I usually have the opportunity to write a short column on the first week of the month. I would like to share some of the thoughts of recent readings on the issues of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage taught to us through the Bible. There are also many books written on these topics as they are highly relevant in this age and time. It is alarming to read in our local newspapers that the divorce rate is as high as one in three or four marriages. Hence, we need to spend more time reading the Bible and relevant pastoral books and be guided accordingly.
Today, I would like to highlight what God’s Word tells us about marriage and how a man and a woman should regard their marriage.
In Genesis 2 & 3, God tells us that He Himself established, instituted and ordained marriage at the beginning of human history. And when God did this, He declared that ‘a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. Marriage is supreme in the eyes of God. No human being should take marriage lightly. Because it is God who has instituted marriage, then only He has the right to set aside a marriage. No one else can! Mark 12:25 tells us that marriage will not be dispensed with until the life to come.
Marriage is not what some religious sects have thought – as an institution designed to propagate the human race. While God has ordained and instructed that procreation must be carried on as one duty in a marriage (“Be fruitful, and multiply”), and only within marriage, procreation is not the fundamental feature of marriage.
In years past, we used to hear of couples in the West, coming together and living together and as it were, to test out their suitability of being together. It is now no longer just a western thing, it is also happening in our Singapore society. We need to understand that marriage must not be equated with sexual relations. A sexual union is not to be equated with the marriage union. Marriage is different from, bigger than, and inclusive of sexual union, but the two ARE NOT THE SAME.
If we go around and ask couples who are happily married for many years, “What is marriage?” What do you think will be the likely answer? A very likely answer will be they have found “companionship in their marriage”.
In Gen 2:18, God says “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper who will correspond to him”. Companionship, therefore, is the integral aspect of marriage. And the Bible explicitly speaks of the marriage as The Covenant of Companionship. This concept is also told to us in Malachi 2:14 where a different, but complementary, terms is used:
“The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth to whom you have been faithless, although she is your companion and your wife by covenant”. A companion, hence, is one whom you are intimately united in thoughts, goals, plans, effort (and, in the case of marriage, in bodies).
All married couples must work on their marriages. A strong, wholesome and godly marriage needs commitment and time to nurture and develop. A strong marriage is an important foundation or pillar for a healthy family unit.
May the Lord help us to honour Him in our marriages as we make continuous, conscientious efforts to strengthen the husband and wife relationship, remembering what He has purposed and intended marriages to be.
Elder Andrew Lim