Author: Ron Graham
What God Says About Marriage
—Part 1, The joining of man and woman in matrimony
We need to hear what God says about marriage. Marriage is a “holy estate” instituted by God who created man and woman as equals. The married man and the woman complement each other.
1 God Intends That Man and Woman Should Marry
God says marriage is good. He intended Adam and Eve to be husband wife, a complementary pair. Likewise, God intends men and women today to marry, "each man having his own woman, and each woman her own man" (1Corinthians 7:2).
Man and Woman Living As God Intended
Being single all one’s life is not the natural or intended state. God intended that each man should take to himself a wife, and each woman should take to herself a husband (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-5).
Celibacy, in certain circumstances, can be a good thing (1Corinthians 7:1), but "forbidding to marry" is contrary to the gospel (1Timothy 4:1-3, cf 1Timothy 5:14). Jesus gave his approval to marriage by attending the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-2).
Man and Woman Living For Each Other
Notice God’s intention carefully. There was to be a LEAVING of father and mother, and a CLEAVING of husband to wife (Genesis 2:24). The relationships to parents become secondary, and the relationship between husband wife becomes foremost. Whilst family responsibilities should not be neglected, loyalty and devotion to husband or wife must come first.
2 The Two Who Marry Should Live As Equals
There is a view of marriage in which the husband is regarded as the greater of the two. The wife is considered the lesser mortal. The Bible, however, nowhere teaches that a wife is inferior to her husband.
Again, notice God’s intention carefully. According to the Bible, man was created in two forms: male and female (Genesis 1:27). God first created the male, Adam. But God said, " It is not good for the man to be alone", and he created the female, Eve, as a companion for Adam. She was "a helper comparable to him" (Genesis 2:18).
Eve was not inferior to Adam. Woman is not a lower creature. Rather, man and woman are equal and complementary. This is portrayed in the poem about "an excellent wife" (Proverbs 31:10-31).
3 The Two Who Marry Should Become One Flesh
God Approves Sex in Marriage
According to the Bible, sex between a man and a woman married to each other must not be thought unwholesome. Fornication —sexual intercourse outside wedlock— is sinful, and "God will judge fornicators and adulterers". However within marriage a sexual relationship is the proper thing. In marriage, "the bed is undefiled" (Hebrews 13:4).
In unusual cases, two people who are married may not have a complete sexual relationship. Either they are prevented for some reason, or they prefer not to. That is their own private business. However, we should understand that there is nothing especially holy and nothing superior about this state, nor should it ever be imposed in the name of Christ.
God Condemns Sex with “Strange Flesh”
God says about marriage that the married couple "shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-5). The physical union of man and wife is good in God’s sight (Hebrews 13:4).
But God also says that in all other sexual couplings the act involves "strange flesh" (Jude 1:7). Strange flesh means any flesh not one’s own. One’s own body is not strange flesh of course. Nor is the body of one’s husband or wife as described in Genesis 2:24.
God also says about marriage that each owns the other’s body (1Corinthians 7:1-6). Sex is not only permissable, but proper between the two, because they are uniquely one flesh to each other and in God’s sight, not strange flesh.
By contrast, to become one flesh with a harlot is to make a travesty of your body’s purpose, and to commit something improper in God’s eyes (1Corinthians 6:15-16).
Various marriages and couplings may be condoned by civil law, but they are not permitted under Biblical law. The Bible condemns sexual intercourse generally, but condones it specifically between one man and one woman married to each other (Genesis 2:24, Romans 1:25-27). Other relationships may be approved in many minds but they do not have the sanction of Jesus Christ according to the Bible.
God Says “Flee Fornication”
Because of the importance of abstaining from intercourse with strange flesh, everyone should take great care to avoid the sexual union of one’s own body with another body. God says that marriage is the only exception to this, and he smiles on one’s union with the body of one’s husband or wife.
Even flirting can jeopardise one’s marriage or one’s celibacy. You don't need to advertise your sexuality or use it to play games. The Bible says, " flee fornication" (1Corinthians 6:18).