I put this lesson together some years ago because I could not find any teaching that dealt with the Biblical reasons for a person to get married. There’s probably much room to expand and improve on it, but it’s a starting point for prayerful consideration of the scriptures.
1. Marriage is part of God’s plan for mankind from creation.
Marriage was a part of God’s plan for mankind from the beginning of creation, as a substantial part of the fulfillment of what it means to be either male or female: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
2. Marriage is the natural lifelong union of a man and a woman.
Marriage is part of God’s provision for the lifelong, mutual companionship and assistance of a man and a woman: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him” (female counterpart) (Genesis 2:18).
3. Marriage is the beginning of a new family.
Marriage is the inception of a new, lifelong relationship across the totality of life, and marks the separation and independence from the parents: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
4. Marriage is God’s place for sexual fulfillment.
“Drink water from your own cistern,running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets,your streams of water in the public squares?Let them be yours alone,never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed,and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer –may her breasts satisfy you always,may you ever be captivated by her love”(Proverbs 5:15-19). “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (I Corinthians 7:2). Sexual fulfillment is definitely restricted to marriage within scripture. It is unfortunate, however, that marriage has too often been treated as an answer to problems of lust and immorality among believers. The truth is that lust and sexual immorality are not the result of merely physical appetites, but of sinful human nature that encompasses mind, body, spirit and emotions. (“What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, . . . adultery . . .”– Mark 7:20-21.)
Therefore marriage is no cure for lust and immorality for someone who does not accept the Biblical teaching on sex and marriage, or a believer who is caught in a sinful sexual habit. The sad testimony of many pastors, counselors and counselees is that marriage does not change a prior sexual problem. The scriptural answer is first and foremost the sanctification of the mind, body and spirit.Even so, the Biblical standard is that sex within marriage is a good gift of God, and is to be protected with modesty and reverence: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). For a believer in Christ, therefore, all sexual expectations should be confined to a marital relationship.
5. Marriage is the ultimate destination for and expression of romantic love and interest in a person of the opposite sex.
The Bible does describe romantic love as part of marital love, and as the confirmation of God’s leading to the right choice: “Isaac . . married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her” (Genesis 24:67). God had led the chief slave of Abraham, a godly man of faith himself, to Rebekah as the one that he had for Isaac, and the fulfillment of this choice was someone he loved in a romantic sense. The Bible is actually fairly ambiguous on the matter of romantic love. It is in three passages (Jacob and Rachel, Samson and his first wife, and David and Michal) described as a motivation for marriage — though these were by no means trouble free or even godly marriages. On the other hand, the Song of Solomon is full of romantic passion. Perhaps it is best to say that romantic love in itself does not form a solid basis for a marriage, but it is a necessary part of a happy marriage, and in the will of God a very satisfying and fulfilling part of a godly marriage.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised”(Proverbs 31:30). Physical attraction and romantic interest are a normal part of the courtship process, but are not to take precedence over spiritual and moral compatibility. For both men and women, character comes before attraction.
6. Marriage is lifelong companionship for mutual enjoyment of life.
“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this . . . life that God has given you under the sun . . .” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).Too often a couple which has approached marriage too much from the aspect of romantic love and physical attraction must face social and recreational incompatibility after marriage. This is one strong justification for the modern practice of dating: a husband and wife will be spending much of their leisure time together, and this can be the foundation for learning to enjoy things together before marriage (i.e., good clean fun).
7. Marriage is the foundation for a godly family for godly children.
“Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15).
The Essential Ingredient for a Godly Marriage
“He who finds a wife finds what is good, and receives favor from the LORD”(Proverbs 18:22).
“Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,but a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14).
A godly marriage partner is the gracious gift of God for either a man or woman. In the Bible, when parents contracted marriages for their children, this is a plain acknowledgment of the limitation of parental involvement and capacity to make good marriages for their children compared to the sovereign grace of God. The Bible does seem to indicate a substantial involvement for godly parents, but they are simply the agents in the fulfillment of God’s sovereign plan.
1. A godly marriage partner has had a definite experience of salvation.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (II Corinthians 6:14-15). Each believer should then be certain of a definite commitment to Jesus Christ by the marriage partner, and know the testimony of the other’s experience of salvation.
2. A godly marriage partner has an ongoing commitment to Christ as his disciple, and an obedient walk with Christ toward spiritual maturity.
“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (I John 1:6-7). A mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ is not enough to assure that there will be spiritual and moral compatibility in a marriage! The observation of the ongoing walk with Christ of the prospective marriage partner is essential. Therefore these factors also come into consideration:
- Does the prospective partner have continuing struggles with a major moral difficulty, such as sexual immorality, drinking or drugs? Remain in contact and encourage your friend to find counseling, but do not continue dating seriously or attempt to solve the other person’s moral difficulties yourself! Godly and happy marriages are the product of mutual spiritual strengths and shared moral convictions, not a rescue or rehabilitation operation on the behalf of one partner. In addition, a prospective partner that professes Christ yet does not hold to Biblical morality may be a romantic impostor, i.e. , a person who makes a false profession of Christ in order to win the object of his or her affections.
- Does the prospective partner have contact with a Bible believing church and remain in regular fellowship with that body? Has church attendance and involvement already been a significant part of your courtship and engagement? This will then form the basis for your mutual dedication to the body of Christ after your engagement
- Does the prospective partner follow spiritual disciplines such as regular Bible reading and study, prayer, etc.? Has Bible study and prayer together already been a regular part of your courtship and engagement? This will form the basis of mutual spiritual growth and encouragement after your marriage.
- Does the prospective partner hold steady employment and work toward Biblical goals for his or her life?
- Does the prospective partner have a grasp of Biblical guidance about finances and demonstrate his trust in God as his provider by following them? Does he/she avoid debt, tithe, etc.? This will form the basis of financial stability after marriage.
All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.