A little girl was at a wedding. She asked, “Mummy, why do brides always wear white?” The mum replied, “Because they’re happy, dear.” Halfway through the wedding the girl whispered, “Mummy, if brides wear white because they’re happy, then why do men wear black?”
We live in a world that thinks marriage is a bit of a laugh.
In March 2008 The Guardian newspaper reported that almost 50%, nearly half, of all UK marriages are ending in divorce. The report said that those who live together without marrying are even more likely to separate. Since the credit crunch hit us, rates are just going up and up.
Some of us here today may find the subject of marriage a very painful thing.
We may have been through a painful separation or divorce.
We may have the raw memories of a precious husband or wife that has passed away.
If that’s you, I want you to know today that God sees you, and offers you his rich resources of comfort and healing grace.
Some of us here today are single because we’ve never found a partner yet, or we’ve even chosen a life of singleness. I want you to know that the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul were just like you. Through the challenges of single life, they learnt to be single and satisfied in God. They show us that to be single is not to be less ’whole’ than a couple.
And some of us here today are married and experiencing the joys and challenges of that. I want you to know something today! By God’s grace you and I CAN have a healthy and joyful marriage. But only with Christ’s help.
It’s good to remind ourselves of God’s Word on Marriage.
Reading: Genesis 2:18-25...
Four things you should know about marriage
1. Marriage is about companionship
‘The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone”’, v18.
In chapter one God kept saying everything was good, good and very good. But suddenly he is saying that something is not good. This is shocking stuff. And we need to ask why?
Why is it not good for man to be alone?
Is it because Adam would be lonely?
Is it because Adam would not be as fully himself without another human to interact with?
Is it because Adam could not be as fruitful all on his own?
Yes, yes and yes!
Apparently God has made people for people. This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to get married. But it does mean that people need people. It means that God has made marriage for companionship. For friendship.
Many of you know we lived in Asia for a number of years. In the country we were in, if a married couple didn’t have a baby in their first year of marriage the man could divorce his wife! What was the idea behind that? That marriage is about babies! And yes, Genesis 1:28 says that babies are an important part of marriage. But they are not the only reason for marriage. At least 50% of the reason for marriage is here in this verse: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’.
I’m speaking to the married couples now. Maybe your spouse isn’t with you today. But here’s the question: How good a companion and friend are you to your spouse? How much quality time do you spend with them? Not time in front of the TV. Not time fast asleep next to each other in bed. But real time; time being a companion and friend? A marriage can be a lonely place to be. Husbands and wives, are you emotionally, practically, spiritually together with your spouse? ........ and I lead a busy life. But we make sure we make time during the week we find those moments to connect with each other.
Marriage is about companionship.
2. Marriage is about one man and one woman
The Lord goes on to say, v18, “I will make a helper suitable for him”. Look at that word: suitable.
In verses 19-20 all sorts of creatures pass in front of Adam.
But animals weren’t suitable as a life companion.
Another man wasn’t suitable for Adam as a life companion.
God didn’t provide 2 Eves for Adam.
God found that only the woman, v22, was suitable for Adam.
It was about one man and one woman!
Here in England, society is busy redefining marriage.
Marriage has come to mean something optional...something temporary.
Homosexual couples can get a kind of semi marriage – a civil partnership.
Now I want to remind us that God loves homosexual people. We must never sneer at or condemn anybody. There are many sincere Christians who struggle with homosexual feelings. We need to stand with such people, and help them to live a holy life; just as we need to help anyone temped to engage in sex outside of marriage. If you are struggling in this way, feel free to come and speak to me, I or others will pray with you. Don’t try and stand alone! I have a friend who struggles in this area. He told me: Tell your people to get help and not to try and stand alone.
Here in v22, God shows us that marriage is about one man and one woman.
Our marriages will come under attack! There are many temptations.
The temptation to devalue marriage like our culture does.
The temptation to be unfaithful to our partner.
But we are not destined to be an unfaithful spouse! The Bible says that the one who calls you is faithful. He will do it! The One who calls you to a holy marriage, will keep you holy as you remain in Him and walk with him.
3. Marriage is about serving God
Still in verse 18, God says, “I will make a helper suitable for him.” Look at the word: helper.
The wife is to be a helper. Helping is not a negative thing. It’s a good thing. God is also a helper. The Bible often speaks of God as our helper.
We need to be careful here. It does not say the woman is to serve the man. It is saying that the woman will serve with the man.
You see, God has just given them a job to do – v15, to work the land and care for it. By taking care of the land they are serving God. The woman is given to help the man in this job. It is the job of obeying and serving God. Marriage was created so together they could serve God well.
Sometimes us men think that our wives were created to serve us!
We act as though God said to Adam, ‘I will give you a helper. She will do ALL the cleaning and ALL the cooking and ALL the ironing and generally be your slave’.
I confess.... I still struggle to do the washing up, and to help ..... with the housework! ...... is very patient with me! She does a lot. But as Christian men we must fight against the lie that says women are there to serve men.
Marriage is about men and women serving God. It’s about men and women helping each other to be faithful to God. When a husband and wife realise this purpose of their marriage, it revolutionises their married life. They become united in serving Christ. Their home becomes a haven. Their lives show the grace and love of Christ. Married people, we need to ask ourselves, how am I helping my spouse to serve God?
4. Marriage is about becoming one flesh
Verse 24 says, they will become one flesh.
Did you hear ..... telling last week about how he and his wife were living together, but they were 2-flesh?! He was so busy working and making a future for the family that he broke up the family. The good was the enemy of the best. And God’s best for a couple is to become one flesh. As we draw to a close, I want to give you 6 bullet points about ‘one flesh’:
1.One flesh is a picture of the intimacy God gives between husband and wife.
2.One flesh is a picture of sexual union between husband and life.
3.One flesh is a picture of two hearts, minds, spirits, and bodies united in love.
4.One flesh is a picture of marriage. Don’t miss the fact that God comes along, v22, and gives Eve to Adam just as a Father gives a bride away in a marriage ceremony.
5.One flesh is reserved for marriage. Becoming one flesh is great. It takes more than sleeping together. It takes a life time of growth and commitment.
6.Perhaps the most amazing thing is that marriage – this one-flesh image – is a picture of the unity of Christ and his church... [Read] Ephesians 5:31-32... God wants intimate relationship with his people. Marriage is supposed to be a picture of that.
So, married people: Look at your marriage and ask – How are we doing when it comes to becoming one flesh? How are we doing as an example of God’s intimacy with his people?
Besides your relationship with God, marriage is the most important relationship in your life.
Treat it like a garden that needs to be weeded and watered and looked after.
Treat it like a precious gem that you dare not lose.
This year ........... and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. There have been very difficult times of learning to live together and love each other. We have cried, we have shouted, we have fought! But God has developed in us a deep love for each other.
As I look at Genesis 2, I see some crucial principles of marriage that I want to stand by. Today, those of you who are married – will you join me in a prayer of recommitment to God’s purposes in our marriages?
If you’re married – whether or not your spouse is here today, whether or not your spouse is a Christian – I invite you to stand with me now... and say these words of affirmation together. If you’d rather not stand, that’s also fine...
Affirmation for the Married
By God’s grace I will be the companion my spouse needs.
By God’s grace I will be wholeheartedly faithful to my spouse.
By God’s grace we recommit our marriage to its purpose of serving God together more fruitfully.
By God’s grace we will commit ourselves to nurture and care for our marriage, so that we become more and more ‘one flesh’, and so that we are an example of God’s love for his people.
Lord, be glorified in our marriage, in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever! Amen.