Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Since the time man was created God has cared about marriage and the home. In Genesis 2:18 the Bible tells us when God looked at His creation he saw that it was not good for man to be alone and he created a “help meet” for him, the woman. Just a few verses later in the narrative God gives the first command on marriage that we have used as our text.
I think this story in the account of creation answers our question immediately. Once God had created man and woman, Adam and Eve, he then brought them together and as Jesus stated in Matthew 19:4-5, And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Certainly God has shown from the beginning his concern for marriage and the home. Seeing that is the case, we will turn our attention today to Does God STILL Care Who We Marry? To try to answer this question I want to look at what the Bible says about marriage in each dispensation of time, and then make some quick applications to us today. I would also direct you to Randy Cantrell’s article “Picking A Spouse” for more practical applications for the Christian.
Marriage in the Patriarchal Age
We have already noted Gods plan for marriage that first given in the Garden of Eden, and it doesn’t take long for us to read of another reference to marriage. In the 6th chapter of Genesis the Bible tells us that the sons of God took wives of all which they chose (verse 2), and the result was, “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (verse 5). This wickedness grieved God at his heart, and he repented of even creating man (verse 6), all because man had decided to go out and marry whom he would. The response to this wickedness was the Genesis flood in which all of mankind except 8 souls (Noah and his family) was destroyed. Note in verse 9 of Genesis 6 that God says of Noah that he was, “perfect in his generations.” Albert Barnes says Noah was, “…distinguished from his contemporaries who were the offspring of promiscuous intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly.” God was certainly concerned about who His people married in the Patriarchal Age.
We continue to see this principle in Genesis 24:1-8 where Abraham made his servant swear to go to his own country to choose a wife for Isaac. We see it again in Genesis 28 when Isaac sent Jacob to his own people to find a wife. The principle of God’s people marrying only God’s people, and to keep themselves pure from the rest of the world is evident in the Patriarchal Age.
Marriage in the Mosaic Dispensation
God’s command to His people under the Law of Moses about marriage is pretty plain.
Deuteronomy 7:3-6, Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. 6 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. (KJV)
God’s people were not to intermarry with the nations around them. The reason for this was two-fold. First, the children of Israel would be turned away from serving God. Second, and maybe more importantly, a pure bloodline had to be kept for the Messiah to come through. According to Deuteronomy 18:18 the Messiah was to come through the children of Israel and so they had to remain a distinct or separate people.
Just a couple of other places where the teaching of the Mosaic Law on marriage can be found are Exodus 34:12-16, Joshua 23:11-13, Nehemiah 13:23-27, and Ezra Chapters 9 and 10. Also for your reference we find specific teachings for priests and marriage in Leviticus 21:14 and Ezekiel 44:22.
Marriage in the New Testament Dispensation
I want to begin this section with a quick observation that was made by Wayne McKamie in a study on Modest Apparel several years ago. Brother McKamie said, “I realize that what I quoted to you in Deuteronomy 22 — that’s the Old Testament. But, I just want to raise this one question, as long as I can remember, we talk about the Patriarchal, the Mosaic, and the Christian age. Has God ever lowered a standard? People, he has raised a lot of them! But, has He ever decided that something that was an absolute disgust, highly detestable, then there would come an age in which that thing doesn’t make any difference to Him… that it’s all right now?” And that begins to answer our question today. God has legislated who His people are to marry in the Patriarchal Age, and in the Mosaic Age, has he now lowered the standard to where it doesn’t make any difference in the Christian Age?
In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 we find this, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.(KJV)
R.C.H. Lenski says in his commentary on 2 Corinthians that this idea of being unequally yoked, “is conative in this connection: do not try, do not ever incline or begin to be so yoked up.” I think that it is plain that God does not want His children to even BEGIN this type of relationship. I think young people must carefully weigh this when they are considering their dating habits as well. Do not even begin to be yoked in this way.
I want to touch on a couple of more passages very quickly. In 1 Corinthian 9:5 Paul writes, “Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” In this passage Paul certainly limits himself to having a wife that is a believer.
In 1 Corinthians 7:39 Paul writes again, The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.(KJV) The widow here was bound to be married only to a believer.
The matter seems plain to me. God has always cared who his people marry. So, from our study, who are God’s people to marry? In the Genesis 2 record we find that a man is to marry a woman. That would seem to be self evident, but in the time we live in today with Gay Marriage becoming more prevalent it must be discussed. In the record of Genesis 6, Deuteronomy 7 and 2 Corinthians 6 we find that God’s people are to marry God’s people. The basis for this is twofold. First, so we will not be drawn away from God. Second, so we will remain a separate and distinct people.
Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:9, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:(KJV)
We are a holy nation and a peculiar or “set apart” people today just as they were in old times. I believe it is just as important for us to remain pure from the world as it was for the people of old, and we can more easily do so by following God’s plan for marriage and marry only in the Lord.