What is a Christian Marriage

by

Morgan Hall

 

                       

Marriage may be given many definitions. It can be referred to as: A union of two people, being a man and a woman; A covenant or agreement for a man and a woman to come together in matrimony; An agreement between a man and a woman to come together in an intimate, permanent relationship; A covenant relationship between a man, a woman and God; Commitment and devotion to another person

Taking a slightly broader view, marriage can be defined as “an institution in which a man and a woman decide to come together in a union, joined together by mutual commitment,  recognized by God and in the eyes of the law”.

Marriage is a Union

Marriage is a union of two people: a man and a woman. God planned that marriage should be a life-long union.

"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

 

What is this union?

A marriage union means becoming a single unit, the joining together of mind and spirit, will and affections, harmony, intimacy, closeness, agreement.

Derek Prince once spoke of a rope maker who gave an illustration of a threefold cord. He said a rope that has three strands is the strongest union, and each strand touches the other. If you have four strands, they will not all be touching one another at the same time.

In this union you have the man, the woman and God. The statement that two are better than one indicates that you will achieve more in a twosome, than in a single state. The strength of the physical threefold cord in relation to the marriage union indicates that the home and the marriage will be strong where there is unity.

Amos 3:3 “can two walk together except they be agreed?” The two need to make a conscious decision to do things in harmony.

 

So long as they work together, they will achieve their goals. This does not necessarily mean that they must do everything together. They might do, as someone said to me that if he gets married, he would feel that they both have to do most things together. This will bring about great gains in their lives, in the lives of their children, in the lives of their families, and in the society. The society would also benefit morally, socially and economically. In their own lives, they will achieve more – spiritually, mentally, socially, and economically.

 

Togetherness

Harmony or oneness would happen as a couple spends much time together. The love and romance that the two experienced at the beginning might wear off, but this would only diminish in intensity, as love and romance is always required in marriage. However, to achieve a true sense of oneness, a couple needs to spend much time together. Talk and plan starting from the time you have decided to get married. Planning before marriage must not be limited to the wedding ceremony. In fact, planning for the wedding should occur after a host of other important issues have been resolved by the two partners. Often, myself and my husband catch up on basic events of the day and other relatively minor issues when we both come in from work, many times in the kitchen as dinner is prepared.

Some couples express their togetherness by holding hands in the public. One evening, as a young married couple before children came along, we went to Trocadero in London, a man saw us as we held our hands and said, “What happens in marriages is that once the children start appearing, the gap starts to get wider”.  And he used his two hands to illustrate the point to us. We all laughed, but we have tried over the years to prove him wrong, not necessarily for the fun of it, but for the health of our marriage.

Whatever method you use to express togetherness, it does give a sense of belonging, of love and unity when couples touch one another in this way.

Marriage is a covenant or agreement

Marriage is a covenant or an agreement. It is an agreement to stay together for life, an agreement to care for and love one another. It is an agreement to trust one another, respect and admire one another, and remain open and honest to one another, no matter what.

It is an agreement where the man is prepared to be fully responsible for his wife and children, and where the woman commits herself to submit totally to her husband.

Most importantly, marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman and God. This means then, that the conditions and obligations of the covenant are not towards man alone, but towards God. God has an interest in that covenant, once formed.

What does this mean for marriages? To understand this, it might be worth examining some covenants between God and man. A covenant is a set of promises binding on both sides.

 

The Covenant with Abraham

In Gen. 12:1-3, the Lord had said to Abraham to get out of his country – Haran, and go to a land that the Lord would show him. At that point, God’s promise to him was that He will make Abraham a great nation, and that He will bless him. Abraham acted on this instruction from God, and then, in Gen. 17, when Abraham was ninety-nine years old, God appeared to Abraham again, and asked him to walk with Him, and be blameless. God then went on to establish a covenant with Abraham. The ceremony sealing the covenant is described in Gen. 15, where the animal sacrifice is cut in two, and the people making a covenant would pass through the middle of the sacrifice.

In Jer. 34:18, God said: “Because you have broken the terms of our covenant, I will cut you apart just as you cut apart the calf when you walked between its halves to solemnize your vows.”

 

Consequences for Broken Covenants

Just as there are consequences for breaking God’s covenants, there are consequences for breaking God’s marriage covenants. God will not break a covenant unless man breaks it first. God so far has not broken His covenant of the rainbow which He made with Noah, saying that there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth. (Gen. 9: 11-17).

God has also never broken His covenant of the day and of the night. There will always be day and night at their times (Jer. 33:20).

But when we break God’s covenants, we displease God, and God does what He did not plan to do. An example is that of Abraham and Sarah. God had already promised that they will have a son. Through unbelief and impatience, Sarah introduced a third party to her marriage bed. Jealousy arose between the two women. The result was that the son lost his father, while the father lost his son, not to tell of the many other implications years later.

We must avoid at all costs breaking God’s covenant. Marriage is a covenant that does not just involve the man and the woman, God is also involved, and this makes it all the more important that we handle it extremely carefully. As a lady, do not seek to take a man out of his marriage. As a man, do not go after another man’s wife. All that do these are sinning before God. Once a person is married, God will not lead you to seek that person in marriage, even if you can see clearly that they are not having a great time in their marriage.

 

The Marriage Covenant is a lifelong covenant

Paul said to the Romans:

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. Romans 7: 1-3

 

A Marriage is a journey of two people.

A journey of a lifetime could be a long journey indeed.

When thinking of going on a journey, we need to make some arrangements so that the journey can be as smooth as possible. We will have to ensure that several things are put in place to ensure safety and successful arrival at our destination. It is simply not possible to go on a long journey without preparation, if we are taking the journey out of our own free will.

 

Planning

Look into the options available to you and make decisions which way you will be heading. In other words, draw the map of your marriage. There must be some goals. You need to plan ahead of your marriage. You will have to make decisions.

 

Decisions like:

What are we aiming for as a couple?

What is our dream, and how would we set to achieve them?

What do we need to build a solid home?

Do we need to live in the East or the West?

Do we live near parents or siblings?

How many children should we have?

How will we take care of our children in their early years?

Where should we worship?

How will we like to serve in our place of worship?

Or, I am serving already. How will we make our service bring more glory to God?

When there is a conflict, how do we resolve it?

 

Preparations

We need to prepare for our marriage. These are preparations to ensure that the marriage has proper, solid foundations, for example, you have decided that you will buy a house in five years’ time. How do you intend to achieve that? Or you plan to have five children. How do you achieve it? We both have dreams and aspirations. How are we going to merge them and make them work for us as a family?

How will we help one another achieve our goals? I have to commit myself to bringing out the best in my partner, in all areas of life. Whatever I can do to ensure that his life is better, I must be prepared to make a commitment to do that.