I read an article by Valerie Tarico called “Captive virgins, polygamy and sex slaves. What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible“. In her article, Ms. Tarico stated she used to be a Bible believer, but apparently is not one now. Most of her writings appear to be anti-Christian. In this article, she took an overview look of stories and events in the Bible, without applying what the Scripture says about Christian marriage.
If the reader is unfamiliar with me, I have been married for forty-one years. I have been a Christian for thirty-seven years. I have spent my life watching my parents struggle in their marriage, and have sought others who seemed to have a solid marriage. For over fifty years, I have watched my father’s brother and his wife, Uncle Loy and Aunt Lois, live a God-centered life and have a model marriage. They have been married for nearly 70 years. Their marriage is decisively different from Ms. Tarico’s observations.
We live in a society that has a crumbling social structure. Our families are being destroyed through divorce, adultery, and lapse in moral standards. And sadly, this is occurring within the church, as well as in the secular world. God established the family as the foundation on how our society is to work. Through the years, we as people have left God’s teachings and have become more self-centered.
So with that said, I would like to explore the Scriptures to see what marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible.
God’s First Couple
The Book of Genesis tells us that God created the Heavens and the Earth. He created the day and the night, the oceans and the dry land. He created the animals, fish and birds. His most important creation was man, “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Gen. 2:7 ESV. God said that mankind would have dominion over this earth, which is to say to be the top of the food chain. Also, Man would have the privilege of having a personal relationship with God Almighty. God named the first man Adam.
Later in the same chapter, God determined that Adam would have a “helper fit for him”. So God took a rib from Adam’s side and formed Eve, his wife. Adam said of Eve, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” With this statement, I get the idea of great intimacy between Adam and Eve. This intimacy is to be restricted to be between husband and wife alone. Genesis 2:24 says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” What does “one flesh” mean? It refers to the sexual union, but it also refers to the emotional and spiritual unions as well. In a real Biblical marriage, a husband and wife are to cleave to one another, that is, they adhere to one another, to have unwavering loyalty to one another. They are to live their life for the other in love for their spouse and to honor God. You need to think seriously before taking a vow to love, honor, and cherish till death do us part. God’s plan calls for one man and one woman to be married for life. In Mark 10, Jesus was challenged regarding divorce. His response was insightful as to God’s plan. “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 6-9 Does this not tell us God’s intent for marriage?
Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” ESV
Marrying an unbeliever
2 Corinthians 6:14 speaks to this by saying, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” The illustration is of a team of oxen or horses joined in the same yoke, working together. But if they have different values and different thoughts, they will struggle to plow a straight row. The Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 7, “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free, Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” There is hope for the saved spouse whose husband or wife is lost. 1 Corinthians 7 is rich in wisdom concerning marriage. “12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Peter 3 says “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. While salvation is by faith, it is remarkable to know the way we respond to our lost mate can be part of God’s plan for their salvation.
How are we to love our spouse?
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV The Greek word here for Love is the word “agape”. Agape love is of and from God. It is not romantic or sexual , or even brotherly love. Agape love is self-sacrificing love. Would it be stretching the Word of God by applying these principles to my spouse in everyday actions and responses? How would our homes be transformed if we were patient and kind, or not irritable or resentful?
How can we manifest our love? Certainly by doing the things in 1 Corinthians 13, but I would like to recommend two books that will help you get to know your spouse. The first is “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary D. Chapman. This book identifies five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. You may be speaking Words of Affirmation but she hears in Receiving Gifts. The second book “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. He speaks of seeing things through blue or pink glasses. Not wrong, just different! The key is found in Ephesians 5:33, “ However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Husbands are to love his wife and wife’s are to respect her husband. You see those are two different things. Both of these books are available at Amazon.com and other outlets
Leadership within the family
Ephesians 5 can easily be abused and misunderstood. Real Biblical marriage is not promoting a dictatorial / slave relationship. But in a family, God has determined there has to be someone to be responsible for leading the family and God said that was to be the husband. I have known of some who would have stopped listening/reading at this point, but please, this is important. Both husband and wife have a difficult role to fulfill. This is not saying the wife is less important or not as smart. It is saying husbands and wives have different responsibilities.
“21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” In the paragraph structure of Ephesians 5 this verse is in a separate heading than verses 22 through 33, but I think it is linked to them regarding our attitude of husbands and wives submitting out of reverence for Christ. We do it to honor God.
Submission is not easy. For me, it is to die to what I want and give preference to someone else. The Greek word is “hupotasso”. It is not even fun to say the word.
Strong’s #5293: hupotasso (pronounced hoop-ot-as’-so) from 5259 and 5021; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey:–be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto
“22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” The Apostle Paul wrote Ephesians. In verse 22, he gave wives the motivation for submission, “as to the Lord.” She may or may not agree with something her husband has asked her to do (nothing that would harm her or cause her pain, but regarding a decision), but her trust is in the Lord. Paul then describes the husband-wife responsibility as it relates to the church
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Paul then turns his attention of the husband’s responsibility. We are to love our wife as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her. This is about taking our man responsibility for providing for her, for protecting her. We are to give her spiritual instruction. We represent God the Father in this relationship. He is always described as providing good things for his family. I can’t imagine Father God as ever saying, “I wanted a new bass boat, so you can’t have new school clothes.” Not that He needs a new boat. God is not selfish. He sacrificed His only begotten Son for our sins.
Proverbs 21:9 “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” ESV
Is divorce an option?
I don’t think anyone wins in a divorce! All parties are hurt and scarred by this emotionally devastating event.
If a husband or wife becomes a Christian after they were married and the other spouse objects to it. It appears according to 1 Corinthians 7, the divorce would be allowed. In Matthew 5,it is permitted for sexual immorality, “31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” In Matthew 19, the Pharisees tried to test Jesus with this statement: “3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Moses permitted the certificate of divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. Jesus emphasized that was not God’s intent from the beginning.
When your spouse dies
Romans 7 and 1 Corinthians 7 states a wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is free to be married to who she wishes, only in the Lord. You are allowed to marry another believer or you may stay unmarried. Paul said “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Real Biblical marriage, as described by scripture is not captive virgins, polygamy and sex slaves. It is about dying to self, about loving as God loves, about being true and faithful; it’s about giving our all. These things are the same as the way Christ loves us.
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Hebrews 13:4 ESV
What are your thoughts?