Marriage God’s Way

By Steve Ashby

Marriage has come a long way since Adam and Eve said “I do” in the Garden of Eden.

The First Marriage

Several years ago my Dad told me a story about Adam and Eve in the garden. It seems that one evening they were talking and Eve said, ‘Adam, do you love me?”

And Adam said, “Who else?”

Of course, this is not the beginning of the story. Before Adam arrived at the conclusion that Eve was his suitable match, he had some unusual events to confront him. We realize when we consider this garden scene that a great deal differs in that context from what we find in our own.

The environment there was perfect; fellowship with God was unhindered by sin; labor was not toilsome. And yet, we are told that something was missing . . . Adam was alone and this was not good.

ln looking at the account of Genesis 2:18ff, we see that God set out to remedy this situation by making “an help meet (i.e. a helper suitable) for him.” Having thus declared His intention, what immediately follows looks to be out of place—God brings the animals of the field and the birds of the air before Adam to be named.

However, it only looks out of Place until we consider the end of v. 20. Evidently, God brought all the animals before Adam for the naming ceremony so that he could see if there was one that was suited for him. But, alas, “for Adam there was not found an help meet for him,”

Adam needed one who was special from among God’s creation. He had been created in God’s image (1:27) and only one who bore like character could complement him. So God created Eve. And then, we see God acting like the father of the bride, “bringing her unto the man,” (2:22).

Adam’s response was immediate: this is it, now, finally, at last! After looking over all those animals and finding none suitable for him, his sense of relief at seeing Eve must have been unbounded. He had finally found his suitable match.

So God performed the first marriage in v. 24 with those words that are still so familiar to us: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they two shall be one flesh.”

The Only Constant

While all this seems fairly apparent from the account in Genesis, there are many things today that don’t seem apparent to people at all. Man-woman relations, finding a suitable match, principles of marriage—the only constant seems to be that everything is constantly changing.

And for many of us, it doesn’t look as though things are getting better, either in the world or in the church.

Where’s The Delight?

Hostility between the sexes is not waning but rather is increasing. At every level of society we can see that as God’s prescriptions are diluted in our thinking, we desire to dominate one another in our practice. Every sort of institution, whether governmental, educational, business or religious, has had to think through the issues of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and sexual abuse.

I wonder sometimes how much farther this can go, how much worse it can get. What has happened to the delight that once existed between the sexes? Where is the delight that could take a man used to tending the garden and caring for the animals and turn him into a poet at the mere sight of a woman—a poet who says,


Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh:

She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Oh, how far we have fallen!

Finding A Suitable Match

Obviously, finding a suitable match should not present us with the same kind of quandary with which Adam was confronted. Although, one might wonder, given the stnnge and perverse appetites that people are seeking to satisfy today. There is no shortage of people, both male and female, all created in God’s image, among whom we might search. But is just anyone as suitable a match as is everyone else?

I had an interesting conversation with a Christian student at Ball State University. His name is Jesse and he is preparing himself for ministry (He is currently involved in ministry, both evangelism and discipling on his secular campus).

We were talking about how he met his girlfriend. He had been praying with Jay (his accountability partner who is another Christian student). As they prayed together for several months about finding a suitable match, they put together a list of qualities from the scriptures that they should be looking for in a girl. They were serious in their study of the Bible, and they were serious in their praying.

What some would call happenstance, Jesse calls providence. It was God who brought him and Amy into the same class on this secular campus. And, as he had been praying, she had also been praying. Once they met, each recognized in the other the spiritual qualities they had prayed God would show them in the one who was suitable for them.



Principles To Follow

When God married Adam and Eve, He gave certain principles that were to characterize the marriage relationship: Ieaving, cleaving and one flesh. It is evident that this was intended to be a model for marriage for all time.

We know this because of the principle of leaving. A man is instructed to “leave his father and mother.” It must be a model for future generations since Adam had neither father nor mother.

The leavingand cleaving are two sides of the same coin. He is leaving behind one familial relationship to begin a new one, and the new one is to take priority. He is to “cleave unto his wife.”

Finally, God gives the principle that the two “shall be one flesh.” The one fleshprinciple of intimacy was given by God for marriage.

The order of these principles which God gave must not be reversed. Satan, who deceived the first couple in the garden, is still deceiving couples today. The tendency that is so prevalent today is to try out the “one flesh” part first. If that and everything else goes well . . . well, then we’ll think about “cleaving.”

The consequence of not following God’s principles is often seen in the “leaving.” God said to leave father and mother; what’s happening today is that spouses are leaving each other. God’s principles will still work today. But only if they are followed.

Article adapted from Contactmagazine, November 1999.