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We desire to understand marriage as taught by the Holy Scriptures, and not by our societies and cultures.  Marriage is a concept originated by God (Elohim) and applied to the very first man and woman, Adam and Eve. God said in Genesis 2:24, “So, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (person).”

Hebrew words translated betroth(ed) also appear in the Old Testament scriptures.  Our best comparison in the English language is marriage engagement.  In the Holy Scriptures, and to the Israelites, a marriage engagement was as if the persons were already married, even before the ceremony and cohabitation.  If an engaged person was to have sexual relations with someone who they were not engaged to, it was considered adultery. 

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”  (Matthew 1:19-20)

What Marriage Is Not

Therefore, marriage is the word that we use in the English language to convey the concept of an exclusive relationship, soul and flesh, between one woman with one man.  Due to many of the cultural teachings from the world today, I must address what marriage is not.

Marriage is not a piece of paper; it is a relationship.  Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Rebekah and Isaac were husband and wife even without a marriage certificate or license. The piece of paper call a Marriage Certificate testifies to a relationship that purportedly exists.  The document is for the sake of mankind, not God.  The converse is also true in that many have disassociated in their relationship even without filing divorce papers.  The existence of the relationship is the marriage.  When a marital relationship ceases to exist, it is divorced (split-up) whether the papers have been filed or not.  Marriage and divorce speak to the existence of a marital relationship, or the lack thereof.

A major component of the concept of marriage is one woman with one man.  Any combination that changes the quantity or identity of the participants does not constitute marriage.  Two participants of the same gender is not a marriage. A woman or a man having sexual relations with a minor is not marriage. A man or a woman with an animal is not marriage.  Multiple men or a woman is not marriage.  All other combinations would need to acquire different nomenclature for their identities, because marriage is taken.

 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is morally disgusting (an abomination).  And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself defiled; neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is unnatural.  Do not make yourselves defiled by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean,” (Leviticus 18:22-24)

Exodus 22:19 concisely says, “Whoever sexually lies with an animal is to be put to death.”

Fornication is a sexual encounter outside of marriage.  When married, a sexual encounter with someone other than your spouse is both fornicationand adultery. 

Genesis 2:23-24, “Then the man said, ‘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.  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” ESV

Mark 10:6-9, “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” [conjoined, marriage] “let not man separate."  

A Helper

Marriage entwines a man, the husband, and a woman, the wife.  One of the most quoted verses used to elaborate on the nature of a wife is Genesis 2:18, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man (human being, person) should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”


This verse has often been used to attest that a wife’s role is to support the husband.  That is correct only in part, and only if properly understood.  If Eve had come first, God would have said that it would not have been good for her to be alone.  There are no scriptures that declare that a wife is to have no aspirations outside of being at her husband’s beck-and-call.  Crudely put, a wife is not nothing more than a domestic for the chores, provider of offspring, and a nanny for the rug-rats (i.e. slang for children), so that the husband is free to do what he desires. 

Aside from Genesis 2:18 and 20, the Hebrew word for helper (ezer) is used in three other verses.

Psalms 33:20, “Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” 

Psalms 70:5, “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!” 

Psalms 115:9, “O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.” 

These verses do not present the helper as a lesser person, or as subservient or subjugated to anyone.

The Hebrew word ezer means one who aids.  It comes from a root word meaning to surround, to defend, to provide military aid.  If you have ever seen a godly wife or husband come to their spouse’s defense, you have seen ezer in action.  In a military sense, that is more than having someone’s back, it is putting yourself between them and danger.

Marriage To A Non-Christian

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:12-13, “I (not the Lord) say to the rest of you: If any Christian man is married to a woman who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to live with him, he should not divorce her.  If any Christian woman is married to a man who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to live with her, she should not divorce her husband.” 

Many times in an existing marriage between two unbelievers, the wife or the husband may *accept the lordship of Jesus Christ.  The new Christian who is already married to an unbeliever, should stay in the marriage, if their spouse is willing.

But, a non-married Christian is not to enter into a marriage with an unbeliever.  “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).  Yoked means to be coupled or attached, and there is no greater yoked human relationship than marriage. 

Many, many, many times non-married Christians have compromised their relationship with Christ because of lusting to have a spouse.  They deceive themselves thinking that if they married an unbeliever, they would be able to woe their new spouse into salvation.  “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 Corinthians 7:16).  This verse is often taken out of context to justify their actions 

To be in an existing marriage, and then to become a Christian, and then to hopefully influence your God-less spouse into becoming a Christian, is not the same as being a Christian already, and then rejecting the instructions of God (Bible) and disobeying the LORD Jesus Christ by entering into a marriage with someone who is of Satan (Belial), and expecting them to accept Jesus' Lordship.                                         

Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden to reject instruction from God and use their own reasoning to acquire the results they wanted.  Jesus was also tempted of Satan in the wilderness, to use reasoning, to reject the instructions of the Father, and to bypass the Father’s plan of Jesus’ death on the cross.  We are all tempted to live independent of God by using our own reasoning instead of hearing and obeying the Spirit of God.

(2 Corinthians 6:14-17)  “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?  What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,”

Some believers have deceived themselves into thinking that their disobedience will turn the unbeliever around.  Has that ever happened?  Sure, but it is as rare as hens teeth. [An American colloquialism; e.g. hens do not have teeth.]  The believer, in disobedience to the LORD, has advanced their own lusts above their obedience with God.  Their relationship with Jesus has become secondary to a relationship with an unbelieving spouse.  Their walk will greatly suffer and may totally dissolve as they fail to turn their new spouse into a servant of Christ.  Acting as a disobedient servant of Christ does not produce servants of Christ.



God does not require us to marry, but He is of the opinion that marriage is good.  Proverb 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” ESV.  Also, Proverbs 19:14b tells us that “a prudent (wise) wife if from the LORD.”

I especially like Proverbs 31:10, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”  The Hebrew word (chayil) translated excellent means strength, power, might (especially warlike), valour; {def. fr. GESENIUS}.  This envisions back to Genesis 2:18 when God created Eve as a helper (military aid) for Adam.  An excellent husband is just as valuable and hard to come by.


Throughout the New Testament, there are many characteristics given of godly Christians.  They are applicable to both wives and husbands.  For example, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5: 25).  Because it said “husbands”, and did not address the wives, does not mean that a wife is not to love her husband and is not to give herself up for him.  Remember the helper who protectively surrounds her husband" (Genesis 2:18).

Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  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.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” 

These are God’s laws.  They will not work for people of the World, nor for persons who are Christians in label only, nor for immature Christians, and not for carnal Christians, and not for disobedient Christians.

From verse 22, “Wives, submit…”  Taken out of context and separated from the Spirit, this portion of scripture has been used to subjugate women to husbands and men, and told that they are lesser than males in the eyes of God.  In 2 Corinthians 3:6 it says of God, “Who also has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28).  Christian women can be just as holy, have just as much access to Christ, and be just as mature Christians as any male, any husband.

Human beings in relationship to one another are given a rank, or position in hierarchy, by God.  A general in the army is of a higher rank than a private, but the general is not of more importance to Christ. This gives us structure.  It is sinful mankind not God that has equated someone’s rank with a person’s value, intelligence, or importance. 

A family unit consists of children (usually), a wife/mother, and a husband/father.  The children are subordinate to mom and dad, and mom is subordinate to her husband and God, and the husband is subordinate to God.  What I mean by subordinate, is under the authority of.  You must remember that this only works correctly when we, the participants, are maturing Christ-like believers, led by the Holy Spirit.

As a husband and wife both seek to hear and obey the Spirit, there is no contention.  If my wife believed something different than myself as the Lord’s directing, then she would follow my lead.  If we were incorrect, then the blame before God would be mine, not hers.  I have been blessed to have a wife who is as hungry for God’s Word and as thirsty for His Spirit as I am.  At the time we married, I had greater knowledge of the scriptures and maturity in the Spirit, though she has quickly caught up with me. 

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21).  Someone who has a higher authority must humble themselves and not demand their own way.  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:25).  In all the years that we have been married, I have never had to pull-rank on my wife.  It has also been the same when I have pastored and directed ministries.  I have always emphasized that all of us are to learn to know the voice of God clearly.

Rank and order is there if we cannot together see the same path clearly.  If the war is not being won, you fire the general, not the privates.

An Allegory

Jehovah speaking of His love for His people said, “And I will betroth you to me forever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.  I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness: and you shall know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:19-20) 

God, in both the Old and New Testaments, uses marriage as an allegory of the closest of relationships that he wants with his people.  Christians are referred to as the bride of Christ.  “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31-32

Jesus says in a parable that, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,” (Matthew 22:2).  In verses 1-14, Jesus lays out the parable to represent God the Father’s invitation for people to have a relationship with Jesus Christ his son.”

Revelation 19:7-9 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  And he said to me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.”

“And there came to me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.” (Revelation 21:9)

*[Not one person in the New Testament accepted Jesus as savior.  An individual who recognized and yielded to Jesus as their LORD received salvation as a byproduct of this new relationship.]

^[This instruction not only applies to marriage, but to other types of partnerships as well; e.g. business.]

Perspective From The Word of God - Rev. Steward Murphy

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