God's Design for Marriage: For Better, For Worse

There are a lot of opinions in this world about the marriage relationship. However, there is no opinion more important than God’s truth on the matter. What does God have to say about marriage? It is important that the answer to this question be understood, because in the final judgment, it is He to whom every individual must give account.

The role of man and woman is briefly, but definitively, described in the first chapter of the Bible.  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:27, 28).

There are a number of things stated and implied in this passage; however, only the things which relate to multiplying and replenishing the earth – to procreate the human race – will be addressed. It is obvious from the Word of God that this is to be done by and through the institution of marriage. Until recently this fact has been generally and universally accepted. However, for generations, the devil, through his agents on the earth, has been gnawing away at the very foundation of God’s authorized plan in this regard. Recent history has seen it begin to crumble to the ground. Society and laws, to a great extent, are contributing to its downfall by yielding to the pressures. They are making allowances and provisions for its disintegration instead of taking a stand for it as God has ordained it. Many civil, and even some religious, institutions have bowed to the pressures brought against them by those who have refused divine counsel regarding marriage.

What specifically is the divine counsel of God in the marriage relationship? Jesus said, “…For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together; let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:5, 6). This statement by Jesus is the single most important fact regarding marriage, because of the divine involvement which takes place in the process of marriage.

Consider a man and a woman, neither of whom have been married before, who present themselves before the proper authority to be married. That authority can be either religious or civil, because God recognizes and sanctions the civil authority whether it is performed by someone who has the religious or civil authority to officiate at weddings. This is man’s part of it; however, God also has a part. When this man and woman present themselves before the recognized authority, neither of them having a living companion, and take the vows of marriage, they become not only legally husband and wife, which is the civil requirement, but they also become, by a divine act of God, joined in a holy and mysterious union known as “one flesh.” Man does not and cannot make the husband and wife one flesh; God does that. The Scripture says further, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). This is not a request, and it is even more than a command. It is a statement of fact. For man, it is impossible to dissolve, because it is a divine and miraculous act of God. Man cannot change this even if we want to do so. When two people are made one flesh, there is absolutely nothing – no fact, no circumstance – which dissolves the one flesh of two people so joined save death itself. Death is the only act which frees one from that divine bond.

The Apostle Paul makes this clear: “The wife is bound by the law [God’s law] as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). This spiritual principle applies to both husband and wife. Neither is free in the Lord to marry again as long as the other lives. The circumstances of their relationship do not alter the fact that they are still one flesh created by a divine act.

Consider some of the variations of that relationship. God’s answer can be found to each of them. Human reason and emotions often frustrate and confuse the divine order. A person might say, “I do not believe God would hold it against a person for divorcing their companion for being unfaithful or for infidelity to the covenant of marriage.” Apostle Paul answers that question, “What? know e not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:16). The fact that marriage is the basis of this relationship is clear, because God does not sanction illicit and promiscuous sexual relations by making the participants one flesh. Therefore, infidelity, unfaithfulness, nor promiscuity does not dissolve the one flesh relationship. When God joins a couple together there is nothing either of them can do to change that. Only death frees one from it.

There are some who say, “We were never married, because I was not serious; it was only a joke”; or “I was drunk and not responsible.” However, one must remember that, in order to be married, a person had to make an agreement to take one’s companion before some authority, which act constituted a mutual agreement. Additional, a vow or covenant to live together as husband and wife was made. That covenant was also witnessed, and the agreement was recorded by God Almighty.

God’s attitude toward such vows or covenants is recorded: “When thou lowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6). When the vows of matrimony are taken, they are recorded and sealed. Once they are said there is no rendering them invalid.

“For better, for worse” is not a phrase found in the Bible, yet it is consistent with the Bible standard of marriage. Marriage, by God’s standard, is a lifetime covenant that man cannot sever. It is one which must be honored and nurtured. Man’s tampering with it will lead to eternal consequences.

It is for this reason that marriage is a serious consideration and should not be pursued lightly. One who seeks to marriage should do so with the divine plan of God in mind.

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