To Marry In The Lord
Marriage is a union between a
man and a woman, a source of begetting off-springs. If the bond of marriage is
terminated in the world then the order of man’s life will be destroyed. Other than
the people who live in the heavenly kingdom do not get married, marriage
remains a top priority to be solved by man.
The Institution of
When God had created
everything on the earth, including the first man. Adam, He allowed Adam to have
dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over
everything that moves upon the earth. Later, God saw that it was not good for
Adam to be alone. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should he
alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” So God caused a deep sleep to fall
upon Adam and took a rib bone from him and made a woman called Eve. God brought
Eve before Adam. Adam was delighted and said, “This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh ... Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and
cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:18-24). This records the
first and foremost marriage of mankind. By studying it carefully we can find the
The marriage was instituted by God
It was out of God’s mercy and
not out of the request made by Adam.
The system of monogamy:
God did not create two women
or two men (Mal ).
The relationship between husband and wife is
They are of one body and two
Marriage between husband and wife for purposes
of helping each other:
God made Eve so that Adam
will have a helper to administrate the earth.
Unless one is endowed with the special gift it
is not good to remain single (Mt ;
1 Cor 7:7). One should lawfully be married.
Husband and wife should love each other:
As told in the Bible, “bone
of my bones, flesh of my flesh”.
The woman was made for the man and not the man
for the woman:
Generally, a woman is weaker
than a man and so as a man, he should show love and concern for the woman who
Parents’ Responsibility Towards Their Children’s Marriage
Since the first marriage was
instituted by God, that is after God had created Eve, He brought Eve before Adam
indicating that our heavenly Father has concern for His children. As parents,
we should be concerned over our children’s marriage. But as children they
should emulate Adam and Eve when they were in the Garden of Eden, to obey the
heavenly Father as obedient children, and not to go for free courtship. For
when Eve was created God did not encourage Adam to go and woo Eve nor did Eve
go to Adam by showing him her love. But it was God Himself who had brought Eve
before Adam and so the two were married (Gen ).
Apart from the marriage of
Adam and Eve mentioned in the Bible, there are two other marriages which were
also being mentioned vividly. First, the marriage of Isaac and then the
marriage of Jacob; each representing its own type which is extracted as follows
for our reference.
1) The marriage of Isaac
“Now Abraham was old, well
advanced in years: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham
said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he
had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the
God of heaven and of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the
daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, hut will go to my country and
to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” After the old servant had
sworn to his master, he went to the city of Nahor, praying in
his heart by asking God to accomplish the great errand that his master had
entrusted him to do. He prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, grant me
success today ...” In the end God accepted the faith of Abraham, granted the
request of the old servant by allowing him to meet Rebecca. Rebecca’s father, Bethuel, had consented the
proposal but would not decide for himself and so he had to seek the opinion of
his daughter, Rebecca, saying, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will
go.” Then the old servant took Rebecca to Abraham’s house. Isaac obeyed the
will of God and submitted to his father. He brought Rebecca into the tent of
his mother arid married her.
From the above marriage, we
may derive the following teachings:
a) The parents of Isaac wanted their son to marry within their
kindred. “My kindred” denotes the house of God or the church.
b) The old servant (Gen 24:4) denotes the ministers of the church.
They are entrusted by God to see that the believers married within the Lord.
c) The old servant had carried out the duty faithfully by first
seeking the will of the Lord (Gen 24:12) and not his own will. Then he took a
long journey in order to get to the country where the kindred of Abraham are
(Gen 24: 10) without murmuring a word.
d) Bethuel, as a father, did not force the
issue through but was kind enough to seek the opinion of his daughter if she
was willing to go with the man (58).
e) Abraham sent his old servant to seek a wife for his son with only
one condition, that is, that the girl must come from his country and his
kindred. As for Bethuel, he wanted God to fulfill His
will and so he did not say yes or no (50).
f) Concerning the beauty of Rebecca and the wealth of Isaac, all
these were God given. Neither of them had actually asked for it.
g) Despite Rebecca having only seen Isaac once and after which they
were supposedly engaged, yet she did not reveal her emotion as a fiancée but
instead took the veil and covered herself (65).
2) The marriage of Jacob
Rebecca gave birth to two
sons. Esau and Jacob. Esau despised the status of his birth-right,
even so he had also despised the will of the Lord. When Esau was forty years old,
he took to wife Judith, the daughter of Beeri, the Hittite,
and Basemath, the daughter of Elon,
the Hittite and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebecca. And so when
Rebecca saw that the belief of her two daughters-in-law was different she said
sadly to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob
marries one of the Hittite women such as these, one of the women of the land,
what good will my life be to me?” (Gen 27:46). Isaac,
too, was worried that Jacob might also marry a Hittite woman and so he sent for
Jacob and charged him not to marry a Hittite saying. “You shall not marry one
of the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-Aram to
the house of Bethuel, your mother’s lather arid take
as wife from there one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother” (Gen
28:1-2). Later, when Esau learned that his father, Isaac, was not pleased of
him marrying a gentile woman, he went to Ishmael and took to wife, besides the
wives he had, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael. To
Esau, Mahalath was the kindred of his father, but
actually she was the offspring of the gentile. Similarly, today, there are
members of the church who marry members of other churches by thinking that they
are also children of God, when in fact they are not. They are but children of
the flesh and not children of promise (Rom 9:7,8). As
members of the True Church, we should take note of this. Although Isaac was not
responsible for Jacob’s marriage because the latter had to escape from Esau’s
revenge, but before he escaped to Laban’s house, Isaac did not spare the chance
to exhort him not to marry a gentile woman.
Jacob’s marriage we can derive at the following teachings:
a) Jacob stayed in his uncle’s house as a refugee. He had entrusted
his marriage to God. He did not ask for the hands of Laban’s daughter before
Laban made a deal with Jacob (29:15-18).
b) The good thing about Laban was that he did not measure Jacob based
on his position and wealth. It was possible that Jacob did not have much money
when he escaped to Laban’s house.
c) The bad thing about Laban was that he had lied to Jacob by first
marrying his daughter Leah to Jacob on account of practising
their tradition. As a result, Jacob did not show affection to Leah throughout
their entire marriage life (29:30-32).
d) Jacob by obeying his father’s instructions left him no choice but
to marry his uncle’s daughter. Even though he was deceived by his uncle, Laban,
in marrying Leah whom he had no love for on account that Leah’s eyes were weak
he had not forgotten the beauty of Rachel. Jacob had deep affection for Rachel
because she was beautiful but little realizing that she was a barren woman
e) By right, Jacob should love Leah after marrying her and he should
give up the idea of marrying Rachel so as to avoid the quarrel between Leah and
Rachel later on (30:15).
We can see from the above
that the parents of both Isaac and Jacob had played an important role in their
marriage, and more importantly, the old servant (the church) who had done his
best. Therefore, as parents, we should be concerned over our children’s
marriage and to learn the good example of Abraham. As children, Isaac’s
marriage is worthy of our emulation. Whereas the marriage of Samson during the
period of Judges may well serve as admonition to young Christians today. Samson
had no regard for his parents’ advice by taking a Philistine woman to be his
wife (Judg 14:1-3). When he came back from the war to
his disappointment he found that his wife had gone to another man. Then Samson
took a harlot, Delilah, to be his wife and eventually his two eyes were gouged
out and he perished together with the Philistines (Judg
Choose A Partner
As husband and wife are to
live together, to be life partners and to go on a pilgrimage to heaven, it is
vital that they should be careful in choosing a life partner. However, it is
difficult to fix a standard or a marriage pattern for every
one to follow, since each one has his or her own
view points. But generally there is a common requirement for two, both the
brother and the sister, to follow, ie, they must
marry within the Lord. It goes beyond doubt that influence brought about by a
wife to a husband and vice versa can be very great. For example, the eternal
condemnation Adam received by taking the forbidden fruit, the destruction of
Esau by marrying gentile women, the destruction of Solomon by marrying
Pharaoh’s daughter and other gentile women and Samson, the Nazirite,
once consecrated to the Lord, was killed by marrying a Philistine woman. This
also happens in our present church community. There are brothers as well as
sisters who had suffered untold miseries on account of their marrying to the
unbelievers. Perhaps some one may say that Paul ever
spoke to the church in Corinth.
“To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an
unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If
any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her,
she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through
his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband…” (1 Cor -14). Here, Paul was clearly
instructing those believers who were already married to the unbelieving spouses
to influence them to believe the Lord lest they should break up their families.
It is in no way that Paul was indicating that he gives the consent to marry the
gentiles. Paul even advocated that a widow should marry only in the Lord (I Cor
), what more of the
one may be so naive to say that we marry the non-believers out of common
interest and mutual consent. In future, we can move our spouse to believe in
the Lord. This is too great a risk to gamble with. Who knows, you yourself may
be influenced by your spouses’ unbelief? Besides, the Bible says, “Do not be mismated with unbelievers (2 Cor ). This is the greatest difference between
the spiritual and the unspiritual. With regard to conversion through marriage,
the one media of evangelism our church does not advocate is due to the fact
that risk bearing is too great. Surely, the Lord has many other ways open to us
in preaching the gospel. Before the Israelites took possession of the promised land. God told them to clear the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Ammonites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; altogether seven nations. The Israelites were
also told not to make marriage with them (Deut 7: 1-7). But afterwards, the
Israelites had forgotten the words of God. In the period of Judges, Samson had
violated the ordinance of God by marrying the gentile women. During the period
of the Kings, Solomon loved and married many foreign women: they were the
daughter of Pharaoh, the Moabites, the Ammorites, the
Edomites, the Sidonians and the Hittites (1 Kgs 11:1-8). The foreign women led King Solomon into apostasy.
God’s wrath was kindled against Solomon and so his kingdom was torn down and
his people suffered untold miseries for many generations. Until the Persian
king, King Cyrus came into power, when Ezra. Neheniiah
and Zerubabel revived the Israeli nation. Nehemiah
admonished the people, saying, “Did not Solomon, king of Israel, sin on
account of such women?” (Neh 13:27). Nehemiah contended with them and cursed
them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair and made them swear in the
name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take
their daughters for your sons or for yourselves (Neh ). Nehemiah also chased out the Horonite, the son-in-law of Sanballat,
and threw all the household furniture of Tohiah out
of the chamber, than only the Israeli nation was thoroughly revived. From the
above we can understand that by marrying the gentile not only we ourselves will
suffer losses but can also bring hardship to the church.
When considering the choice
of a wife in the Lord, Lemuel, King of Massa has the
following to say,
“A good wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchants,
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and tasks for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she
plants a vineyard.
She girds her loins with strength
and makes her aims strong.
She perceives that her merchandise
Her lamp does not go out at night
She opens her mouth with wisdom
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and called her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord
is to be praised.” (Prov 31:10-30)
From the above passage of the
Bible we are told that a virtuous woman has the following qualities
She is God fearing
She is not vain
She has wisdom and is gracious
She is cheerful and lovable
She can do the house chore very well
She is generous to the poor and the needy
She is entrusted by her husband so that he lacks
She clothes herself with strength and dignity
She receives praises from her husband and her
She rises early in the morning and is diligent
in her work
Indeed, a virtuous woman is
far more precious than jewels. So in choosing a wife one should not he attracted
by her beauty, knowledge, status, dowries, etc. Since no one is perfect, it is
not easy to find a worthy woman. However, if we were to rely on God, we shall
be able to achieve our objective as everything is determined by God, including
marriage which is joined together by Him. Please read this verse, “House and
wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov ).
Now we turn to the question
of a sister who wants to marry in the Lord. Generally, it is more difficult for
a sister, to find a life partner in the church, for her scope of activity in
the church is rather small, especially those who are shy to mix around.
Therefore, the church and the parents should pay more attention to such
sisters. With regard to the conditions of choosing a husband, generally, people
of the world would look for the wealthy and the educated. Of course, it is
nothing wrong for a girl to look for such a candidate. After all, who does not
want to live a good life? But a spiritually enriched life is far more important
than many splendors of physical life. This is particularly true to one who is
religious and who wants to live a triumphant religious life.
As a sister in Christ, when
choosing a life partner, she should set her mind base on the teachings of the
Bible. She must see to it that the brethren she
chooses to marry is Faithful. Then she must see if he is compassionate. Will he
give a ready hand to help others whom he does not know.
If he is compassionate, even though he may not be able to provide her with a
luxurious living, yet the care, attention, and consolation given to her are far
better than material comfort. Rebecca married Isaac not for wealth but because
Isaac was from her own tribe and also by obeying the will of God. So as long as
we can be firm in our faith and in everything rely on God, God will surely
fulfill His beautiful will.
From Engagement To Marriage
It is a customary practice
for a couple to get themselves engaged before proceeding to solemnize their
marriage. There are similar recordings in the Bible, “... when his mother Mary
had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together ...” (Mt ). Paul wrote in his second
epistle to the Corinthians also said, “... for 1 betrothed you to Christ to
present you as a pure bride to her one husband” (2 Cor 11:2). Again, in the
case of Abraham who had sent his old servant to the house of Bethuel. After the old servant had explained himself, with
the consent of Bethuel, he brought forth jewelry of
silver and gold and ointment and also costly ornaments to Rebecca’s household
as token of engagement between Rebecca and Isaac. Later, Isaac brought Rebecca
into his mother’s tent and married her.
Normally, there is a passage
of time set aside for preparation after engagement. It can be anything from six
months to three years. In the case of Jacob and Rachel they had waited for 14
years. But it was unscrupulous on the part of Laban. It would be ideal to marry
within 18 months after engagement. After the engagement both parties must keep
their promise. Unless one of the parties is proven to have committed grave
crimes they should not nullify the engagement. In order to avoid the arousing
of passion it is advisable to keep a distance between the betrothed. In this
regard, Paul has this to say, “It is well for a man not to touch a woman” (1
Cor 7: 1).
Concerning the Unmarried
If one wishes to remain
unmarried, Paul has this to say, “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each
has special gift from God, one of one kind, and one of another. To the
unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I
do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is
better to marry than to be aflame with passions” (1 Cor 7:7-9). In the same
chapter, Paul said again, “Now concerning the unmarried, I have no command of
the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.
I think that in view of the present distress it is well for a person to remain
as he is ... If any one thinks that he is not
behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has
to he, let him do as he wishes: let them marry ... it
is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no
necessity but having desire under control, and has determined this in his
heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So that he who marries
his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better” (1
From the above passage of the
Bible, we can understand that to remain single is a gift from God. Not every one can do it. To those who have the gift of God to
remain single so that the can devote their full attention to serving God, of
course, it is good but to those who do not have such a gift, and in order to
avoid immorality, Paul advocated that each man should have his own wife and
each woman her own husband and to those who cannot exercise self—control, they
should marry lest they be aflamed with passion.
Therefore, we should accomplish the will of God according to the gifts given to
The Relationship And Obligation Between A Married Couple
There are people who say that
the relationship between a husband and a wife has changed with the passage of
time. For example, in ancient times, man enjoyed greater honour
than woman. In today’s context, women rank equal with men. But is this really
true? Please read Genesis 2:24. “Therefore, a man leaves his father and his
mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
This verse speaks well that the relationship between a husband and a wife will
never change. The Lord Jesus also said, “Have you not read that he who made
them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a
man shall leave his father and mother and he joined to his wife, and the two
shall become one flesh.” When the Lord said, “one
flesh” it means that there is no distinction in status between the two. For God
did not create another human out of the dust but He had created Eve out of the
rib of Adam. What appears to be of two persons but in reality the two had
become one. So the husband and the wife are considered as one person.
With regard to the obligation
of a married couple Paul said, “Even so husbands should love their wives as
their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself’ (Eph ). This kind of love is not an
ordinary one. Paul mentioned it to denote the love between the Saviour and the church. Paul has said it rather aptly. He
elaborated further by saying, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the
Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the
church, ... Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself
up for her” (Eph 5:22-25). The obligation is reciprocal. When two are married
they should have concern for each other. Their wealth should not be divided,
their enterprises should not be divided, their
children should not be divided. Instead, they should help each other. “I am my
beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song 6:3). The Bible stresses further that a
married couple should give each other conjugal rights such that, “The husband
should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her
husband. For the wife does not rule her own body, but the husband does;
likewise, the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wile does. Do
not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may
devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you
through lack of self-control” (1 Cor 7:3-5).
Can Believers Divorce?
The Pharisees asked Jesus.
“Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put
her away?” Then Jesus replied saying, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed
you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to
you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity,
and marries another, commits adultery”(Mt 19:7-9).
Both Peter and Paul had encouraged believers to win over their unbelieving
spouses by their good conduct. They did not encourage them to divorce (1 Pet
3:1; 1 Cor 7:15, 16).
Therefore, we can understand
from here concerning the unbelieving partner if he or she desires to separate
let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. But since a brother
or a sister is married to an unbelieving partner it is the duty to bring his or
her spouse to believe the Lord. With regard to unchastity
it is the only possible reason for one to divorce. Paul said. “The body is not
meant for immorality, but for the Lord…. Do you not know that your bodies are
members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them
members of a prostitute? Never! Do YOU not know that he who joins himself to a
prostitute becomes one body with her?” (1 Cor -16). Essentially, there is a difference between
adultery and one who continues to live with an unbelieving spouse. For there is
still a chance for the unbelieving spouse to come to believe in the Lord,
whereas a believing brother who commits mortal sins there is no way we can
exhort him to repent (Heb 6:6).
Can Believers Remarry?
The question of remarrying
refers to two different categories of believers: one who has lost his/her
spouse, the other, a divorcee.
To the widow, Paul has this
to say, “A wife is bound to her husband as long as she lives. If the husband
dies, she is to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” and “To the
unmarried and widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do.
But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better
to marry than to be aflamed with passion” (1 Cor ; 8, 9). We know then, to a
widow or a widower who can exercise self-control it is good, otherwise it is
best that they marry again. To a divorcee:
If a husband or a wife was found to have
committed adultery and that he or she has been excommunicated by the church
authorities, then the remaining brother or she can marry again but must marry
in the Lord.
A wife must not separate from her husband, if
she has left him then she cannot marry again but she can reconcile with him if
both parties are agreeable (1 Cor ,
Marriage is an important
matter to one’s life. So, we should be very careful in choosing a life partner.
It is vital to marry in the Lord for we know that two cannot be “yoke together”
unless they come from the same faith. Since the church does not advocate
divorce as we are taught in the Bible, “What therefore God has joined together,
let no man put asunder” (Mk 10:9), we should not be influenced by the people of
the world. Instead, we should consecrate ourselves as children of God (2 Cor ). Bearing this in mind
immorality is the root of evil. For the sake of our belief, our eternal life,
our home and children, even for our church, we should come out from the
corrupted world and to keep ourselves undefiled.