Read Genesis 2:18-24

            Originally, God only created man. The first man, Adam, did not have a companion. God did not intend to leave Adam in this situation, but God had a point to make with Adam first. God knew it was not good for man to be alone, but man did not understand this.

            During the sixth day, God brought a representative of each kind of animal before Adam so he could name the animal. However, God had another motive in bring the animals to Adam. Adam was able to look at each animal carefully and understand that none of these animals would make a good companion for himself. I know they say that dogs are man's best friends, but a dog can't be a total companion. Once Adam realized how lonely he was, God then created a special companion just for man. The woman was formed from one of Adam's ribs, which God took while Adam slept. When Adam awoke and saw the creation, he called her "woman." The words "woman" and "female" both mean "from man." Eve was formed from a part of man.

            Verse 24 then describes the institution of marriage that endures to this day. What exactly is marriage? Webster's dictionary defines it as "The state of being married." (Well, that helps!) Fortunately, it goes on to say, "the mutual relation of husband and wife. The institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family. An intimate or close union." This tells us what men consider marriage to be, but what is God's view of marriage? We can learn a lot just from Genesis 2:24.

            First, marriage is a commitment between one man and one woman. Anything else is an abomination in God's sight. In Romans 1:21-32, Paul describes the decay of the Greek and Roman society of his day. The decay started when men refused to believe in the one true God. In their arrogance, they made up their own gods and began to worship them. As they turned from God, they became more and more corrupt. God recognized their insistence on doing evil, so he removed the restraints and let them do as they pleased. They began having sex whenever and with whomever they pleased. However, they were not content with these sins. They went even further and God let them go where they insisted on going. They began having homosexual relationships. Unfortunately, it didn't stop there. They continued to go farther and farther into sin. The society became corrupt and violent. I'm sad to say that this decay is being repeated in our own country. In the 1960's and 1970's, we had the "free sex" movement. The 1980's brought in the insistence that homosexualism is just an alternative lifestyle. In this decade, violence is becoming so common that people are beginning to see it as normal. We have metal detectors at schools. Innocent people are gunned down in drive-by-shootings. And still the decay continues.

            However, from Genesis 2:24, we can conclude that homosexual relationships are not recognized or approved by God. Man is not the companion for man. Woman was created for man. This same verse also implies that polygamy is also not what God intended for man either.

            Another purpose for marriage is to provide companionship. God said that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). In your early years, your family provides your companionship. However, there comes a time when a man must leave his parents to live his own life. Some people like the independence, but for most of us the loneliness of being on our own provides the encouragement to find a permanent companion. Life is much more enjoyable when you have someone to share your experiences. In Ecclesiastes 9:9, Solomon states that one of our portions in life is to be able to live joyfully with our wives.

            A third purpose for marriage is to provide a proper relationship where sex can take place. In Hebrews 13:4, the writer states that everyone recognizes being married as an honorable relationship. Within marriage, the bed is not defiled. The Greek word that was translated as bed is the word koitay. This word literally means sexual intercourse. It is translated as bed because that is where sexual intercourse usually takes place and most translators feel that bed is more polite. Notice that this same verse states that sex outside of marriage is condemned. The word fornicator means a person who has sex before he gets married. The word adulterer means a person who is married, but has sex with someone who is not his spouse. Sexual intercourse is respectable and holy, but only when it is done between a husband and wife.

            It is the sexual relationship that God had in mind when he said in Genesis 2:24 that the two would become one flesh. During sexual intercourse, the husband enters into his wife, joining with her, and for a moment in time becoming one with her. But there is more to it than just the physical uniting of bodies. Sex causes an emotional bonding between the two people. This is the reason fornication (having sex outside of marriage) is wrong. Take a look at I Corinthians 6:15-20. A Christian is not supposed to be binding himself physically and emotionally with a prostitute. Think of it this way. If I took two pieces of duct tape and stuck them together there would be a very strong bond between the two pieces. You would probably tear the pieces before you could separate them. However, if I took the two pieces and started sticking them to other things, such as the couch, the floor, and whatever, the glue would be so dirty that the two pieces would barely bond if I put them together. They would also be very easy to separate. When people have sex before marriage, they ruin their ability to bond because they have bonded with too many people. This lack of bonding makes it easier for them to separate after being married.

            Sex within marriage is meant to be fun. Take a look at Proverbs 5:15-19. If you are like everyone else, you are probably wondering what the first few verses have to do with sex. In biblical poetry, sex is often compared to water. We all have a strong desire for sex, just as we all have a strong desire for water that we call thirst. Sex within a marriage is compared to getting a cool drink from your own well. Sex outside of marriage is compared to taking your cup and getting a drink from the sewer gutter. Inside marriage, sex is pure and clean. Outside marriage, sex is dirty and dangerous. There are all sorts of diseases that you could get from drinking gutter water. There are all sorts of diseases that you could get from having sex outside of marriage. Instead, a husband is told to enjoy sex with his wife and be enraptured by her love.

            In fact, God takes this one step further. Sex is not only a privilege within marriage, it is also a requirement. Open your Bible and read I Corinthians 7:1-9. The affection due a wife by a husband is sexual intercourse and all the other intimate sweet nothings that accompanies it. Similarly, a wife owes her husband sex and all the romantic things that go along with it. If a husband doesn't satisfy his wife's desire for sex (and visa versa), then he leaves an opening for Satan to tempt his spouse with adultery. A husband is to be always available for his wife. A wife is to be always available for her husband. Separation should be only when both agree and even then for only a short time. It seems odd to call something that is so pleasurable an obligation. Yet, too often in marriages when a husband and wife fight, the first thing they use as a club is to refuse to have sex. This should not be so! In fact, under the Old Law, the Jews had an interesting rule for newly married couples. (See Deuteronomy 24:5.) For one year after a marriage, the husband was free from any obligation that would take him away from his wife. He could not be sent off to war. He could not be sent on a business trip. For one year, he was to concentrate on bringing his wife pleasure. This is talking about giving her sexual pleasure. I wish that rule was still in effect.

            Along with sexual intercourse, another purpose in marriage is to have a place to raise children. Children are the natural product of regular sexual intercourse (Genesis 1:28). Notice that if everyone abided by God's law, all children would be born into a family with a father and a mother. Our society is just coming to recognize that children do best when there is both a father and mother available to raise them.

            Marriage is an institution that was developed by God, not man. When a man and a woman join in matrimony the knot is tied by God (Matthew 19:6). The government may regulate the process of getting married, but never think that it is a man-made institution. It is God-made and God-defined. Since God set the plan in place as to who may marry, it follows that only God can define when a marriage ends.

            In Romans 7:1-4 we learn that a marriage lasts for as long as both the husband and wife live. If the husband or wife dies, only then may the surviving spouse marry again if he or she so chooses. The concept of divorce was not in God's original plan for man. In Matthew 19:8, Jesus said that from the beginning (from the time of creation) to the time of Moses divorce was not permitted by God. Divorce did appear in the Old Law, but it wasn't there because God thought it was a great idea. In fact, in Malachi 2:13-16, God plainly states that He hates divorces.

There is a simple reason why God opposes divorce. Whenever a divorce occurs, it means that either the husband, or the wife, or both, have committed a sin. God does not approve of any sin. Jesus explained that Moses permitted divorce solely because the people of Israel were too stubborn to accept life without divorce being permissible. God then gave laws to regulate the Israelites so that in their stubbornness they would not pile up one sin upon another.

            In Jesus' day, the Jews were of two minds concerning what constituted a permissible reason to divorce. One group thought that just about any reason would do. Another group thought that only sexual unfaithfulness was a just reason. In Matthew 19:3-10, a group of Jews went to Jesus to try and get him to take sides (and thereby divide his followers). However, Jesus took neither side. He pointed out that from the beginning a husband and wife were married for life. I'm sure the Jews were nearly dancing with glee thinking they had trapped Jesus in a statement that contradicted the Old Law. When they pointed out that Moses commanded the divorcement of one's wife, Jesus countered that it was not a commandment, but an allowance. In addition, the allowance was only made because of the people's own stubbornness. It was not given because God liked it. He then explained the allowance in detail.

            In general, a husband and wife may not divorce and marry someone else without committing the sin of adultery. This is because, to God, the husband and wife are still married. Just because the husband and wife claim to end their marriage does not mean that God is going to go along with them. If and only if the reason for the divorce is because the husband or the wife is committing sexual sin, such as adultery, then they may divorce and the non-guilty party is allowed to remarry. However, remember that just because a sexual sin had taken place, it does not mean that the husband or wife must divorce their spouse. They are permitted to do so if they insist.

            For the most part, marriages are for a lifetime. Divorce between two married Christians should be nearly unheard of, because Christians should not be committing sins such as adultery. The followers of Christ understood this. They were so shocked by Jesus' statement in Matthew 19:10 they said if marriage was that permanent, they might as well skip the whole thing. They couldn't imagine being married to one person for life! Unfortunately, too many people today have the same difficulty. They approach marriage with the idea that they can always get a divorce if things do not work out. Prenuptial agreements are a way of planning a divorce before the marriage even takes place. Some countries permit trial marriages. In one European country you can get a marriage certificate that is only good for a limited amount of time (as short as two weeks if you want)!

            Other people try to avoid God's law on the permanence of marriage by altering their wedding vows. Instead of promising to have and to hold until death parts them, they promise to remain together as long as love lasts. The only one fooled by this scheme is the couple. God has clearly stated that marriage is for a lifetime. Another popular method of avoiding the permanence of marriage is to avoid the marriage completely. Men and women are living together without a commitment to one another. They fail to realize that God calls this act of having sex without a marriage fornication; fornication is a sin!

            If you are not married, you should think very carefully about who you will marry one day. Once you are married, you will be living with that person for the rest of your life. A good choice will bring you happiness and bliss for many years. A bad choice could result in a lifetime of grief.