May 5, 2013 “The Divine Design of Marriage” Part Two on Marriage
Last Sunday we examined what the Definition of what marriage is: “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman United 2Gether 4 Life.” This definition is based on the foundation of Gen. 1:27 and Gen. 2:24, and Jesus quotes these in Mt. 19/Mk 10, and Paul quotes Gen. 2:24 in Eph. 5:31.
Today I want us to consider the Design of marriage, and, Lord willing, next Sunday we’ll look at the Delight of marriage.
God gives us His Divine Design for Marriage in Gen. 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” “
The Divine Design is a three-legged stool of Leaving, Uniting, and Becoming One Flesh
1. The first design of marriage is to leave your family of origin so that you can begin a new family of marriage. That is, marriage means publically leaving your parents so that you can commit to your spouse.
Leave: This word in the Bible has the sense of forsaking, of leaving something or someone behind, in order to begin anew with someone else, and to commit to that person. For example, we read in Ruth 2:11 that Boaz says to Ruth: “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.” You see, Ruth had to physically leave behind her place of birth and her family of origin, so that she could begin anew in Israel and commit to her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth’s new commitment TO Naomi took priority over all other relationships and commitments. In a greater way, marriage involves leaving your old family dependence and a new commitment that surpasses previous commitments. The same Hebrew word for “leave” is translated as “commit: in Psalm 10:14b “The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” So the first design of marriage in Gen. 2:24 is that the man and the woman both leave behind their families of origin in order to commit themselves to a new family of marriage, and that relationship takes precedence. Furthermore, that new commitment is something done publically and legally, so everyone know that this change in relationships has taken place.
There are two ways in which this design is being trampled on today in our culture:
The first is when either the husband or the wife really do not leave their families of origin; when they do not sever the ties enough to be bonded anew to their spouse. This can happen in a number of ways: (a) when a married daughter confides more in her mother than in her husband;
(b) when a married man spends more time with his old buddies than his wife; or
(c) when a couple do not separate themselves from their families financially, physically (living space), or emotionally. If that is your situation, take steps to repent and change.
The second way this design is distorted is when couples, including many professing Christians, live together/ sleep together before they are married. People say, “Why do we need a piece of paper (a marriage license) when all we need is to love one another?”
Here’s why you need to publically leave and commit yourself to another before you become one flesh: to leave someone is to give up, to make a sacrifice. And so the question becomes: “How much are you willing to lose for the sake of committing yourself to the other person? How much of your precious time, emotion, and resources are you willing to invest in your spouse? Tim Keller says that the willingness to get married, to take a wedding vow, is a test of how much you are willing to commit yourself to your spouse. So to say, “we don’t need a piece of paper (a marriage license) to prove anything” is really saying “my love for you has not reached the level of that kind of commitment. I don’t love you enough to close off all my other options.”
Marriage is a sacrificial commitment for the good of the other person. Marriage is not a consumer relationship; it is a covenant relationship. The Lord’s design for marriage is that a couple need to publicly leave their families of origin and take covenantal vows, before God, the state, and witnesses, BEFORE they become one flesh. Therefore the first design of marriage is to leave your family of origin so that you can begin a new family of marriage.
2. The second design of marriage is to cling to your covenant companion so that you grow to be best friends.
To leave your family of origin and to begin anew with your spouse is just the start of a lifelong relationship. God has also designed marriage to be refreshing fountain of growing affection and deep love between that one man and one woman.
The Hebrew word in Gen. 2:24 for “united” or “hold fast” can be translated as “to cling” [as in Ruth 1:14 “Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her” or Ps. 63:8 “My soul clings to you.”] In Deut. 11:22 the word describes a closeness to the Lord: “….to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him.” Perhaps the most vivid translation of the word is found in 2 Sam. 23:10, where we are told that Eleazar, one of David’s three mighty men “stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.” Can you picture that? He held tight to his sword for so long that it was if his hand were frozen to the hilt of the sword. That’s a picture of how God designs a husband and his wife to hold tight to each other!
God has designed marriage so that as you cling to your wife and stay “super-glued” to your husband, you have a secure relationship in which your love can grow and blossom!
We can see this design in Malachi 2:14b “…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.” The word “Partner” here is from the root meaning “to bind, to join, to unite (Gen. 2:24), and it means a close companion, a best friend, one you share deeply with. That’s God’s design for a husband and wife! Best friends with one another for life!
(Is that true of you, if you are married?)
Marriage is designed to be a covenant of companionship between one man and one woman for life. A husband and wife are to cling to one another in love and affection. The years of marriage should purify it, solidify it, and richly deepen it. As the years roll into decades, the married couple are more and more united in purpose, in love, and in ministry. God’s design for marriage is that we cling to our spouse like Cling Wrap; that we are joyfully stuck to each other with God’s Super Glue, never to be torn apart.
That’s why divorce is so devastating: picture two pieces of paper glues together; now try to separate them. What happens? Both papers tear apart. Or to use another picture, Divorce is taking a chain saw and cutting the children of that marriage in half.
To cleave, to be glued together, means that the husband and wife are closest to each other, closer than to anyone or anything else in the world; closer even than your children or your profession.
So if you are married, what are you doing to cling to one another, so you can grow to be best friends? Husband, are you still dating your wife? Do you make time to really stop and listen to one another? The second design of marriage is to cling to your covenant companion so that you grow to be best friends.
3. The third design for marriage is to become one flesh without shame.
How can two become one? In mathematics, 1 + 1 = 2, right? But in marriage, 1 + 1 = 1.The reason this works in marriage is because of the wonderful anatomical and complementary differences between a man and a woman. It is obvious that males and females were physically and sexually meant for each other. As Adam said when he first saw Eve: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen. 2:23)
Paul asks the rhetorical question in 1 Cor. 6:16 “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” Sexual relations involve more than a physical act–they join the two persons together as one.
So God’s design for marriage is that there is to be a one flesh/ sexual/ physical oneness between one man and one woman. This means the married couple shares everything they have: their bodies, their possessions, their thought and feelings, their hopes and fears, etc. To become one flesh means that the two persons- one man and one woman- become completely one in body and spirit, yet remain two different persons. [See the Liberian marriage chain.]
We read in Gen. 2:25 that “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” They were not only physically naked before each other, but they were completely open, honest, and transparent with each other. There were no secrets between them; there was no manipulating or conniving; they trusted each other fully and deeply! At that point, before they sinned, there was no humiliation in their marriage, no disgrace in their marriage, no disappointment in their marriage, and no frustration in their marriage!
God designed marriage to have that kind of no shame oneness, in which the husband and wife could be completely secure, free, and enraptured with each other!
And this is a profound mystery, which Paul later tells us in Eph. 5:32 is opened and fulfilled in the relationship of Christ and the Church, his bride. Christ designs and desires that we, His bride, have that kind of relationship with Him!
God made man male and female with their distinctive feminine and masculine natures and their distinctive roles so that in marriage as husband and wife we could display Christ and the church. Husband… you are called to display the sacrificial love of Christ’s headship.
Wife… you are called to display the submissive role of Christ’s body.
The mystery of marriage is that God had this double display (of wife and husband) in mind when He created us as male and female, and made us one in marriage.
So as the man and the woman are to leave their family of origin to start a new family, so Christ, the Son of God, left heaven and his Father’s side, to start a new relationship with us, His bride.
And a husband and wife are to cling steadfastly to their covenant companion, so that they grow to be best friends, so Jesus sacrificially came close to us, taking on our flesh, dying in our place, to establish a new covenant in His own blood, so that He could call us His friends.
And as a husband and wife become one flesh, without shame, so too Jesus united us to Himself, and as Heb. 2:11 tells us, Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers.
Christ took our sin, our guilt, and our shame upon Himself when He died for you and me, so that we could get a taste of God’s delightful design now, here on earth, but also so that we could enjoy such a relationship with Him forever in heaven!