This past week I wrote a summary of Genesis 2. The writer of Genesis introduces readers to the first marriage in this passage. God looks on Adam alone in the Garden and says that it is not good for him to be alone. After bringing every animal to Adam and having him name them, God sets out to create a helper suitable for Adam. He causes Adam to fall into a deep sleep and removes one of his ribs. God fashions the rib into a woman and presents her to Adam. Adam, overcome with the moment, exclaims “this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” His statement means that he saw her as being the same as he is and she is part of him. The writer of Genesis concludes by saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
This last verse becomes foundational for the Bible’s understanding of marriage. When Jesus is asked about divorce, he appeals to this verse to show that marriage is a permanent union. The Apostle Paul quotes this verse in his teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33. Marriage is a permanent union, broken only by the death of one of the members in the covenant union. This lifelong union reflects God’s covenant commitment to His people. The Bible pictures God as a husband who is fiercely committed to His bride and who will never abandon her. He will be faithful to His people until they are ultimately welcomed into His eternal presence.
In addition to the biblical and theological arguments for the permanence of marriage, there are two practical reasons why you should be committed to your marriage until the end of your life:
To experience genuine, lasting joy in your marriage, you will need to change a lot. The Bible calls this sanctification and it is an important part of marriage. A person who trusts in Christ puts to death the remaining sin in their lives and grows in likeness to the character of Jesus. If you and I are honest, we will admit that we are the biggest problem in our marriages.. (Yes, there are some exceptions to this.) You will recognize that there is indwelling sin that is affecting your marriage and there are deficiencies in your character where you need to grow. The process of facing both our sins and the areas where grow is needed can be difficult and painful. You will only put in the hard work of making these changes if you are committed to your marriage for the rest of your life. When you are committed to the good of your spouse and the glory of God for the rest of your life, then you will be committed to change.
Your spouse needs to change a lot as well. Your spouse will sin against you and disappoint you. Therefore, you will have to learn to be patient with them, love them where they are, and forgive them when they wrong you. Harboring bitterness and unforgiveness will rot your marriage from the inside out. It will sap your joy and bleed over into the way you treat your spouse. When you are committed to the long-term health of your marriage, you will recognize how much God has forgiven you and will find it a joy to forgive your spouse as well.
“How I Learned about Forgiveness”