He didn't not make provision for polygamy. He did not make provision for divorce by making any spare people. There was no option and that's the whole point of what He's saying.
Second, God said originally that the man would "leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." The first is one man created for one woman; the second is a strong bond. Remember that neither Adam nor Eve had an earthly parent, so the statement was meant for future generations. The word translated cleave (Heb. dabaq) means to bind together; to be glued together, speaking of intimacy and commitment. The design of marriage was the contracted union between two people, who become one entity, i.e., "one flesh." They are not to be consider two, but one! So God's divine wonderful order, God's perfect purpose and plan, and that they should leave their parents and cleave ... and the word cleave is the word we want to note. It means, basically, to have a bond that can't be broken. It's a word that's used really for glue. It means to be stuck.
In the Jewish language the word for marriage they use in Hebrew is kiddushin. basically means consecration or sanctification. To consecrate means to set something apart to God. To sanctify means the same thing to set something apart to God. And when a Jew said something was' kiddushin, they meant that it had become the personal possession of God. Anything totally surrendered to God was kiddushin and that is their word for marriage. So, marriage is a consecration of two people to each other. It is a consecration that says I am totally separated, apart from anything else, unto you. It is a union, then, of two people whose utter devotion is to the other, who become the personal possession of the other person. That's why I Corinthians 7 says that you do not belong to you, you belong to your spouse and your spouse belongs to you, it is an exchange, it is an utter and total complete abandonment of myself to my partner, that's kiddushin.
The idea that marriage is not only a setting apart unto each other, and a consecrating to each other, but it is a setting apart and a consecration of that union to God. And that is the purest perspective of marriage. So marriage is a total commitment, total consecration, tot al setting apart, total sanctification where one person becomes the utter and exclusive possession of the other person as much as a sacrifice brought by a Jew to the altar was kiddushin to God... so am I offering, myself utterly and totally and fully surrendered to my partner... that is the essence of marriage, an indissoluble union with no option... strong bond, pursuing one another, one male, one female.
There's a third reason why marriage does not allow itself to be broken and that is because of one flesh... one man, one woman, strong bond and thirdly, one flesh. Jesus pointed out that God Himself brought Adam and Eve together. If God Himself joined them, then no man or woman should separate them! "They two shall be one flesh, wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh." And the point of the second statement, they are no more two, is this, you can't divide one. One is the indivisible number. They aren't two anymore. So you can't separate them anymore. Divorce is a perversion of God's original intention and Jesus stood committed to the high standard of the Genesis account! Because all generations are to leave parents and join together in an intimate commitment of companionship; and God Himself has brought a couple together and forbids anyone from separating them.
And then finally, a fourth reason, and this to me is the coup de grace, this being the strongest of all biblical reasons why divorce is not God's desire. The end of verse 6, "...what therefore God hath joined together, let not man divorce." This is God laying down the truth about marriage and God said ‑ I make marriages. And you better not take them apart. It's a God ordained institution. It's an act of God. It is God who has made a man and a woman complement each other so they come together with the capacity to enjoy each other, to be fulfilled by each other, to be strength to each other's weaknesses, to produce children, to procreate the world. That's a miracle of God.
However every couple eventually has to deal with problems in the home—there is no perfect marriage and family. Problems like selfishness, finances, communication, and conflict resolution are all important to work through in order to cultivate strong, loving relationships. If you want to experience marriage the way it was designed to be, you need a vital relationship with the God who created you and offers you the power to live a life of joy and purpose. Jesus said, "I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly." And Psalm 16:11 tells us that in God's presence is "fullness of joy."
God gives us a biblical plan for making family relationships work—and then He gives us the power to follow that plan through a relationship with Him. Being rightly related to the Lord Jesus brings a divine dimension to marriage. When both the husband and the wife are in a vital, growing relationship with the Lord, they can pray together. They can worship together. They can discuss the things of God together. Their mutual relationship with God moves their own relationship beyond the physical into the spiritual. Thus, their love is stronger, purer and more enduring than it could ever be otherwise.
A spirit of mutual submissiveness should prevail in the family. The secret of maintaining joyful fellowship in the family is the willingness to submission of one person to another (Ephesians 4:2, 3). Jesus had emphasized that each disciple should be willing to be considered the least (Matthew 18:1-4; 20:28). He illustrated this when he washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). Paul taught this same principle elsewhere (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3), and Peter did as well (1 Peter 5:5).
The Bible contains God’s plan for achieving quality and Blessed family life. There are several non-negotiable essentials that stand as pillars in every strong, spiritual marriage. So we are constrained to take very seriously the Word of God as it relates to the family. That is why we must examine this text, Ephesians 5:18-6:4, which gives us God's pattern.
In studying the Biblical guidelines for the home, it is important to notice from the outset that every requirement is reciprocal. “Husbands, you are to do this; wives, this. Children, you must do this; parents, this.” When God’s directions are understood and obeyed by every family member, each person can find contentment and fulfillment.
The wife is to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ. She is not asked to surrender to the authority of a selfish tyrant; instead she is to follow a loving savior—someone who is willing to die for her. Naturally if her husband demanded that she do something contrary to God’s commands, such submission would be wrong (Acts 5:29). The husband is told to love his wife as much as he loves his own body. At the same time, his partner is to show him not only love, but respect.
In a world where women were not highly regarded, Jesus brought equality and respect to womanhood. Paul gives married couples specific directions as to how God wants them to live and treat each other. The wife’s role is that of submission to a savior, and the husband’s responsibility is love until death. He loves her as much as he loves his own body!
In similar fashion, both parents and children are given specific instructions about how they are to live within the family framework. Citing the Ten Commandments, Paul reminds every child what God expects. He is not saying that parents are infallible, but he is saying that sons and daughters must honor and obey them. The Old Testament specifically ties such honor with a long and good life (Deuteronomy 5:16). Longevity and well-being are promised to the children who obey this command.
Even this relationship is reciprocal, however. Just as children are to be obedient to fathers and mothers, so parents are to be understanding of their children. Martin Luther said, “Spare the rod and spoil the child—that is true; but beside the rod keep an apple to give him when he has done well.”
Fathers are specifically told not to provoke their children. Instead, they are to be brought up in the training and instruction of the Lord. .” Provoking children can be done in many ways: by overprotection, favoritism, discouragement, and neglect. Discipline is essential in the home; but not unnecessary rules and regulations and endless petty correction by which children are discouraged. The apostle offers similar counsel to the Colossian church: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21).
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. To train means “to narrow,” conveying the thought of marking a clear path for our children by removing the unnecessary and focusing on that of lasting value—setting ethical boundaries (Proverbs 13:6). Many parents unwisely encourage their children to experiment with various philosophies of life. We should spend more time teaching our children the truth instead. The purpose of Proverbs was to first develop, especially in the young, a right relationship with the Lord. Then that relationship allows the person to acquire God’s understanding, wisdom, justice, discernment and discipline so the person can live a godly life.