The Foundations of Marriage

Title: The Foundations of Marriage

Bible Book: Genesis 2 : 18-25

Author: Calvin Wittman

Subject: Marriage



Some of you may recall the bizarre story of Larry Walters, from more than 25 years ago. On July 2nd, 1982, Walters, then a 33 year old Vietnam Veteran and a North Hollywood truck driver, did something that had never been done before. He filled some 45 weather balloons with helium, tied them to an aluminum lawn chair he had purchased at Sears, outfitted himself with a large bottle of soda, a pellet Gun, a portable radio and a camera and took flight over southern California. Within minutes after leaving the ground Larry began to go higher and faster than he had anticipated. While he had only planned to fly 300 miles to the Mojave Desert, the wind and balloons soon took him up to 16,000 feet. It wasn’t long before Larry found himself in the approach path to Long Beach municipal Airport. Pilots radioed in the strange sight, much to the disbelief of both other pilots and the control tower, and yet there he was. Larry Walters, flying in his homemade aircraft dubbed “Inspiration I.” Larry used his pellet gun to shoot out some of the balloons and soon found himself in some power lines about ten miles from where he took off. After hours of rescue work and shutting down the power to a major portion of Long Beach, Larry once again placed his feet on solid ground.

Larry was nominated for the “Darwin Award,” which is unceremoniously granted to people who exhibit stupidity above and beyond the call of duty.

You see, the problem is not that lawn chairs are dangerous, or that they somehow need to be redefined. The problem is not that weather balloons should be banned or redesigned, lawn chairs and weather balloons both have perfectly wonderful functions, but only when they are used for their intended purpose. Larry’s problem is that he used them for purposes they were never intended to fulfill.

While Walter’s stupidity is clear to all who hear his story, it is amazing that in our society these days, people continue to try to use things for purposes they were never intended to fulfill, and scratch their heads in wonder when they don’t work.

Perhaps there is no clearer case of people trying to use something the wrong way than with the institution of marriage. Across the United States many people see marriage as a convenience rather than as a covenant. They see it as something which is temporary rather than that which is permanent. They see it as something they are free to redefine rather than something which was defined and designed by God’s its Creator. And when they use if in ways it was not intended to be used and things don’t turn out like they want, they get frustrated, angry and hurt.

This morning we begin a four part series on marriage and the family, and I might add that it has to be one of the timeliest series of messages I have ever preached. Everywhere we turn marriages and families are under attack. The divorce rate among Christians equals that of non-believers, and while divorce leaves indelible scars on those who have broken the bond of marriage, children whose parents divorce suffer more than most people realize.

Across the country today there are radical groups trying to use marriage for something it was never intended to be. They are actively seeking to redefine what marriage is and how it should be structured. There are those who believe that marriage should simply be done away with, others who want to broaden its scope to include homosexual unions, and still others who see it is a group affair, where three or more people are all allowed to be part of the same marriage.

But while the world around us continues to sink into a cesspool of foolish and sinful indulgence, as followers of Jesus Christ and as children of the God of all creation, we have His word to tell us everything we need to know about what marriage is, what God intended it to be and how we can fulfill its God given purpose in our homes and lives. And I might add that I am thankful in a world which is constantly changing its concepts of what truth is, we have a sure and a certain word this morning, we have the unfaltering and infallible word of God to tell us what God says the truth is.

Open your bibles to Genesis chapter 2, where we’ll be focusing this morning on verses 18-25. (read text)

Before we get deeper into the text we need to have a common understanding of what we are talking about when we say marriage. A Christian marriage, or one from a biblical point of view, is the union of one man and one woman, before God, for all of life. It’s just that simple. The witness of scripture, throughout its pages, is that marriage was intended for one man and one woman for a lifetime. This is the model we find here in Genesis, it is the model which Jesus speaks of when He reiterates this passage in Matthew 19 and it is the model the apostle Paul sets forth as he writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

God never intended for a man to have more than one wife, and that means simultaneously or consecutively. From God’s point of view, one man and one woman for all of life is the model. Wherever we see men having more than one wife, more often than not, troubles are not far behind. This was certainly true for Abraham, it was true for Solomon, and it was true for David. Furthermore God never intended for homosexuals to be married. Not only does that violate God’s model of marriage, but scripture explicitly and repeatedly condemns homosexuality as a sin. So, irrespective of the shifting tide of cultural mores we may be seeing, whatever people want to call a union between two people of the same sex, from a historical and from a biblical perspective it cannot be called a marriage because it is not and never will be. Marriage is confined to one man and one woman for all of life.

So, understanding a basic definition of what the bible says marriage is, we now come to our text. There are four things I want you to see, here, four overarching things this passage tells us about God’s intention for marriage.

I. It was Purposeful

Note with me that our text takes us back to chapter verses 26-31, which describes the sixth day of creation. Our text is like a close up, or a more detailed commentary on what happened on the sixth day. Chapter one simply says that “God Created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” But here in chapter two we get a more in depth account of both why and how it happened.

God’s purpose for marriage is found in both chapters.

Notice two of God’s purposes in marriage here:

A. Creative Purpose

There was a creative purpose – in 1:28 God told them to be fruitful and multiply. One of God’s intended purposes for marriage was for men and women to have children, to be fruitful and multiply.

Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

While children can bring us the greatest consternation and cause the greatest concern of our lives, at the same time, there is no joy which can compare to that of being a parent. God intended it that way and as Christians we hold to the biblical truth that children are in fact a gift from the God of all creation. When we have children we are able to join Him in the process of creation and we are blessed to be entrusted with the nurture and development of that child into adulthood.

Our culture could not be more at odds with God’s word than it is at this point. Friday’s Baptist Press (April 17th, 2009) reported that Planned Parenthood, the country’s number one abortion provider, increased its count of the number of abortions is provides each year to more than 300 thousand, netting them more than a billion dollars in revenue. And all of this, I might add, is touted as “women’s rights.” What about the rights of the unborn and what about the fact that God has obliterated every culture which has sacrificed their children. Our fallen culture has chosen to ignore the simple truth that one of God’s purposes in marriage is procreation. God has a creative purpose in marriage, a purpose which is being thwarted by the murder of unborn children.

B. Completion Purpose

A second purpose in marriage is completion – In marriage both man and woman find their completion.

It is amazing how, from a physiological, a sociological and a psychological point of view, woman is the perfect fit for a man. Notice that in verse 18 God says, “I will make a helper suitable for him.” The word helper does not mean servant, because the same Hebrew word is often used in the Old Testament to speak of God helping His people Israel. It simply means that as man fulfilled his destiny of being fruitful and multiplying and subduing the earth, he needed someone to complete him, someone to help him, and for this very purpose God created woman.

God did not create two men, because there was no way that two men could fulfill God’s creative purpose, thus, in this sense, two halves don’t make a whole, just like two left shoes don’t make a pair. Even the Darwinists can figure out that we didn’t get here as the result of two men or two women being married. Woman was made to complete man and that is a role that only a woman can fulfill. Part of that completion was as a companion, or a person perfectly suited to him.

Look at verse 18…”God said, ‘it is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him.’”

God created woman to be a companion, a friend, a mate to complete man . But I want you to note that back in chapter one it says that “God created man in His image, male and female He created them.” This speaks to the reality that man and woman are both spiritually equal before God. They both bear the stamp of the Divine image. Amongst all of the religions of the world, it is a rare thing to find a faith that holds to the equality of men and women. You won’t find it among Muslims and you won’t find it among the Hindus. This is something which is distinctively a Judeo – Christian concept.

Unfortunately not all men who claim to be Christians have gotten the memo that their wives are their spiritual equals and are to be treated as such. It should not escape your notice here that woman was God’s final and crowing creation. She was not created to be inferior to man; she was created to be His equal.

We hold to a position known as complementarianism. Simply put this says that men and women, while equal before God, are assigned different roles, both in the home and in the church and are to complement one another as they fulfill these God given roles.

Many of the more liberal denominations have caved in to the culture and have embraced a philosophy known as egalitarianism, which holds that not only are men and women spiritually equal, but that there is no distinction between their roles.

God created men and women to be companions, not to be competitors.

Creation and completion are two of God’s purposes in marriage.

But not only is marriage purposeful, God also designed it to be pleasing.

II. It was Pleasing

The jokes about marriage seem to never end. I read this week about the ancient Greek sage Socrates who said, “By all means marry. If you get a good wife you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

Or what about the guy who said, “I never knew what happiness was till I got married….then it was too late.”

For all too many people, love was a wonderful thing that caused them to get married, then responsibility came, and the bonds of love quickly became a ball and chain and they walk through life like zombies, half alive and half dead. But marriage was never intended to be that way at all, neither for men nor for women.

Look at verse 23. Remember the context. Adam has just finished naming all the animals of the earth. And while there are many comics who make jokes about that, it was serious business. In the Old Testament names described the very essence of something. That’s why Jacob was given a new name, meaning “prince of God.” Adam has viewed all of God’s creation and there yet there was no one for him, no one like him. God said that it was not good for him to be alone and causes him to fall asleep, something which speaks to the fact that most of what God does He does without our involvement and without our knowledge. And while Adam is asleep God takes one of his ribs and makes a woman. The Hebrew words for man and woman share the closest of relationships. Man is “ish’ and woman is “isha”, meaning, “out of man.” So God creates woman and brings her to man and he says, “This is now bone of MY bone and flesh of My flesh;” The emphasis here is on the word “My.” She is like Him, she is from him. Thus He says, “She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.”

I can assure you that when Adam first laid his eyes on Eve, He as one happy camper. He was getting all excited. He had seen all of God’s creation but he’d never seen anything that affected him the way this woman did. I promise you, Adam was quite pleased. Not only was he pleased to see her, he was pleased to have someone with whom he could share his life. God intends marriage to be a pleasing thing, physically, emotionally and spiritually for husbands and wives.

Marriage is more than about companionship, it is about shared life experiences. I think back nearly 28 years ago when Diane and I got married, She was 21 and I was 22, we were kids. We’ve literally grown up together. We’ve shared the birth of three children, the good times, the tough times, lots of laughter, a few tears here and there and a lot of love together. The joy of marriage is not found simply in having someone to be with, but in having someone with whom you can spend your life.

Which brings me to my third observation here, and that is that God intended it to be permanent. Look at verse 24…

III. It was Permanent

God never intended for marriage to be temporary, it was meant for a lifetime. The two are made to be one flesh, not till their feelings change, not till they see someone else they with whom they want to experiment. Marriage is meant to be a lifelong covenant.

This is clear from what Jesus himself says when, in Matthew 19:6, when, after quoting this verse in Genesis He says, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Jesus understood the permanent nature of marriage, He is God and He created marriage, so His comments on it have to be what we use to gain more clarity into what verse 24 means. Remember that marriage is a three way covenant, between two people and between God. God’s covenants are not temporary and He intended the covenant of marriage to mirror His covenants with us.

The fullest joy to be known from marriage can only be known when people are committed to marriage for a lifetime. If you bail when things get rough or if you throw in the towel when troubles come, you’ll never know this joy.

Granted, many who are divorced had no decision in the matter. I know of many women whose husbands simply decided to be unfaithful and through that unfaithfulness, destroyed their marriage. I know of men whose wives, after many years of marriage, simply walked away from them. But more often than not, when people get divorced it’s because they’ve decided it’s too tough to work through and because the culture has convinced them that divorce is the answer.

God does not give up on us and we should not give up on each other. Marriage was meant to be permanent. That’s the divine design of the Creator.

But notice with me that here in our text, this first marriage was perfect.

IV. It was Perfect

There was perfection and beauty in the first marriage which nearly defies our imagination’s ability to comprehend.

Think about it, in the Garden of Eden there were no arguments, no selfishness, no careless words or snide remarks. Adam and Eve loved each other with the kind of love God had showed them, a perfect love, a selfless love, a love which perfectly fulfilled both the one giving the love and the one receiving the love.

All their needs were met. God had provided for everything they needed, and more than they could want. Their needs were met at every level. On a physical level they had everything they needed, food to eat, the purest water to drink, and the warmth of the sun to kiss their skin. On a emotional level they had a fellowship with each other of which we often dream. They not only loved each other, they delighted in each other, desiring what was best for the other person before thinking of themselves. They enjoyed an intimacy, both emotionally and physically which has never been known since. If you want to talk about soul mates…Adam and Eve could honestly say that God made them uniquely and specifically for each other. But not only were their physical and emotional needs perfectly met, as man and woman, the first husband and wife, their spiritual needs were perfectly met. God had made them to become one flesh and not only were they in perfect fellowship with each other, they were in perfect fellowship with God. They enjoyed His fellowship, His company, when He would come to walk with them in the Garden in the cool of the day. There in the wondrous beauty of Eden’s Garden, man and woman enjoyed perfect fellowship with God, perfect fellowship with all of His creation and perfect fellowship with each other. There could be no more ideal place to be.

But then there’s chapter three, where Adam and Eve sin against God and the fellowship which they enjoyed with Him, with His creation and with each other is ruptured. Their sin against God caused them to be separated from Him. And even as they rebelled against God, all of God’s creation rebelled against them. They were cast out of the Garden, the earth would no longer willingly offer up its fruit to Adam, he would have to work by the sweat of his brow. And Eve would now experience pain as she helped Adam become fruitful and multiply. Childbirth would be difficult, dangerous and painful.

When Adam and Eve fell from their position of innocence every relationship they had changed: Their relationship with God, their relationship with creation and their relationship with each other. As the effects of sin continued to erode the souls of humanity, men lost their high view of women, no longer seeing their softer and weaker side as something to be prized, but rather as something to be exploited. Instead of being equals, over time men subjugated women to servitude. The perfect love known in Eden gave way to selfishness and sinful desires. Instead of seeing one another as covenant partners for life, men and women began to see the opposite sex as a means to an end, as someone who could meet their selfish needs. And the problems caused by this kind of attitude continue to tear families apart to this very day.

That’s why divorce is so rampant. That’s why there is domestic violence, marital infidelity and strife in marriages these days, people are alienated from each other because of their alienation from God.

Of course God had a plan to remedy that. The scripture tells us that before the foundation of the world, God had preordained that His only Son, Jesus, would suffer and die on a cruel cross to redeem the souls of men, women and children. Through His sacrifice, the penalty of sin would be paid for all who would believe and fellowship with God could be restored. But not only fellowship with God but fellowship with one another. That’s why, if a marriage is going to function like the Creator intends it to function the fellowship with God needs to be restored. Once we are in fellowship with God, and only when we are in right fellowship with God, can we truly know how to be in proper fellowship with one another.

That means if you want to enjoy the kind of marriage God intended for you to experience, you need to invite Jesus to be a part of your life and a part of your marriage.


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