The Story of Marriage in Seven Verses

One couple said they love the word of God, every jot and tittle, from cover to cover, and gladly submit their lives to anything and everything God has to say.

That may be the first time any couple has put it back on me to pick the passage. What would you choose for them? Instead of just one verse or passage, I tried to select what I thought (imperfectly, of course) might be the Bible’s seven most important verses on marriage. Here are the seven, each with just a taste of why.

 

Recently I married an unusually mature couple. Both groom and bride were in their late thirties. They had waited with admirable patience. Both were established in life and in faith, and they knew where they each stood: together on God’s word. Few couples, if any, that I’ve married have demonstrated such clear, solid, stable footing together on the rock of what God has said in the Bible.

So, it didn’t surprise me that when I asked them to pick a favorite passage or two for the wedding, they shied away from picking and choosing for themselves. They said they love the word of God, every jot and tittle, from cover to cover, and gladly submit their lives to anything and everything God has to say — even on their wedding day, when we’re so carefully picking and choosing everything else. They were genuinely eager to hear and embrace anything God had to say to them in front of their friends and family.

I was moved. That may be the first time any couple has put it back on me to pick the passage. What would you choose for them? Instead of just one verse or passage, I tried to select what I thought (imperfectly, of course) might be the Bible’s seven most important verses on marriage. Here are the seven, each with just a taste of why.

1. Genesis 1:27

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

From the very beginning, God made men and women with equal dignity as humans, and glorious complementary differences as men and women. God did not make men and women as essentially androgynous humans, with male or female accessories added at the end. Rather, we all are men or women all the way down, to every single cell in our bodies. We are different, marvelously different, in our physiology and our psychology. And these differences do not make men better than women, or women better than men, but they do make men and women better together.

After God formed the man, put him in the garden, and gave him the moral vision for life in the world, God said to him, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Throughout the creation account, at the end of each day, God declared his work good, good, good, good, good. Then at the end of day six, very good. But a man by himself? Not good. At least for the first man, and for most of us.

2. Genesis 2:24

A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

After God made the first woman and entrusted this remarkable gift to the man, God instituted what we call marriage. Two persons becoming one new entity. One man and one woman forming the most fundamental human relationship in God’s created world — a relationship even more fundamental than parent-child. A man will leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife. Under God, she is now his most fundamental commitment. So also, the woman leaves behind her father’s house (Psalm 45:10) to establish a new family unit with her husband. Under God, he is now her most fundamental commitment.

Yet, as promising as it begins, sin entered the world. The man failed to protect the garden. He let down his guard and allowed the serpent to have his wife’s ear, and she was deceived. Then the man himself, having heard God’s command firsthand, listened instead to the voice of his wife, and sinned against God. And now in this fallen and cursed world, marriage, the most fundamental relationship, is not without its severe pains and difficulties (Genesis 3:16).

3. Matthew 19:6

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.

Now we skip ahead thousands of years to the words of Jesus. Even though sin has invaded God’s creation, and often husbands and wives tragically find themselves struggling against each other, Jesus reinforces God’s vision of marriage in creation: “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” Sin may challenge, but it does not overturn, God’s original design. Marriage, in fact, is made to endure sin. God means for the two to become one, and not for the one to be torn apart into two.

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