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Dr. Henry Waiters: The marriage institution

Henry Waiters, ThD

When God created sea life, birds of the air and beasts of the field, He created them male and female, but no female for man. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a help meet for him.” Gen 2:18

Not a helpmeet or a helpmate, but two words — a help meet — meaning fit or suitable for him. The word in the original means a front, a part opposite, a counterpart, or mate. Man’s companion or help, was to correspond to him, each suited to the other’s needs. So God acted: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He woman, and brought her unto the man.” vs 21-22

How beautiful, in its fullness of meaning, is this simple but suggestive story at which skeptics sneer. God did not make man after the order of the lower animals, but in His own image. Neither did He choose man’s companion from some other order of beings but made her from man, of the same substance.
And he took this substance, not from man’s feet that he might have an excuse to degrade, enslave or trample upon her; nor from man’s head that woman might assume authority over the man; but from man’s side, from over his heart, the seat of affections, that woman might stand side by side with him, together under God, and work out the purpose and destiny of the race — man the strong, noble, dignified; woman the weaker, sympathetic, loving.

“Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of Life.” 1 Peter 3:7
When God presented Adam his wife, 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.” vs 23
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” vs 24

When Jesus came, He recognized marriage as of God: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Matt 19:6
The marriage institution was ordained of God in Eden, before man sinned. It was ordained not only for the purpose of peopling the earth and perpetuating the race, but to promote social order and human happiness, to prevent irregular affections, and through well regulated families, to transmit truth, purity and holiness from age to age. When the divine origin of marriage is recognized, and the divine principles controlling it are obeyed, marriage is indeed a blessing. But when these are disregarded, untold evils are sure to follow. That which rightly used is of great blessing, when abused becomes the greatest curse.

God gave commands guarding the marriage relations: “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” Ex. 20:14; Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife,” Ex 20:17.
The New Testament injunction respecting marriage is “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whore mongers and adulterers God will judge.” Heb. 13:4
By many marriage is lightly regarded, even made a subject of jest; its divine origin, its great object, and its possibilities and influences for good or evil are little thought of, and hence it is often entered into with little idea of its responsibilities or sacred obligations.

The marriage relationship is frequently used in the Scriptures as a symbol of the relationship between God and His people: Rom. 7:1-4, 2 Cor. 11:2, Hosea 2:19-20, Rev. 19:7.
After Adam sinned, all his descendants inherited that sinful nature, and men introduced marriages which produced great evil: “And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose,” Gen 6:1-2. Not only was there plurality of wives, which in itself is an evil, but the “sons of God, descending from Seth, married the daughters of men,” the descendants from the idolatrous line of Cain, and thus corrupted the seed, or church of God itself. All the barriers against evil thus being broken down, the whole race was soon corrupted, violence filled the earth and the flood later followed.

God set forth restrictions respecting marriage in Israel: “Let them marry to whom they think best, only to the family of the tribe of their fathers shall they marry,” Num. 36:6. God prohibited Israel from intermarrying the heathen nations about them: “Neither shalt thou make marriage with them; thy daughters thou shalt not give unto his son nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods; so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you.” Deut 7:3-4. Intermarriage with the ungodly was the mistake made by the professed people of God before the flood, and God did not want Israel to repeat that folly.
The New Testament gives instruction regarding marriage with unbelievers: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what Communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Cor. 6:14

This instruction forbids all compromising partnerships. Marriage of believers with unbelievers had ever been a snare by which Satan has captured many earnest souls who thought they could win the unbelieving, but in most cases have themselves drifted into doubt, backsliding and loss of religion. It was one of Israel’s constant dangers, against which God warned them repeatedly. Even King Solomon fell before the influence of heathen wives: “His wives turned away his heart after other gods.” 1 Kings 11:4
No Christian can marry an unbeliever without placing himself upon the enemy’s ground. The Scriptures do not advocate separation after the union has been formed, (1 Cor. 7:2-16) but good sense should teach us that faith can best be maintained and domestic happiness best insured, where both husband wife are believers of the same faith. Ministers and parents should warn the young against improper marriages.

We are told how long marriage binds the two parties: “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth” (Rom. 7:2). Christ tells us there is only one ground for dissolving the marriage relationship: “Whosoever shall put away his wife except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.” Matt. 19:9
Civil law recognizes other reasons as justifiable causes for separation, such as extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness or similar gross offenses, but only one offense, according to Christ, warrants the complete annulment of the marriage tie.
God’s plan for peopling the earth in the beginning has not changed. After he united the first man and woman in marriage and they became husband and wife, He then ordered husband and wife to become father and mother.

Sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other is called fornication, which God forbids. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornications.” 1 Thess. 4:3. Paul says, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators.” 1 Cor 6:9. And “Even Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like, manner, giving themselves over to fornications, and going after strange flesh, are set for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 7.

Dr. Waiters can be reached at 704-636-3369.

 

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