What are the components of a Biblical marriage? What does it take to make a marriage work?
According to the Bible, there are two foundational principals for a successful marriage.
1. The Covenant Commitment
2. Spousal Roles
Let’s discuss each.
The Covenant Commitment
According to the Bible, marriage is a COVENANT not a CONTRACT.
A contact is between two people, each promising to meet certain terms of an agreement. If either party fails to meet their end of the agreement, the contract can be broken.
However a covenant is between three people— man, woman and God.
In a covenant marriage, each spouse agrees to TRUST God for the success of their marriage. When one spouse fails to do what they are supposed to, rather than getting mad or threatening divorce, the other spouse goes to God and asks for resolution. Because of this there is safety in the marriage. A covenant will not be broken, because it trusts in God regardless of the situation.
When there is trouble in the marriage, divorce is the result of not trusting God. Divorce tells God, “My marriage problems are bigger than you God. I don’t trust you to fix it.”
In divorce and remarriage the “sin” is in the divorce not necessarily the remarriage. If this is your situation read my article. “The Compassionate Side of Divorce and Remarriage” and learn how God wants to make your marriage work.
God asks man to be the LEADER of the home. His life is to exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, faith, long suffering, goodness, gentleness, meekness and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23).
He is to PROTECT his wife and family physically, spiritually and emotionally. He is to be sensitive to her needs as he is his own. He is to step up and take pressure off of her as it seems fit. He is to make his wife feel safe. He is to work so there is income to meet the needs of the family.
The following scriptures help us to understand his role:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.Ephesians 5:25-33
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.1 Peter 3:7
Two key words for a man’s role in marriage— he is to LEAD and PROTECT.
God asks a woman to DEFER to the man’s leadership in the home. Her role is to HELP and encourage her husband. She is to make a house a home seeking ways to make it comfortable for everyone to live there. She is to be a fortress for her husband, allowing him to be vulnerable without fear of rejection. Her beauty should come from inner strength of character. She should be such that her husband can come to her for advise without fearing domination. She should be his most adamant supporter always helping, hoping and believing in him even when things look down.
The following scriptures help us to understand her role:
Wives, submit (DEFER) to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.Ephesians 5:22-24
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a HELPER suitable for him.”Genesis 2:18
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.1 Peter 3:3-4
Two key words for a woman’s role in marriage— she should DEFER and HELP.
Why the Covenant Commitment and Spousal Roles Work to Make a Successful Marriage
The Covenant Commitment
When things don’t go right in a marriage, the Covenant Commitment provides stability. People have “baggage” and it takes time to work these issues through. The Covenant Commitment provides safety in the marriage in that it requires each spouse to trust God for their issues. No one can threaten divorce in order to get their way. In this way God can begin to develop the Fruit of the Spirit in each life of the marriage. The two key words the Covenant Commitment provides is TRUST and SAFETY.
The roles of the man and woman fit together like a puzzle. While the man is leading and protecting the wife is deferring and helping. Not that the woman is any less in her role than the man is in his. They are coequals. It’s just that a home can’t have two chiefs, it wouldn’t work. On any given decision the woman is offering her opinion and the man is asking. She is an equal contributor to the solution of any problem. However she respectfully allows the man to make the final decision. The two key words the Spousal Roles provide are COHESIVENESS and COOPERATION.
What Happens When Spousal Roles Are Not Followed
When couples do not follow the spousal roles confusion ensues. We see the result of this in the relationship between Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3 we see that Eve took the LEAD in deciding whether to eat from the tree of Good and Evil— Adam DEFERRED.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.Genesis 3:6
As a result God placed a CURSE on them for not following his directives (Genesis 3:14-19).
That curse also falls on marriages that don’t follow his directives today. Their marriages fall into confusion as well.
However God breaks the curse for those who follow his directives through Christ (Galatians 3:13).
The Purpose of Marriage
So what is the purpose of marriage and why is God so insistent that we follow the foundational principles of marriage?
It’s because the foundational principles of marriage help couples find AGREEMENT by trusting in Him. God knows that good things happen when two people pull in the same direction.
There is evidence of this in scripture.
Again, I tell you that if TWO of you on earth AGREE about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.Matthew 18:19
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.Ecclesiastes 4:12
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?Amos 3:3
So as we TRUST God through the Covenant Commitment and couples COOPERATE with each other through the Spousal Roles, a lot gets done and God’s purposes are advanced through the marriage.
When we follow the foundational principals of marriage, not only will God’s purposes be advanced in our marriage, but the Fruit of His Spirit will be found in us as well (Galatians 5:22-23).
In the end, what greater testimony can we give than we trusted God and learned to LOVE through a covenant marriage? To God be the glory!
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.Matthew 22:36-40