God versus Culture: Marital Commitment (Part One)

Christians and non-Christians have differing motivations for their actions. Fleshly men are guided by pleasure and the dictates of culture. Righteous men are led by holiness and the purity of their Christian walk. The godly man is not resistant to error; it comes far too often. Yet, they are consistently striving to walk the Christian path, staying focused on holiness.

With the nationwide escalation of divorces and cohabitating couples, marriage is at its lowest point. The ravages of doubt assail the institution leading the next generation to move further from God’s original plan. Something must be done if marriage will recover its place of respect.

The fleshly motivations for marriage are multitudinous. They generally revolve around looks and sexual compatibility. These tenuous motivations get to the heart of the failures of marriage among so many today and are recipes for ruin. Time brings a pall upon beauty and the sexual thrill can only be reproduced in new conquests. Marriage must rather be based on something concrete.

God, the author of marriage, provides a guide to rewarding marriages within Scripture. God’s plan does not remove the daily challenges of marriage. Yet, it frames marriage in a completely different light so new answers can be discovered. The answers lie in selflessness, rather than the selfishness of the fleshly man.

We first read of God’s creation of marriage in Genesis 2:18-25. God laments that Adam was alone. He promised to “make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18, NKJV). He brought all the animals before Adam in order to show him that there was nothing “comparable to him” (Genesis 2:20). God then presents Eve to Adam as a gift from a loving Father (Genesis 2:22). Therefore, besides life and the creation of the world, woman was the first gift given to man.

Marriage is described in its purest form in Genesis 2:14, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Leaving and cleaving are two very important aspects of marriage.

First, leaving does not necessarily mean that parents, friends, and a previous life are completely left behind. Yet, the new bond created in marriage takes precedence over all other human relationships.

Second, cleaving means to “cement together.” Man and wife become cemented together, becoming one flesh. When my wife is cemented to me, she becomes a part of my being. To remove her would necessitate great pain and a broken body.

Becoming one flesh is the secret of God’s marriage plan. His needs become her needs. His plans become hers. They are two separate individuals but one body. Tending to one requires a reciprocal action for the other. Paul writes, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (Ephesians 5:29).

This is further dictated by the example of Christ. We are in Christ, his Church, his Body (Ephesians 1:22,23). Likewise, we are “of His flesh and of His bones” and this bond is equated with the admonition of Genesis 2:23,24 to become one flesh.

God, therefore, hates divorce, whether spiritual or physical, because it tears apart the one flesh. Malachi 2:16 graphically says, “That he hates divorce, [f]or it covers one’s garments with violence.” Cemented together, we cannot be broken apart without great violence, the shards of which wound everyone around us. Children, friends, and family become collateral damage in the explosion. It does not have to be this way.

God’s plan takes the relationship to a higher level of intimacy than man’s selfish ways.

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