In the last post, we discussed how the Bible allows for people to live either as single and celibate or married. We looked at the gift of singleness primarily from 1 Corinthians 7. Now let's take a look at God's design for male/female relationships, marriage.
The Creation of Marriage
In the creation account in Genesis, we are told that God created both male and female in the image of God. In Genesis 2:23, we get to see the first marriage ceremony as God creates the woman from the rib of the man. In the creation of the woman, man was given a partner and helper in the task that God had given him which is to fill the earth and subdue it. In Genesis we are told that marriage exists because God first created the institution. We are given the commentary on this event in Genesis 2:24-25:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Notice that marriage was created before sin was brought into this world through Adam and Eve's disobedience. Marriage was never an evil necessity in response to sinful humanity, but given by God as a good and perfect gift. Marriage and sexuality are God's idea, therefore the definition of marriage or the practice of our sexuality is never dictated by the culture perspective of the day, but by the Word of God. This is an important point to remember as we discuss dating and relationships. God's definition of the covenant of marriage is very specific and defined by the Bible.
God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman for one lifetime. That's the ideal. That is the way God created marriage to be. However, although this is God's plan, because of sin's rampant destruction in our world divorce happens (permissible or not, we can debate that in another blog post). In fact, many look around our society and question, "Why would you even want to get married. Clearly with the sky high divorce rate and the failure and heartbreak that comes with so many marriages, we should just give up on the institution." However the problem isn't with the institution of marriage itself, but rather with the depraved hearts of those who enter them. The reason there are so many defunct marriages is simple, sin. However although sin plays a part in destroying so many marriages, the institution should not be given up or abandoned, but practiced as God intends it to be.
Marriage is God's plan for male/female relationships. As we think about the purpose or end game of dating, we must think of it through this lens. When it comes to dating, the purpose must not be to simply have a good time or eat a good dinner, but to move towards the goal of marriage. Therefore, as you think about dating, you must never forget the purpose for which you are dating, to find a spouse. I say this because so many people forget that this is the goal. Do not just keep on dating a person knowing that you have no future with them. Therefore be purposeful as you date, knowing that the end goal is marriage.
The Importance of Marriage
Marriage is incredibly significant. There is a reason that God uses the illustration of marriage to describe His relationship between Christ and His church. Marriage is God's only plan for male/female relationships. If we are going to live our lives in a way that is holy and pure, then we must understand that the sexual union and the lifelong covenant that comes with the one flesh relationship of marriage needs to be taken seriously. There are two options for a Christian, singleness or marriage. The decision to enter into marriage does not need to be taken lightly and finding the right person to marry can be a challenge. In the next post we will look at some practical counsel on Christian dating and choosing the right spouse.