When we consider the challenges facing our nation today we must place the deterioration of the home near the top of the list. Many things have contributed to the desecration of the home in our society, but sexual immorality is fundamentally the culprit. Sexual immorality is quickly redefining marriage, as is evident in the current controversy concerning gay marriages. The fact is, all fornication, whether it be adultery or homosexuality, is sinful in God s sight and will not only serve to destroy marriages and the family but will ultimately be the downfall of our nation unless God fearing people are willing stand against it. The next few articles will deal with marriage as defined by Scripture, the obligations and restrictions it imposes as well as the privileges it brings. To begin with, Paul says that one of the purposes of marriage is to prevent fornication from being committed: Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband (1 Cor. 7:2). Implicit in this passage are two facts: 1) Any sexual activity outside the marriage bond is sexual immorality ; and 2) marriage exists only between a man (husband) and a woman (wife). This ought to be enough to end any controversy, but in case it s not, read more next week.
It is common today for people to look upon marriage in a casual way. That is, many think nothing of entering into a marriage with little intention of permanency in the relationship. Many take the attitude that if they don’t like it, get bored with their spouse or find someone they like better, they ll just get a divorce and marry again and again and again. When the Pharisees tested Jesus concerning the proper cause for divorce, He said, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh ? So then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man divide (Matt. 19:4-6). Jesus quotes from Genesis chapter 2 in this passage, and in so doing makes an appeal to God s original plan for marriage. There are several things we want to observe from this passage. To begin with, God ordained marriage for all time, for all people. The institution of marriage is a Divine Covenant, that which Malachi calls a berith Elohim, a covenant of God (Mal. 2:14). It is God that joins together the husband and wife in a covenant relationship that imposes certain restrictions as well as granting certain privileges.
Marriage is a Divine Covenant relationship instituted and bound by God (Matt. 19:6). As pointed out last week, Jesus makes an appeal to the beginning as He explained that God, made them male and female (Matt. 19:4; Gen. 1:27), and, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh (Matt. 19:5; Gen. 2:29). The significance of these statements is considerable, especially given the times in which we live. Just this week same sex marriage became legal in the state of Massachusetts. God forbid this travesty becomes the norm. We must realize that regardless of what human civil law allows, God will never join two men or two women in a divine marital covenant! The fact is homosexuality has always been sinful (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26, 27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11), and no civil law can legitimize such immorality. Morality is absolute, and neither mutual consent, or validation by human law can make sin right. Man may make it legal, but that does not make it morally acceptable or in accordance with the will of God. It is within the divinely created covenant of marriage between a man and a woman that sexual activity finds its purpose, is honorable, and is right (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:21-25; Matt. 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3; Heb. 13:4), and no human law can make it otherwise.
It s important to realize that marriage is intrinsically connected to the creation of man. Genesis 1 and 2 shows that God did not just create a man and a woman, He created a husband and a wife. After God formed man from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7), He said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him (v. 18). The term help meet means literally suitable helper. In the original language the word for meet means literally, corresponding to him. The woman (wife) God created perfectly corresponds to or complements the man (husband) at every point. The term rendered helper in the Hebrew conveys the idea of someone who assists another to reach complete fulfillment. The man (husband) was incomplete. She (the wife) completes him. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5). The physical sexual union consummated in marriage actually makes one flesh of the two, the result of which is seen in the characteristics of both father and mother present in the offspring. The preciousness and holiness of the child newly born from this marital union reflects the nature of the union itself truly a gift from God. Same sex marriage destroys this divine gift.
Genesis 2:21-25 records how God took one of the ribs from the man and formed a helper comparable to him. In doing so, God not only made a woman but He made a wife for the man. And Adam 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. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (v. 23, 24). The oneness of the marital union is clear. And while Eve was certainly bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh in a way to Adam that no other wife is to her husband, the principle of this divine union remains the same. God s design of the woman as a mate for the man was exactly what the man needed. This is true anatomically and physically as well as emotionally and intellectually. God made man and woman different for a reason. In the past several decades there has been a push to make men and women the same. In an effort to give equal rights to women, a general disregard for the difference between men and women has become more and more prevalent. This disrespect for difference has impacted society in a number of ways, not the least of which is the disrespect of many for the woman s role as wife and mother. The acceptance of same sex marriage is a case in point.
Genesis 2:24 says, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. This passage reveals four guidelines for marriage between a man and a woman according to God s original plan: severance, permanence, unity and intimacy. To leave father and mother means to break the parent-child bond; to sever the tight, emotionally dependent strings that once provided security, protection, financial assistance, and physical needs. This parent-child relationship must be severed effectively. Obviously it is not severed completely, for we are always to honor our parents (Deut. 5:16; Eph. 6:2). But if the parent-child relationship is not severed effectively a new family unit cannot be established, as God would have it. This often presents a challenge for parents, for they must willingly release their child. We must understand that the most basic and significant family relationship is not the parent-child relationship, but the husband-wife relationship. God ordained this as He put a husband and wife in the garden, not a parent and child. Our society tends to reverse this order and make the parent-child relationship more significant to the detriment of the home. Before a man can cleave unto his wife, he must first leave his father and his mother.
<h2>“Leave and Cleave”</h2>
We pointed out that one family relationship must be left in order to establish a new family unit. The parent-child relationship of one family is effectively severed so that a husband-wife relationship can be established. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and the two shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5). The Greek term used by Jesus and rendered cleave or joined to in this passage means to glue, to cling and implies permanence in the relationship. Unlike the parent-child relationship, the husband-wife relationship is permanent. Both husband and wife must view their commitment to each other and the divine marital covenant joined by God as an irrevocable, permanent bond. Jesus said, Therefore what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matt. 19:6). We live in a time in which many people approach the institution of marriage in a very casual manner. They seem to think, If it doesn t work out, I ll just get a divorce and try again; God won’t mind. But God does mind. Jesus said, And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery (Matt. 19:9). Unless one s spouse has committed adultery, divorce is simply not an alternative to the faithful child of God.
Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24 when He says, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and the two shall become one flesh (Matt. 19:5). As the man and the woman become husband and wife they become one flesh. This phrase expresses the unity that should exist in the relationship. Together the husband and wife form one unit as they come together physically, intellectually and emotionally. There is a wholeness that did not exist before they entered this divine marital union. This unity, however, does not imply uniformity, for they are not the same. God made men and women different for a reason. Not only so, they come from different backgrounds having different temperaments, habits, feelings, parents, interests, etc. But this is as God intended, for the complete unit needs both masculine and feminine viewpoints. And so God makes of the two one. While God joins them spiritually as one when they enter His covenant (berith Elohim), the unity of their relationship is a process not an instant fact. It will be a lifelong project. In fact, they will spend the rest of their lives learning to live as one. The whole idea is mutual acceptance, giving, listening and direction as two individuals willingly blend into each other s lives, desiring to share with, and thereby, complete the other.
Paul writes, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it ... So men ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself (Eph. 5:25, 28). These passages vividly illustrate the way the husband ought to love his wife. The first example points to the sacrificial love that Christ had for the church; a love that prompted Him to die for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). The second example is reflective of God s teaching from the beginning concerning the union between husband and wife, even as Adam said of his wife Eve, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh (Gen. 2:23), and Jesus said, So then they are no longer two, but one flesh (Matt. 19:6). The husband is to nourish and cherish his wife just as he does his own body, for after all, they are now one flesh. How many marriages today desperately need this teaching? How many failed marriages could have been saved if the husband had put his wife first and loved her as Christ loved the church? How many homes would not have been destroyed if the husband had just realized that by hurting his wife he was hurting himself? How many men will be lost because they did not obey the command: Husbands, love your wives.
Many today do not believe in God s arrangement of headship and consider the teaching that the wife is to be in subjection to her husband outdated and politically incorrect. But the Bible is very clear, as Paul writes, Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church (Eph. 5:22, 23). Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 3:1. The wife has no option if she is to please God. It is just as wrong for a wife to not subject herself to her husband as it is for the church to not be subject to Christ. But we must understand that real submission is not suppression, and she is not to be relegated to a position of unimportance or degradation. Neither can she be forced into subjection, for submission is always freely given. Furthermore, real submission according to God s law does not remove freedom but allows it. To illustrate this point, consider the fact that although a train must submit to the track for its direction, on the track it finds true freedom, for off the track it cannot run at all. The fact is, real submission always brings exaltation, (see Phil. 2:5-11). When the husband loves his wife with the sacrificial love of Christ, the woman who submits to him will find herself exalted, for his desire is to please her and to fulfill her needs and desires.
To be sure, many today have trouble accepting what the Bible says concerning the husband/wife relationship, especially relative to the headship of the husband. But Scripture is very clear about this. Paul writes, But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor. 11:3). This is God s arrangement of headship and it cannot be altered. I know that many today do not accept this teaching and that some wives especially refuse to be in subjection to their husbands. This may well be the result of husbands who have abused their headship and treated their wives in a disrespectful and dictatorial way with out consideration for either God s will or the needs and desires of their wife. We must understand that the headship of the husband and the submission of the wife in no way implies any inferiority of the wife to her husband. It simply reflects God s arrangement of headship from the time of creation. God made woman, the wife, as a suitable helper for the man (husband) (see Gen. 2:18-24). But the wife s subjection does not imply her inferiority to her husband any more than does the subjection of God the Son (Christ) to God the Father.
The worst evil that can strike a nation is the disintegration of the home. After addressing the relationship between husband and wife, the apostle Paul writes, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. He then reiterates the fifth commandment of the Decalogue (Ex. 20:12) saying, Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth (Eph. 6:1-3). Honor is the form love assumes toward those who are placed above us by God. Honor involves love plus respect, reverence, and corresponding obedience. The honor that children are to have for their parents is a part of God s arrangement of headship. Children must be taught to honor and obey their parents, for this is right. When parents fail to teach their children this great lesson, the ramifications extend far beyond the borders of the home. Children must be taught to respect authority, and this lesson is first learned as they honor and obey their parents. If children have no respect the authority of their parents, will they respect the authority of their teachers at school, or civil authority, much less God s authority? Not likely! Herein lies the challenge of society today. Children must be taught to honor and obey their parents, for this is right!
It s not unusual for parents to see the value of their children s secular education, but often many parents don’t seem to see their need for learning the Bible to be as great. Many consider the primary responsibility of educating children in the Scriptures to fall on the church, but in reality it is the parents who owe their children a knowledge of God s word. This is emphasized in the Old Testament as Moses writes concerning God s commandments, And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deut. 6:7). In other words, every day regardless of what we are doing we need to stress to our children we are obeying God. They need to know what God requires of them. And they need to know He requires no less of us. We are all subject to His authority and His commands, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:17). The problem is, many parents have a do what I say, not what I do mentality. We must remember we are living letters, known and read of all men (2 Cor. 3:2, 3), and especially by our children. What lessons are you teaching your children?
Parents have the responsibility of teaching their children, and a part of fulfilling that responsibility is disciplining them. The word discipline means instruction and can refer to control gained by enforcing obedience or order. Please understand that I am not talking about child abuse but correction. While proper discipline may involve physical reinforcement, it should never be arbitrary, inconsistent, harsh or cruel. Paul writes, And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:40). In fact, discipline is a mark of love. Listen to the wise man, He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him properly (Prov. 13:24). There is a difference between punishment and discipline as well as chastisement and abuse. The object of discipline is to teach the child respect for authority and the fact that there are always consequences to our actions. Even God chastens His children out of love (Heb. 12:6). Now no chastening seems to be joyous for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:11). The greatest social disaster of this century is the belief that abundant love makes discipline unnecessary.
Paul writes to the Romans, For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Rom. 6:14). Many have taken the statement, you are not under law but under grace to mean that obedience to God s will is not necessary to salvation. In fact, some do not believe God s law even exists today. Law is a rule of action the purpose of which is to restrain behavior. The interesting aspect of law is that through this restraint freedom exist. This is true both personally and socially. Without civil law anarchy would prevail and all civil liberties would cease. Civil law protects our freedoms. The same is true on a personal level as we discipline ourselves. The worst kind of slavery exists when there is no restraint. This is clearly illustrated by those enslaved by substance abuse and drug addiction. It matters not whether the drug is alcohol or some illegal substance, the enslavement is the same and the only sure way to prevent or overcome the slavery is to abstain from using the drug. The purpose of law is to protect through the prohibition of that which is harmful. God s law exists today for that very purpose and we are all subject to it. Paul said he was not without law to God, but under law to Christ (1 Cor. 9:21). In the next few articles we will investigate the law of Christ.