Bethel Temple Cathedral
of Agape Christian Ministries
New Bedford, Massachusetts
The Marriage Enrichment Ministry
The Bible defines "family" in a narrow sense as the union of one man and one woman in matrimony which is normally blessed with one or several natural or adopted children. In the of Genesis, we read that God in the beginning created first a man (Adam) to excercise dominion over his creation and subsequently a woman (Eve) as the man's "suitable helper" (Genesis 2:18,20). Then, the inspired writer remarks, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24 ESV). This verse sets forth the biblical pattern as it was instituted by God at the beginning; one man is united to one woman in matrimony, and the two form one new natural family. In this regard, "become one flesh" not only refers to the establishment of one new family but also to the husband and wilfe's sexual union leading to the procreation of offspring. This in turn, is in keeping with God's original command to the first couple to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion" over all of creation (Genesis 1:28).
Scripture teaches that family was God's idea and that marriage is a divine, not merely human, institution. The implication of this truth is significant indeed, for this means that humans are not free to renegotiate or redefine marriage and the family in any they choose but that they are called to preserve and respect what has been divinely instituted. This is in keeping with Jesus' words, uttered when his contemporaries asked Him abou the permissibibility of divorce: "What therefore God has joined together let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6). For this reason, marriage is far more than a human social contract; it is a divinely instituted covenant.
But what is a "covenant"? In essence, a covenant is an agreement between two parties that is established before God as a witness, an agreement who permanence is ultimately safeguarded by none other than God Himself. In this sense, marriage is a covenant: It is entered into by the husband and the wife before God as a witness. Because it is ultimately God who has joined the marriage partners together, the husband and the wife vow to each other abiding loyalty and fidelity "till death do us part ." Rightly understand, therefore, a marriage entered into before God involves three persons: a husband, a wife, and God. For this reason, it is not self-interest, human advantage, or an unfettered commitment to personal freedom that governs the marriage relationship, but the husband and wife's joint commitment to conduct their marriage based on God's design and sovereign plan.
The New Testament teaches that the restoration of God's original design for marriage in Christ is part of God's realignment of all things under Christ's authority and lordship. In the Book of Ephesians, we read that it is God's purpose "to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ" (Ephesians10 NIV). Thus marriage is not an end in itself but part of God's end-time restoration of all things in the person of Jesus Christ.