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Purpose: Great Marriages Happen! show the four biblical principles our hope for great marriages is built upon. This is part 4 of 6 of the series Restoring Hope in Marriage.
As we deal with this issue of hope, we will be confronted head on with a nagging thought, “That is great for him to say, but he obviously does not have my spouse!”
I have personally heard ‘experienced’ couples try to pass on a few helpful comments about the facts of real married life to those soon to be married. They mean well. The experienced couple never was able to obtain that beautiful married life and so cautions the young couple about the reality of an empty marriage life.
These comments are sometimes terribly critical and full of hopelessness.
The newlyweds will throw off these ‘insights’ without difficulty and enter marriage. They believe they are different (otherwise they would never plan to marry).
Unfortunately, when the couple faces certain disappointments about their new marriage, they often reluctantly accept those fearful ‘insights’ that the experienced couple had previously given them.
“Maybe they were right. Marriage is not what we hoped it would be.”
Should we feed these new couples despair or hope? Are we being honest when we give them hope? Sure. This does not mean that they will not face problems. They will face problems because each of us has a sinful nature. We need to work with them so that they can learn how to depend upon God’s grace and marvelously work through all the difficulties they face. This is why we focus on building a great marriage.
Let’s look at four biblical principles that give us hope and confidence for our marriages. There is no better place to go than the Word of God. Here the Designer of marriage reveals His view of marriage in Genesis 2:18-25.
"Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man."
A perfect person. An ideal location. Adam had everything he needed. It was from this beautiful situation that God made and shared a certain observation about the first man Adam, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God had a plan.
He was going to make a ‘helper suitable for him.’ In order to develop a deeper appreciation for what God would do, God wisely had Adam first become aware of his need by naming all the beasts. Adam became convinced that none of these animals would resolve that deep need he felt. It is at that point where God steps in and does His own special work!
He started off with a rib but then fashioned it into the woman. Adam named her Eve.
After forming her, God took time to introduce her to Adam much like a matchmaker would. God’s match, however, was designed almost from scratch. She was to be a complement to him rather than a competitor. She was his suitable helper specially designed from Adam’s rib.
So God made all the necessary factors leading up to marriage. We sometimes think of marriage simply as the binding relationship and forget about the critical elements that make marriage possible. God didn’t! God made both male and female for the purpose of being together in an intimate and long-lasting relationship.
"And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
The man was ecstatic. He realized something, which utterly delighted him, was standing beside him. ‘Woman’ was so named because she was taken from man. Women were designed specially suited to work along their husband’s side. There is a similarity between the two genders but with a significant difference despite what modern society is trying to convince us. ￼
This similarity and difference are both seen in the Hebrew and English words for man and woman. The Hebrew word for wife adds one letter to the end of the Hebrew word for man (see the chart; remember Hebrew reads from the right). This is also reflected in the English words for man and woman too. Add a ‘wo’ to man, and we get ‘woman.’ Or add a ‘fe’ to male, and we get female.
"For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."
Plurality of the sexes does not make marriage. Neither does the sexual act. The term ‘one flesh’ refers to much more than the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. The phrase ‘one flesh’ speaks of the relationship as a whole; the sexual union is only one special expression of this.
How do we know this? We can tell there is more to oneness than sexual union by how this oneness is formed and maintained. Oneness is formed by man leaving the jurisdiction of his parents and forming his own separate entity directly under God accompanied by his lifelong female companion. This special union bears fruit in children as we see in the case of Adam and Eve.
"And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."
Mysterious truths are revealed by the marriage relationship. Two people are extraordinarily but surely joined together to make one.
The glory of this new entity is the unhindered transparency of the man and woman. They were not ashamed. It is very possible that the original glory was a light that emanated from them as they reflected God’s glory.
After rebelling against God, clothes were given to both man and woman. This showed that the openness between the original couple could not be easily regained. There were now things in the way. This is not only true physically but emotionally and spiritually. The clothes were a foretaste of Christ which would cover our stain of separation and rebellion from before God. We will later look carefully at how Paul spoke about the mystery of ‘oneness.’
We should remember that all of this was pronounced and done before the fall of man.
Marriage has been and always will be a grand design for human beings on this earth. We can put away our doubts about whether or not marriage can work out.
By God’s grace it can and will if we seek His ways. A great marriage does not instantly come about, however.
Because of sin, a lot of extra hard work needs to be put into it. Marriage can always be wonderful even in its infant stages, but we need to carefully cultivate it.