The Heart of Marriage
Dennis & Jill Eenigenburg
1. WHAT IS GOD’S PLAN FOR MARRIAGE?
God’s plan for marriage is introduced in Genesis 2:22-25.
After God created Eve, he brought her to Adam. Adam enthusiastically receives Eve as a gift from God. Her Hebrew name is Isha (woman) which is simply the feminization of his name Ish (man). Adam sees his own flesh and bones in her. By design God made Eve as a “helper” suitable to him. (Genesis 2:20). The word helper “Ezer” is sometimes viewed as an inferior name. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The word “Ezer” is used of God Himself, “a help in time of need.” The sense is that Eve was to be the one to help Adam obey the creator. She would be a co-worshiper, a co-parent, a companion and co-worker under God’s authority.
At this point, the author of Genesis under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit inserts a commentary. It is because of this purposeful creation of the man and woman that God also defines a special relationship for them called marriage.
God’s Plan for Marriage Includes Three Distinct Aspects
I. “LEAVE” – A MAN SHALL ESTABLISH INDEPENDENCE FROM HIS OWN PARENTS
“And man shall leave his father and mother.”
A. What it does not mean to leave father and mother?
“To leave” does not mean to dishonor one’s parents.
“To leave” does not mean to neglect your parents.
B. What it does mean to leave father and mother:
1. It means to establish financial independence from one’s parents.
2. It means to establish emotional independence from one’s parents.
3. It means to establish authoritative independence from one’s parents.
Take It to Heart
1. Do you agree with the previous examples about “leaving?”
2. How should Biblical “leaving” express itself in your culture?
3. Have you “left” your parents in the Biblical sense?
When couples fail to establish healthy independence from their parents, there are negative consequences on their marriage. A failure to leave undermines the husband’s headship in marriage and divides the loyalty of the wife. If you have failed to establish healthy separation from your parents, you can do it in the spirit of “honor” and love.
Summary: Remember, a healthy “leaving” must precede a healthy “cleaving.”
II. CLEAVE – A MAN SHALL FORM A LIFELONG BOND WITH HIS WIFE
“Cleave to his wife…”
The word for cleave is used elsewhere in the Bible to describe a tight bond. It is used for example to describe a belt tightly cinched around one’s waist.
A. “Cleaving” is described as “what therefore God formed together.” Not only is there an element of human commitment but a divine sealing of husband and wife in marital union.
B. “Let no man separate” indicates God intends marriage to be a permanent relationship.
Many in the days of Jesus view marriage as a temporary relationship. If a man was displeased with his wife for any cause he would simply say, “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you and the marriage was over. Jesus rebukes that view.
Other Scriptures that support God’s plan for permanence in marriage:
Take It to Heart
In Matthew 5 and 19, Jesus uses the “except” in regard to the permanence of marriage. In Matthew 5:32, he says, “Except for the reason of un-chastity” and in Matthew 19 He says, “except for immorality.”
1. What do you think about these exceptions?
2. Do you think they require divorce? Why?
3. Do you think they allow for divorce? Why?
4. Do you think these offenses can be forgiven and marriages continued? Why?
5. Do you believe there are other biblical grounds for divorce? What are they?
Summary: The word “cleave” indicates that God’s plan for marriage is one man and woman committed to a lifelong marital relationship.
III. ONE FLESH – THE MAN AND HIS WIFE ARE TO EXPERIENCE A ONE FLESH RELATIONSHIP THROUGH SEXUAL INTIMACY
The “one flesh” relationship is restricted to the man and woman bond in the covenant of marriage.
This exclusive sexual relationship is further demonstrated by the illicit expressions of sexual activity prohibited in Scripture.
The word for immorality PORNEIA refers to every kind of prohibited sexual relations.
1. Acts that produce illegitimate children (John 8:19, 41)
2. Acts of homosexuality (Romans 1:29)
3. Acts of incest (1 Corinthians 5:1, Leviticus 18:6-18)
4. Acts of fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
5. Acts of sexual immorality associated with pagan worship (Revelation 2:20-21)
6. Sexual intercourse with a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:15-16)
7. Bestiality is prohibited. Leviticus 18:23
8. You shall not commit adultery. Deuteronomy 5:18; Leviticus 1, Leviticus 20:10
9. You shall not look upon a woman to lust after her. Matthew 5:27-28
Summary: God’s design is for the “one flesh” relationship to be exclusive for the man and woman in a marriage relationship.
Take It to Heart
1. How important is sexual purity before marriage? Why?
2. How would you demonstrate this from Scripture?
3. How important is fidelity in marriage? Why?
4. What negative consequences are avoided by obeying these guidelines?
5. What positives are gained by obeying God’s will in our sexual lives?