Have Questions, Find answers on Otakada.org - Top Questions About Marriage People are Really Asking with Biblical Answers

Have Questions, Find answers on Otakada.org – Top Questions About Marriage People are Really Asking with Biblical Answers

Have Questions, Find answers on Otakada.org - Top Questions About Marriage People are Really Asking with Biblical Answers
Have Questions, Find answers on Otakada.org – Top Questions About Marriage People are Really Asking with Biblical Answers

Questions About Marriage People are Really Asking: The TOP Most Frequently Asked Questions About Marriage

Have Questions, Find Answers on Otakada.orgAbout Marriage people are really asking – Daily, people turn to the Internet to find answers to their questions about spiritual matters. Topics related to spirituality are the second-most searched subjects online. Sadly, websites that present false teachings far outnumber those that proclaim the truth of God’s Word. We will provide answers as the Holy Spirit leads us from a biblical perspective. You will also need to pray to secure answers to any question you may have because one of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth – John 16:13. Today, we look at Questions About Marriage people are really asking and questions that relate to this with biblical answers.. Enjoy

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But before we answer questions about Marriage, hereunder is the most important question that has to do with your eternal destiny with answer for your necessary action:

Question: What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?

Answer: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? To properly understand this question, you must first understand the terms “Jesus Christ,” “personal,” and “Savior.”

Who is Jesus Christ? Many people will acknowledge Jesus Christ as a good man, a great teacher, or even a prophet of God. These things are definitely true of Jesus, but they do not fully define who He truly is. The Bible tells us that Jesus is God in the flesh, God in human form (see John 1:1, 14). God came to earth to teach us, heal us, correct us, forgive us—and die for us! Jesus Christ is God, the Creator, the sovereign Lord. Have you accepted this Jesus?

What is a Savior, and why do we need a Savior? The Bible tells us that we have all sinned; we have all committed evil acts (Romans 3:10-18). As a result of our sin, we deserve God’s anger and judgment. The only just punishment for sins committed against an infinite and eternal God is an infinite punishment (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:11-15). That is why we need a Savior!

Jesus Christ came to earth and died in our place. Jesus’ death was an infinite payment for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the price so that we would not have to. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proved that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. That is why Jesus is the one and only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)! Are you trusting in Jesus as your Savior?

Is Jesus your “personal” Savior? Many people view Christianity as attending church, performing rituals, and/or not committing certain sins. That is not Christianity. True Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Accepting Jesus as your personal Savior means placing your own personal faith and trust in Him. No one is saved by the faith of others. No one is forgiven by doing certain deeds. The only way to be saved is to personally accept Jesus as your Savior, trusting in His death as the payment for your sins and His resurrection as your guarantee of eternal life (John 3:16). Is Jesus personally your Savior?

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, say the following words to God. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. Only believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross for you can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. “God, I know that I have sinned against You and deserve punishment. But I believe Jesus Christ took the punishment I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I receive Your offer of forgiveness and place my trust in You for salvation. I accept Jesus as my personal Savior! Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness— the gift of eternal life! Amen!”

Now, Top Questions About Marriage People are Really Asking:

What does the Bible say about marriage?
Making marriage last—what is the key?
What does the Bible say about interracial marriage?
What does the Bible say about gay marriage/same sex marriage? What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?
I am divorced. Can I remarry according to the Bible?
Does a wife have to submit to her husband?
What constitutes marriage according to the Bible?
What does it mean to leave and cleave?
Will there be marriage in heaven?
What should a Christian do if he/she is married to an unbeliever? What does it mean to be one flesh in a marriage?
What is a Christian couple allowed to do in sex?
Why did God allow polygamy in the Bible?

Question: What does the Bible say about marriage?

Answer: The creation of marriage is recorded in Genesis 2:23-24: “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” God created man and then made woman to complement him. Marriage is God’s “fix” for the fact that “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

The word “helper” used to describe Eve in Genesis 2:20 means “to surround, to protect or aid, help.” Eve was created to be alongside Adam as his “other half,” to be his aid and his helper. A man and woman, when married, become “one flesh.” This oneness is manifested most fully in the physical union of sexual intimacy. The New Testament adds a warning regarding this oneness. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

There are several epistles written by the apostle Paul that refer to marriage and how believers are to operate within the marriage relationship. One such passage is 1 Corinthians chapter 7, and another is Ephesians 5:22-33. When studied together, these two passages provide biblical principles that form a framework for a God-pleasing marriage relationship.

The Ephesians passage is especially profound in reference to a successful biblical marriage. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior” (Ephesians 5:22-23). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29). “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31).

When a believing husband and wife institute God’s principles, a biblical marriage results. A biblically based marriage is one that is in balance, with Christ as the head of the man and the wife together. The biblical concept of marriage is a oneness between two individuals that pictures the oneness of Christ with His church.

Question: Making marriage last—what is the key?
Answer:
The Apostle Paul says that the wife is “bound” to her husband as long

as he lives (Romans 7:2). The principle here is that either the husband or wife has to die before the marriage bond is broken. This is God’s command, but in our modern society marriage ends in divorce over 51 percent of the time. That means that over half of the couples who make the vow “Till death do us part” break that vow.

What can the married couple do to ensure that their marriage will last? The first and most important issue is one of obedience to God and His Word. This is a principle that should be in force before the marriage. God says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3). For the born-again believer, this means not beginning a close relationship with anyone who is not also a believer. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). If this one principle were followed, it would save a lot of heartache and suffering later in marriages.

Another principle that would protect the longevity of a marriage is that the husband should obey God and love, honor, and protect his wife as he would his own body (Ephesians 5:25-31). The corresponding principle is that the wife should obey God and submit to her own husband “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). The marriage between a man and a woman is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ gave Himself for the church and He loves, honors, and protects her as His “bride” (Revelation 19:7-9).

When God brought Eve to Adam in the first marriage, she was made from his “flesh and bone” (Genesis 2:21) and they became “one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24). Becoming one flesh means more than just a physical union. It means a meeting of the mind and soul to form one unit. This relationship goes far beyond sensual or emotional attraction and into the realm of spiritual “oneness” that can only be found as both partners surrender to God and each other. This relationship is not centered on “me and my” but on “us and our.” This is one of the secrets to a lasting marriage. Making a marriage last until death is something both partners have to make a priority. Solidifying one’s vertical relationship with God goes a long way toward ensuring that the horizontal relationship between a husband and wife is a lasting, and therefore God-honoring, one.

Question: What does the Bible say about interracial marriage?

Answer: The Old Testament Law commanded the Israelites not to engage in interracial marriage (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). However, the reason for this was not primarily racial in nature. Rather, it was religious. The reason God commanded against interracial marriage was that people of other races were idolaters and worshippers of false gods. The Israelites would be led astray from God if they intermarried with idol worshippers, pagans, or heathens. A similar principle is laid out in the New Testament, but at a much different level: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Just as the Israelites (believers in the one true God) were commanded not to marry idolaters, so Christians (believers in the one true God) are commanded not to marry unbelievers. To answer this question specifically, no, the Bible does not say that interracial marriage is wrong.

As Martin Luther King noted, a person should be judged by his or her character, not by skin color. There is no place in the life of the Christian for favoritism based on race (James 2:1-10). When selecting a mate, a Christian should always first find out if the potential spouse is born again by faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:3-5). Faith in Christ, not skin color, is the biblical standard for choosing a spouse. Interracial marriage is not a matter of right or wrong, but of wisdom, discernment, and prayer.

The only reason interracial marriage should be considered carefully is the difficulties a mixed-race couple may experience because of others who have a hard time accepting them. Many interracial couples experience discrimination and ridicule, sometimes even from their own families. Some interracial couples experience difficulties when their children have skin tones of different shades from the parents and/or siblings. An interracial couple needs to take these things into consideration and be prepared for them, should they decide to marry. Again, though, the only biblical restriction placed on whom a Christian may marry is whether the other person is a member of the body of Christ.

Question: What does the Bible say about gay marriage/same sex marriage?

Answer: While the Bible does address homosexuality, it does not explicitly mention gay marriage/same-sex marriage. It is clear, however, that the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Leviticus 18:22 identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Romans 1:26-27 declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. First Corinthians 6:9 states that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since both homosexual desires and actions are condemned in the Bible, it is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful.

Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Genesis 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.

The Bible alone, however, does not have to be used to demonstrate this understanding of marriage. The biblical viewpoint of marriage has been the universal understanding of marriage in every human civilization in world history. History argues against gay marriage. Modern secular psychology recognizes that men and women are psychologically and emotionally designed to complement one another. In regard to the family, psychologists contend that a union between a man and woman in which both spouses serve as good gender role models is the best environment in which to raise well-adjusted children. Psychology argues against gay marriage. In nature/physicality, clearly, men and women were designed to “fit” together sexually. With the “natural” purpose of sexual intercourse being procreation, clearly only a sexual relationship between a man and a woman can fulfill this purpose. Nature argues against gay marriage.

So, if the Bible, history, psychology, and nature all argue for marriage being between a man and a woman—why is there such a controversy today? Why are those who are opposed to gay marriage/same-sex marriage labeled as hateful, intolerant bigots, no matter how respectfully the opposition is presented? Why is the gay rights movement so aggressively pushing for gay marriage/same-sex marriage when most people, religious and non-religious, are supportive of—or at least far less opposed to—gay couples having all the same legal rights as married couples with some form of civil union?

The answer, according to the Bible, is that everyone inherently knows that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural, and the only way to suppress this inherent knowledge is by normalizing homosexuality and attacking any and all opposition to it. The best way to normalize homosexuality is by placing gay marriage/same-sex marriage on an equal plane with traditional opposite-gender marriage. Romans 1:18-32 illustrates this. The truth is known because God has made it plain. The truth is rejected and replaced with a lie. The lie is then promoted and the truth suppressed and attacked. The vehemence and anger expressed by many in the gay rights movement to any who oppose them is, in fact, an indication that they know their position is indefensible. Trying to overcome a weak position by raising your voice is the oldest trick in the debating book. There is perhaps no more accurate description of the modern gay rights agenda than Romans 1:31, “they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

To give sanction to gay marriage/same-sex marriage would be to give approval to the homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible clearly and consistently condemns as sinful. Christians should stand firmly against the idea of gay marriage/same-sex marriage. Further, there are strong and logical arguments against gay marriage/same-sex marriage from contexts completely separated from the Bible. One does not have to be an evangelical Christian to recognize that marriage is between a man and a woman.

According to the Bible, marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6). Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we are not to condone or ignore sin. Rather, we are to share the love of God and the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). As Christians, when we make a stand for truth and the result is personal attacks, insults, and persecution, we should remember the words of Jesus: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

Question: What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?

Answer: First of all, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember Malachi 2:16: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.” According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). God realizes, though, that since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcees, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because they were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).

The controversy over whether divorce and remarriage is allowed according to the Bible revolves primarily around Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. The phrase “except for marital unfaithfulness” is the only thing in Scripture that possibly gives God’s permission for divorce and remarriage. Many interpreters understand this “exception clause” as referring to “marital unfaithfulness” during the “betrothal” period. In Jewish custom, a man and a woman were considered married even while they were still engaged or “betrothed.” According to this view, immorality during this “betrothal” period would then be the only valid reason for a divorce.

However, the Greek word translated “marital unfaithfulness” is a word which can mean any form of sexual immorality. It is can mean fornication, prostitution, adultery, etc. Jesus is possibly saying that divorce is permissible if sexual immorality is committed. Sexual relations are an integral part of the marital bond: “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). Therefore, any breaking of that bond by sexual relations outside of marriage might be a permissible reason for divorce. If so, Jesus also has remarriage in mind in this passage. The phrase “and marries another” (Matthew 19:9) indicates that divorce and remarriage are allowed in an instance of the exception clause, whatever it is interpreted to be. It is important to note that only the innocent party is allowed to remarry. Although it is not stated in the text, the allowance for remarriage after a divorce is God’s mercy for the one who was sinned against, not for the one who committed the sexual immorality. There may be instances where the “guilty party” is allowed to remarry, but it is not taught in this text.

Some understand 1 Corinthians 7:15 as another “exception,” allowing remarriage if an unbelieving spouse divorces a believer. However, the context does not mention remarriage, but only says a believer is not bound to continue a marriage if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave. Others claim that abuse (spousal or child) is a valid reason for divorce even though it is not listed as such in the Bible. While this may very well be the case, it is never wise to presume upon the Word of God.

Sometimes lost in the debate over the exception clause is the fact that whatever “marital unfaithfulness” means, it is an allowance for divorce, not a requirement for it. Even when adultery is committed, a couple can, through God’s grace, learn to forgive and begin rebuilding their marriage. God has forgiven us of so much more. Surely we can follow His example and even forgive the sin of adultery (Ephesians 4:32). However, in many instances, a spouse is unrepentant and continues in sexual immorality. That is where Matthew 19:9 can possibly be applied. Many also look to quickly remarry after a divorce when God might desire them to remain single. God sometimes calls people to be single so that their attention is not divided (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Remarriage after a divorce may be an option in some circumstances, but that does not mean it is the only option.

It is distressing that the divorce rate among professing Christians is nearly as high as that of the unbelieving world. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and that reconciliation and forgiveness should be the marks of a believer’s life (Luke 11:4; Ephesians 4:32). However, God recognizes that divorce will occur, even among His children. A divorced and/or remarried believer should not feel any less loved by God, even if the divorce and/or remarriage is not covered under the possible exception clause of Matthew 19:9. God often uses even the sinful disobedience of Christians to accomplish great good.

Question: I am divorced. Can I remarry according to the Bible?

Answer: We often receive questions like “I am divorced for such and such a reason. Can I get remarried?” “I have been divorced twice—the first for adultery by my spouse, the second for incompatibility. I am dating a man who has been divorced three times—the first for incompatibility, the second for adultery on his part, the third for adultery on his wife’s part. Can we get married to each other?” Questions like these are very difficult to answer because the Bible does not go into great detail regarding the various scenarios for remarriage after a divorce.

What we can know for sure is that it is God’s plan for a married couple to stay married as long as both spouses are alive (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6). The only specific allowance for remarriage after a divorce is for adultery (Matthew 19:9), and even this is debated among Christians. Another possibility is desertion —when an unbelieving spouse leaves a believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:12- 15). This passage, though, does not specifically address remarriage, only being bound to stay in a marriage. It would also seem that physical, sexual, or severe emotional abuse would be a sufficient cause for divorce and possibly remarriage. The Bible does not specifically teach this, however.

We know two things for sure. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and God is merciful and forgiving. Every divorce is a result of sin, either on the part of one spouse or both. Does God forgive divorce? Absolutely! Divorce is no less forgivable than any other sin. Forgiveness of all sins is available through faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7). If God forgives the sin of divorce, does that mean you are free to remarry? Not necessarily. God sometimes calls people to remain single (1 Corinthians 7:7-8). Being single should not be viewed as a curse or punishment, but as an opportunity to serve God wholeheartedly (1 Corinthians 7:32-36). God’s Word does tell us, though, that it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:9). Perhaps this sometimes applies to remarriage after a divorce.

So, can you or should you get remarried? We cannot answer that question. Ultimately, that is between you, your potential spouse, and, most importantly, God. The only advice we can give is for you to pray to God for wisdom regarding what He would have you do (James 1:5). Pray with an open mind and genuinely ask the Lord to place His desires on your heart (Psalm 37:4). Seek the Lord’s will (Proverbs 3:5-6) and follow His leading.

Question: Does a wife have to submit to her husband?

Answer: Submission is a very important issue in relation to marriage. Even before sin entered the world, there was still the principle of headship (1 Timothy 2:13). Adam was created first, and Eve was created to be a “helper” for Adam (Genesis 2:18-20). At the same time, since there was no sin, there was no authority for man to obey except God’s authority. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin entered the world, and then authority was needed. Therefore, God established the authority needed to enforce the laws of the land and also to provide us with the protection we need. First, we need to submit to God, which is the only way we can truly obey Him (James 1:21; 4:7). In 1 Corinthians 11:2- 3, we find that the husband is to submit to Christ as Christ did to God. Then the verse says that the wife should follow his example and submit to her husband.

Submission is a natural response to loving leadership. When a husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25-33), then submission is a natural response from a wife to her husband. The Greek word translated “submit,” hupotasso, is the continuing form of the verb. This means that submitting to God, the government, or a husband is not a one-time act. It is a continual attitude, which becomes a pattern of behavior. The submission talked about in Ephesians 5 is not a one-sided subjection of a believer to a selfish, domineering person. Biblical submission is designed to be between two Spirit- filled believers who are mutually yielded to each other and to God. Submission is a two-way street. Submission is a position of honor and completeness. When a wife is loved as the church is loved by Christ, submission is not difficult. Ephesians 5:24 says, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” This verse is saying that the wife is to submit to her husband in everything that is right and lawful. Therefore, the wife is under no obligation to disobey the law or God in the name of submission.

Matthew Henry wrote: “The woman was made out of Adam’s side. She was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.” Believers are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). In context, everything in Ephesians 5:19- 33 is a result of being filled with the Spirit. Spirit-filled believers are to be worshipful (5:19), thankful (5:20), and submissive (5:21). Paul then follows his line of thought on Spirit-filled living and applies it to husbands and wives in verses 22-33. A wife should submit to her husband, not because women are inferior, but because that is how God designed the marital relationship to function. Submission is not a wife’s being a “doormat” for her husband. Rather, with the help of the Holy Spirit, a wife submits to her husband, and a husband sacrificially loves his wife.

Question: What constitutes marriage according to the Bible?

Answer: This is a difficult question to answer because the Bible nowhere explicitly states at what point God considers a couple to be married. There are three common viewpoints: 1) God only considers a couple married when they are legally married. 2) A couple is married in God’s eyes when they have completed some kind of formal wedding ceremony. 3) God considers a couple to be married at the moment the marriage is consummated with sexual intercourse. Let’s look at each of the three views and see what strengths and weaknesses each has.

1. God only considers a couple married when they are legally married. The scriptural support typically given to this view is the verses that advocate submission to the government (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:17). The argument is that if the government requires certain “paperwork” to be completed before a marriage is recognized, a couple should submit themselves to whatever process the government requires. It is definitely biblical for a couple to submit to the government as long as the requirements do not contradict God’s Word and are reasonable. Romans 13:1-2 tells us, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

There are some weaknesses and potential problems with this view. First, there were marriages before any government was organized. For thousands of years, people were getting married with no such thing as a marriage license. Second, even today, there are some countries that have no governmental recognition of marriage, and/or no legal requirements for marriage. Third, there are some governments that place unbiblical requirements on a marriage before it is legally recognized. As an example, there are countries that require a wedding to be held in a Catholic church, according to Catholic teachings, and overseen by a Catholic priest. Obviously, for those who have strong disagreements with the Catholic Church and the Catholic understanding of marriage as a sacrament, it would be unbiblical to submit to being married in the Catholic Church.
2. A couple is married in God’s eyes when they have completed some kind of formal wedding ceremony. Similar to the way—in many cultures—a father gives away his daughter at the wedding, some interpreters understand God’s bringing Eve to Adam (Genesis 2:22) as God’s overseeing the first wedding “ceremony.” In John chapter 2, Jesus attended a wedding ceremony. Jesus would not have attended such an event if He did not approve of what was occurring. Jesus’ attending a wedding ceremony by no means indicates that God requires a wedding ceremony, but it most definitely does indicate that a wedding ceremony is acceptable in God’s sight. Nearly every culture in the history of humanity has had some kind of formal wedding ceremony. In every culture there is an event, action, covenant, or proclamation that is recognized as declaring a man and woman to be married.

3. God considers a couple to be married at the moment the marriage is consummated with sexual intercourse. There are some who argue that if any man and woman have sex, God considers the two of them to be married. Such a viewpoint is not biblically sound. The basis for this argument is the fact that sexual intercourse between a husband and wife is the ultimate fulfillment of the “one flesh” principle (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). In this sense, sexual intercourse is the final “seal” on a marriage covenant. However, if a couple is legally and ceremonially married, but for some reason is unable to engage in sexual intercourse, the couple is still considered married.

It is not biblical to consider a couple who have had sexual intercourse—but who have not observed any of the other aspects of a marriage covenant—to be married. Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 7:2 indicate that sex before marriage is immorality. If sexual intercourse causes a couple to become married, it could not be considered immoral, as the couple would be considered married the moment they engaged in sexual intercourse. There is absolutely no biblical basis for an unmarried couple to have sex and then declare themselves to be married, thereby declaring all future sexual relations to be moral and God-honoring.

So, what constitutes marriage in God’s eyes? It would seem that the following principles should be followed: 1) As long as the requirements are reasonable and not against the Bible, a couple should seek whatever formal governmental recognition is available. 2) A couple should follow whatever cultural and familial practices are typically employed to recognize a couple as “officially married.” 3) If possible, a couple should consummate the marriage sexually, fulfilling the physical aspect of the “one flesh” principle.

What if one or more of these principles are not fulfilled? Is such a couple still considered married in God’s eyes? Ultimately, that is between the couple and God. God knows our hearts (1 John 3:20). God knows the difference between a true marriage covenant and an attempt to justify sexual immorality.

Question: What does it mean to leave and cleave?

Answer: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 KJV). Other translations render “leave and cleave” as “leave and be united” (NIV), “leave and be joined” (NASB), and “leave and hold fast” (ESV). So, what precisely does it mean to leave your father and mother and cleave to your spouse?

As recorded in Genesis chapter 2, God created Adam first, and then Eve. God Himself brought Eve to Adam. God Himself ordained that they would be joined together in holy matrimony. He said that the two of them would become one flesh. This is a picture of marital intimacy—the act of love that is never to involve anyone else. To “cleave” means “to adhere to, stick to, or join with.” It is a unique joining of two people into one entity. It means we do not quit when things are not going right. It includes talking things out, praying things through, being patient as you trust God to work in both of your hearts, being willing to admit when you are wrong and asking forgiveness, and seeking God’s counsel regularly in His Word.

If either spouse fails to both leave and cleave, problems will result in a marriage. If spouses refuse to truly leave their parents, conflict and stress result. Leaving your parents does not mean ignoring them or not spending any time with them. Leaving your parents means recognizing that your marriage created a new family and that this new family must be a higher priority than your previous family. If spouses neglect to cleave to each other, the result is a lack of intimacy and unity. Cleaving to your spouse does not mean being with your spouse every moment or not having meaningful friendships outside of your marriage. Cleaving to your spouse means recognizing that you are joined, essentially “glued,” to your spouse. Cleaving is key in building a marriage that will endure hard times and be the beautiful relationship that God intends it to be.

The “leave and cleave” in the marriage bond is also a picture of the union God wants us to have with Him. “Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him” (Deuteronomy 13:4 KJV). It means we leave all other gods, whatever form they may take, and join to Him alone as our God. We cleave to Him as we read His Word and submit to His authority over us. Then, as we follow Him closely, we find that His instruction to leave father and mother in order to cleave to our spouse is to discover commitment and security, just as He intended. God takes His design for marriage seriously. Leaving and cleaving is God’s plan for those who marry. When we follow God’s plan, we are never disappointed.

Question: Will there be marriage in heaven?

Answer: The Bible tells us, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). This was Jesus’ answer in response to a question concerning a woman who had been married multiple times in her life —whom would she be married to in heaven (Matthew 22:23-28)? Evidently, there will be no such thing as marriage in heaven. This does not mean that a husband and wife will no longer know each other in heaven. This also does not mean that a husband and wife could not still have a close relationship in heaven. What it does seem to indicate, though, is that a husband and wife will no longer be married in heaven.

Most likely, there will be no marriage in heaven simply because there will be no need for it. When God established marriage, He did so to fill certain needs. First, He saw that Adam was in need of a companion. “The LORD God said, Tt is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18). Eve was the solution to the problem of Adam’s loneliness, as well as his need for a “helper,” someone to come alongside him as his companion and go through life by his side. In heaven, however, there will be no loneliness, nor will there be any need for helpers. We will be surrounded by multitudes of believers and angels (Revelation 7:9), and all our needs will be met, including the need for companionship.

Second, God created marriage as a means of procreation and the filling of the earth with human beings. Heaven, however, will not be populated by procreation. Those who go to heaven will get there by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; they will not be created there by means of reproduction. Therefore, there is no purpose for marriage in heaven since there is no procreation or loneliness.

Question: What should a Christian do if he/she is married to an unbeliever?

Answer: Being married to an unbeliever can be one of the most difficult challenges in a Christian’s life. Marriage is a sacred covenant that joins two people together in one flesh (Matthew 19:5). It can be very difficult for a believer and an unbeliever to live in peaceful harmony (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). If one partner becomes a Christian after the marriage, the inherent struggles of living under two different authorities quickly become apparent.

Often Christians in this situation will look for a way out of the marriage, convinced that this is the only way to truly bring honor to God. His Word, however, says the contrary. It is very important not only to be content in our situation, but also to look for ways to bring glory to Him out of our challenging circumstances (1 Corinthians 7:17). The Bible specifically addresses those who are married to unbelievers in 1 Corinthians 7:12-14: “…If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband…”

Christians married to unbelievers will need to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to profess Christ and live in the light of God’s presence (1 John 1:7). They should seek God’s transforming power to change their hearts and produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). A Christian wife is obligated to have a submissive heart, even toward her unbelieving husband (1 Peter 3:1), and she will need to remain close to God and rely on His grace to enable her to do so.

Christians are not meant to live solitary lives; they need to find support from outside sources such as the church and Bible study groups. Being married to an unbeliever does not alter the sacredness of the relationship, so it should be the priority of every Christian to pray for his or her spouse and set a good example, allowing Christ’s light to shine brightly (Philippians 2:14). May the truth found in 1 Peter 3:1—that an unbelieving spouse is “won over”—be the hope and goal of every Christian who is married to an unbeliever.

Question: What does it mean to be one flesh in a marriage?

Answer: The term “one flesh” comes from the Genesis account of the creation of Eve. Genesis 2:21-24 describes the process by which God created Eve from a rib taken from Adam’s side as he slept. Adam recognized that Eve was part of him—they were in fact “one flesh.” The term “one flesh” means that just as our bodies are one whole entity and cannot be divided into pieces and still be a whole, so God intended it to be with the marriage relationship. There are no longer two entities (two individuals), but now there is one entity (a married couple). There are a number of aspects to this new union.

As far as emotional attachments are concerned, the new unit takes precedence over all previous and future relationships (Genesis 2:24). Some marriage partners continue to place greater weight upon ties with parents than with the new partner. This is a recipe for disaster in the marriage and is a perversion of God’s original intention of “leaving and cleaving.” A similar problem can develop when a spouse begins to draw closer to a child to meet emotional needs rather than to his or her partner.
Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, financially, and in every other way, the couple is to become one. Even as one part of the body cares for the other body parts (the stomach digests food for the body, the brain directs the body for the good of the whole, the hands work for the sake of the body, etc.), so each partner in the marriage is to care for the other. Each partner is no longer to see money earned as “my” money; but rather as “our” money. Ephesians 5:22-33 and Proverbs 31:10-31 give the application of this “oneness” to the role of the husband and to the wife, respectively.

Physically, they become one flesh, and the result of that one flesh is found in the children that their union produces; these children now possess a special genetic makeup, specific to their union. Even in the sexual aspect of their relationship, a husband and wife are not to consider their bodies as their own but as belonging to their partner (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Nor are they to focus on their own pleasure but rather the giving of pleasure to their spouse.

This oneness and desire to benefit each other is not automatic, especially after mankind’s fall into sin. The man, in Genesis 2:24 (KJV), is told to “cleave” to his wife. This word has two ideas behind it. One is to be “glued” to his wife, a picture of how tight the marriage bond is to be. The other aspect is to “pursue hard after” the wife. This “pursuing hard after” is to go beyond the courtship leading to marriage, and is to continue throughout the marriage. The fleshly tendency is to “do what feels good to me” rather than to consider what will benefit the spouse. And this self-centeredness is the rut that marriages commonly fall into once the “honeymoon is over.” Instead of each spouse dwelling upon how his or her own needs are not being met, he or she is to remain focused on meeting the needs of the spouse.

As nice as it may be for two people to live together meeting each other’s needs, God has a higher calling for the marriage. Even as they were to be serving Christ with their lives before marriage (Romans 12:1-2), now they are to serve Christ together as a unit and raise their children to serve God (1 Corinthians 7:29-34; Malachi 2:15; Ephesians 6:4). Priscilla and Aquila, in Acts 18, would be good examples of this. As a couple pursues serving Christ together, the joy which the Spirit gives will fill their marriage (Galatians 5:22-23). In the Garden of Eden, there were three present (Adam, Eve, and God), and there was joy. So, if God is central in a marriage today, there also will be joy. Without God, a true and full oneness is not possible.

Question: What is a Christian couple allowed to do in sex?
Answer:
The Bible says that “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). Scripture never says what a husband and wife are or are not allowed to do sexually. Husbands and wives are instructed, “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time (1 Corinthians 7:5a). This verse perhaps lays down the principle for sexual relations in marriage. Whatever is done, it should be mutually agreed upon. No one should be encouraged or coerced to do something he or she is uncomfortable with or thinks is wrong. If a husband and wife both agree that they want to try something (e.g., oral sex, different positions, sex toys, etc.), then the Bible does not give any reason why they cannot.

There are a few things, though, that are never allowable sexually for a married couple. The practice of “swapping” or “bringing in an extra” (threesomes, foursomes, etc.) is blatant adultery (Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). Adultery is sin even if your spouse allows, approves, or even participates in it. Pornography appeals to the “lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16) and is therefore condemned by God as well. A husband and wife should never bring pornography into their sexual union. Other than these two items, there is nothing that Scripture explicitly forbids a husband and wife to do with each other as long as it is by mutual consent.

Question: Why did God allow polygamy in the Bible?

Answer: The question of polygamy is an interesting one in that most people today view polygamy as immoral while the Bible nowhere explicitly condemns it. The first instance of polygamy/bigamy in the Bible was that of Lamech in Genesis 4:19: “Lamech married two women.” Several prominent men in the Old Testament were polygamists. Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and others all had multiple wives. In 2 Samuel 12:8, God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, said that if David’s wives and concubines were not enough, He would have given David even more. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (essentially wives of a lower status), according to 1 Kings 11:3. What are we to do with these instances of polygamy in the Old Testament? There are three questions that need to be answered: 1) Why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament? 2) How does God view polygamy today? 3) Why did it change?

1. Why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament? The Bible does not specifically say why God allowed polygamy. As we speculate about God’s silence, there are a few key factors to consider. First, there have always been more women in the world than men. Current statistics show that approximately 50.5 percent of the world population are women, with men being 49.5 percent. Assuming the same percentages in ancient times, and multiplied by millions of people, there would be tens of thousands more women than men. Second, warfare in ancient times was especially brutal, with an incredibly high rate of fatality. This would have resulted in an even greater percentage of women to men. Third, due to patriarchal societies, it was nearly impossible for an unmarried woman to provide for herself. Women were often uneducated and untrained. Women relied on their fathers, brothers, and husbands for provision and protection. Unmarried women were often subjected to prostitution and slavery. The significant difference between the number of women and men would have left many, many women in an undesirable situation.

So, it seems that God may have allowed polygamy to protect and provide for the women who could not find a husband otherwise. A man would take multiple wives and serve as the provider and protector of all of them. While definitely not ideal, living in a polygamist household was far better than the alternatives: prostitution, slavery, or starvation. In addition to the protection/provision factor, polygamy enabled a much faster expansion of humanity, fulfilling God’s command to “be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth” (Genesis 9:7). Men are capable of impregnating multiple women in the same time period, causing humanity to grow much faster than if each man was only producing one child each year.
2. How does God view polygamy today? Even while allowing polygamy, the Bible presents monogamy as the plan which conforms most closely to God’s ideal for marriage. The Bible says that God’s original intention was for one man to be married to only one woman: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [not wives], and they will become one flesh [not fleshes]” (Genesis 2:24). While Genesis 2:24 is describing what marriage is, rather than how many people are involved, the consistent use of the singular should be noted. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God says that the kings were not supposed to multiply wives (or horses or gold). While this cannot be interpreted as a command that the kings must be monogamous, it can be understood as declaring that having multiple wives causes problems. This can be clearly seen in the life of Solomon (1 Kings 11:3-4).

In the New Testament, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6 give “the husband of one wife” in a list of qualifications for spiritual leadership. There is some debate as to what specifically this qualification means. The phrase could literally be translated “a one-woman man.” Whether or not this phrase is referring exclusively to polygamy, in no sense can a polygamist be considered a “one-woman man.” While these qualifications are specifically for positions of spiritual leadership, they should apply equally to all Christians. Should not all Christians be “above reproach… temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2-4)? If we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and if these standards are holy for elders and deacons, then they are holy for all.

Ephesians 5:22-33 speaks of the relationship between husbands and wives. When referring to a husband (singular), it always also refers to a wife (singular). “For the husband is the head of the wife [singular] … He who loves his wife [singular] loves himself. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [singular], and the two will become one flesh….Each one of you also must love his wife [singular] as he loves himself, and the wife [singular] must respect her husband singular

.” While a somewhat parallel passage, Colossians 3:18-19, refers to husbands and wives in the plural, it is clear that Paul is addressing all the husbands and wives among the Colossian believers, not stating that a husband might have multiple wives. In contrast, Ephesians 5:22-33 is specifically describing the marital relationship. If polygamy were allowable, the entire illustration of Christ’s relationship with His body (the church) and the husband-wife relationship falls apart.

3. Why did it change? It is not so much God’s disallowing something He previously allowed as it is God’s restoring marriage to His original plan. Even going back to Adam and Eve, polygamy was not God’s original intent. God seems to have allowed polygamy to solve a problem, but it is not the ideal. In most modern societies, there is absolutely no need for polygamy. In most cultures today, women are able to provide for and protect themselves—removing the only “positive” aspect of polygamy. Further, most modern nations outlaw polygamy. According to Romans 13:1-7, we are to obey the laws the government establishes. The only instance in which disobeying the law is permitted by Scripture is if the law contradicts God’s commands (Acts 5:29). Since God only allows for polygamy, and does not command it, a law prohibiting polygamy should be upheld.

Are there some instances in which the allowance for polygamy would still apply today? Perhaps, but it is unfathomable that there would be no other possible solution. Due to the “one flesh” aspect of marriage, the need for oneness and harmony in marriage, and the lack of any real need for polygamy, it is our firm belief that polygamy does not honor God and is not His design for marriage.

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