What is Marriage?


February 2004

Dear Ministry Partner,

What is a marriage? Can two men or two women marry? How does God define marriage? And what are the keys to success in a Godly marriage?

The first issue that is important is who invented marriage. Marriage was God's idea. As it has been said, in the beginning God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female.... Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth...." (Gen 1:27-28). The only way to be fruitful and fill the earth for the last 6,000 years is for a man and woman to marry. Homosexuals might have the chance for "test tube" babies through science in a few highly developed nations, but this is not God's idea of the right way for people to have children. This can actually be "adultery by instrumentation". God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." (Gen 2:18). That helper was a woman. "Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.... Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Gen 2:22-24).

Marriage was the first institution God created — even before the church. Marriage is a covenant which is between a man and a woman, designed to exist until death of one of the two. God wanted permanence and stability in a monogamous husband-wife relationship. God wanted the parents to both be there for the children as they grew up, and not have one of them bolting for a new partner just because a few signs of aging showed up. As contrasted to God's idea, man's idea is "living together" — until something "better" comes along. God's idea of marriage will be better for the family, society, and Christianity. It is parents who tend to sacrifice, work, give, save, build, plant, and keep society functioning in a stable way so their children and grandchildren will have a better life. Swinging singles (and those just living together) tend to "rape the land" — getting their own selfish appetites satisfied, and not caring what the next generation finds left behind. And single people (and homosexual couples) have no biological children as a purpose to live for, and therefore are statistically more likely to commit crimes. They also have no one to care for them in old age, increasing the burden on society. God can provide for those He has called to stay single, but in general marriage is God's will for many different reasons.

Marriage should not be viewed as a tax shelter, a financial break on health insurance, or even a socially acceptable appearance of relationship legitimacy — it is a God-ordained covenant relationship. If the traditional marriage is not kept intact and the covenant is not stressed, we will end up with two heterosexual college fraternity brothers getting "married" on paper because one has a job which offers health insurance to the "spouse". Then they will "divorce" when they graduate or the second guy gets a job that also offers health insurance. The net effect will be that marriage is cheapened, and divorces will greatly increase. When marriage is cheapened, faithfulness is less important and adultery will be more common with the neighbor, the boss, or the secretary.

Everything about God's institution of marriage spells covenant. A covenant is always initiated with the shedding of blood. That is the only purpose of the female hymen tissue — it was designed to break and shed blood when the first act of marriage occurred. Covenants were always enacted with a meal (the rehearsal dinner and the cake/reception following the wedding), special garments (the wedding dress), permanent visible symbols of remembrance and memorial of the covenant (the wedding rings), the pronouncing of blessings — and curses on those who break the covenant (the minister's blessing on the union along with his admonition to those present), the exchanging of gifts (the wedding shower and presents to the new couple), and a new name (the reason the bride takes the groom's last name).

To tamper with or break God's design for marriage is 1) blasphemy, 2) the destruction of family and society, and 3) an invitation for God's judgement and wrath on the people group who have desecrated God's sacred institution. Once the design and definition of marriage is broken, there is nothing sacred. If the invitation to marriage is open to homosexuals, then there is also no valid logic or legal argument to prevent polygamy, adultery, marrying children, sex with children, sex with animals, sex with the dead, or even marrying the dead (that is legal in France). If you scoff at that notion, I have in my possession an Associated Press news article dated February, 2004, about a 35 year old woman who married a deceased boyfriend who had died more than a year before. Fortunately, the deceased was not brought to the ceremony — but it was still a legal wedding. What kind of distortion and perversion could be next? Only God knows! We don't want our entire society to look like an episode of the Jerry Springer Show.

That brings us to what makes a successful marriage. Well, obviously commitment to the permanency of marriage is key number one. We hear a 50% divorce rate quoted regularly. Most marriages that break up do so in the first few years, then the 10 and 20 year points have spikes in divorces because people re-evaluate if they are getting what they want. But marriage is not about getting what you want, it is a total, lifetime commitment to an imperfect person. Of course we won't get everything we want — our "wanter" is bigger than what any human being can fill. (Only God can truly satisfy any person.)

After commitment, the number two key is communication. This is an area that can be taught — people do not have to have poor communication skills. They can develop the abilities and techniques — and get past the fears of opening up — and build the relationship and intimacy which is supposed to be a part of marriage. I have a teaching tape on communication in marriage that gives very practical tips and ways to have successful, peaceful relating.

This brings us to the sexual relationship in marriage. Intimacy is supposed to be a fairly regular part of marriage, but Americans are bombarded with sexual stimulation. It is like an enemy has put a drug in the public water supply. And the great deception is sex outside of the design by God does not satisfy, it only frustrates and destroys. It is like a person stranded on the ocean who gives in to the temptation to drink sea water — it is way too salty and will only create greater thirst while it kills the drinker. I have a teaching tape in my marriage series which outlines the essentials to a truly satisfying physical relationship.

The reason most often quoted for divorce is financial problems. But people can be happily married with no money at all. I can prove it, because when Judi and I married, I only had $50 to my name! We were getting involved in ministry and so broke — that our first Christmas we could not afford a tree, so I bought some branches that had been trimmed off, tied them together to look like a tree, and stuck them in an old mayonnaise jar with some water in it, and we decorated it, and made a star from aluminum foil. We called it our Christmas bush! I know an uneducated couple who were living in their car, working odd jobs, but coming to church faithfully without complaint. And they loved each other greatly. The main problem in America is not too little money, but too much "wanter" again — the Bible calls it lust, Americans call it materialism. There is a true story from Crown Financial about an American corporation that decided to build a factory in South America for the cheap labor. The natives came to the factory for training and worked diligently until they got paid. Then they did not come back! They had just received more money than they previously earned in perhaps a year, so they were content. After many days of the factory sitting idle, the American executives came up with an idea to lure the natives back to work. They went to them and gave them American mail-order catalogs! This created a desire for "things" and the natives came back to work — and never disappeared again. Materialism had become their master, and they became the slaves. But let me say I am not against prosperity, and I have a tremendous teaching tape in my marriage series on keys to financial increase and insights for good financial management.

Problems caused by children rank fairly high in marital problems, but again the "Instruction Manual for Life" contains many scriptures to show us how to deal wisely and successfully in this area. Raising children is not easy, but it is easier — and the outcome is more successful — if you have the Maker's insights. I not only have a concise teaching tape in the marriage series on this topic, but also a five tape series focusing on younger children.

In this short space, I cannot cover all the revelations from God's Word for successful, satisfying marriage, and dealing with divorce which is so common in America. But let me highly recommend the twelve tape teaching series God gave me covering every major area of married life. It is a small investment which brings a huge return in happiness, peace, and blessings in this life and eternity.

Raising the Marriage Standard,

Dale & Judi Leander


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