When people need advice in any area of life, they can turn to the Bible for Godly answers. What does the Bible say about marriage? Plenty, beginning with the successes and failures of the first husband and wife, Adam and Eve.People are always interested in relationships—how to have them and how to maintain them—and it seems this is especially true in the area of marriage. What makes a marriage work? Is there some special secret, or is it a hit–and–miss proposition?God created the institution of marriage in His creation of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. And God has plenty to say about this important subject. Having a great marriage begins with how we accept, receive, and act on what is in God’s Word about this holy institution of marriage.
First, our personal relationship with God must be strong for our marriage relationship to be strong. In order to develop and maintain a godly marriage, we must develop and maintain a close relationship with God. His Word must be the final authority in our lives if we are to enjoy the success that He intends for us.
What does God say about marriage? We’ll start with one of the most famous marriages and learn a few lessons from Adam and Eve.
GENESIS 2:18,22–24 (NIV)
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him . . . .”
22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
From this passage of Scripture, we see that God originally created man with the ability and the need for relationships. First, man had a relationship with God Himself. But God said that wasn’t enough for man. Man was also designed to have a marriage relationship.
Man had an ideal environment in the Garden of Eden. His every material need was supplied. He was secure and protected. Yet in the midst of his ideal environment, Adam needed help. God created woman to dwell alongside man and be his lifelong helper, companion, partner, and counterpart.
We can learn some things about marriage if we’ll study the account of Adam and Eve and see how they related to each other as husband and wife. One area in which we can gain knowledge from Adam and Eve is the area of communication. Adam and Eve didn’t always effectively communicate with each other. Eve didn’t bother to talk to Adam before she ate the forbidden fruit. She didn’t talk to Adam and ask what he thought about Satan’s ideas and suggestions concerning God’s command.
Adam was irresponsible in that he failed to communicate to Eve when she was tempted. He didn’t tell her, “No, don’t eat of the tree. Let’s obey God.” And Adam obviously didn’t communicate much with Eve when she gave him the fruit, because he ate it too!
Open and loving communication is the key to a healthy marriage. A healthy marriage relationship is one in which you are both able to be truthful with each other without the other becoming offended. That means that in certain situations, you are able to look at yourself and say, “My spouse is right, and I am wrong.” When you get to the place where you can receive what your spouse has to say and then honestly look at yourself and admit you need to change, you’re on the way to having a great marriage relationship!
God gave us a spouse to help us make good decisions and to give us godly counsel. That’s why Adam and Eve should have communicated better with each other. If we’re to learn from their mistakes, we must learn how to effectively communicate with our spouse.
Another thing we can learn from Adam and Eve is the importance of guarding our affections and keeping them directed toward our spouse and not someone else. We can also learn how to help guard our spouse from someone else’s affections.
You must bind together with your mate to protect your union against anything that tries to come against it. Just as the serpent tempted Eve, there may be people who will try to entice you or your spouse, but if you have good, honest communication, you can talk to each other about it and handle the situation together.
Another lesson we can learn from Adam and Eve is in the area of blame–shifting. It will help our marriage greatly if when we make a mistake, we admit it and take responsibility for it.
When God asked Adam if he had eaten from the tree, Adam told God, “It’s not my fault. It’s my wife’s fault. It was the woman You gave me” (Gen. 3:12). But it was Adam’s own fault! He didn’t have to eat from that tree!
Adam blamed Eve for getting them kicked out of the Garden, and Eve may have resented Adam for blaming her. But I really believe that if they had communicated properly with one another, they would have come up with a better idea than that of eating the fruit and then shifting blame.
We are not without help in developing and maintaining a godly marriage. God created the institution of marriage, and His Word gives us ample instructions for the marriage relationship.
EPHESIANS 5:21–33 (NIV)
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—
30 for we are members of his body.
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
This passage shows the proper marriage relationship—one in which both husband and wife are submitted to God and to each other.
It’s true that the wife is to submit, or give respect, to her own husband as the Church is submitted to Christ. It is also true that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. How much does Christ love the Church? Christ loved the Church so much that He gave His life for her.
In the marriage relationship, there must be a head, or a leader. God has designated the man, the husband, to be the leader of the marriage relationship and the family. The husband is not to dominate as a dictator over the household. Submission isn’t forced—it’s voluntary. Christ never demands submission from the Church. The Church has always been allowed to make a voluntary choice whether or not to submit to Jesus. Likewise, a husband isn’t to force his wife into submission; rather, he is to lead her in such a way that submission becomes a choice she gladly makes.
Although I’ve only scratched the surface in talking about marriage, I believe these simple keys will help keep our marriage strong. We can learn from the mistakes Adam and Eve made in the areas of communication and blame–shifting. And we can follow the very specific instructions God gave us in the Bible concerning marriage. As husbands and wives work together in unity and harmony with God, marriages will be the “Heaven on earth” they were meant to be.