Because of the evolutionary worldview’s impact on Western society, today we are seeing the dramatic redefinition of marriage. In many societies, for example, homosexual and even polyamorous “marriages” are becoming normal.
Furthermore, arguments used by those who support same-sex “marriage” have even convinced some Christians. For example, it is often asked, “Why shouldn’t any two, or even more, people who love one another be able to get married just as a heterosexual couple would?” However, rather than listening to the arguments of the world, we need to go to the Word of God and see why the Creator instituted marriage in the first place, since it was His idea.
If we want to understand the definition of marriage, it is necessary to understand the origin and purpose of marriage. Marriage is not a social construct, invented by man who determined its purpose; it was given to us by our Creator.
In Genesis 2 we read a revealed historical account of the first marriage. When God created the first man, He sought a suitable counterpart (verse 18). He chose neither an animal nor an exact duplicate of the man, but instead He created a woman—uniquely formed for intimacy, companionship, co-workmanship, and pro-creation (verse 22).
God joined together the first man Adam (ʾadam) (1 Corinthians 15:45) and the first woman, who was taken from his side, called Eve (chavvah) (Genesis 3:20). The fact that Adam and Eve are made for each other is indicated in the wordplay of man (iysh), a gender-specific being, and woman (ishshah). This specific association is a reflection of the fact that when a man and woman leave their father and mother they become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Therefore, marriage is the union of only two people—a male and female (Matthew 19:5)—for the purpose of covenantal companionship (Genesis 2:18; Malachi 2:14) and the raising up of godly offspring (Genesis 1:28; Malachi 2:15).
The woman is regarded as man’s counterpart or complement, and the use of the term comparable (Genesis 2:18) indicates a correspondence between the man and the woman. The Hebrew term for comparable, neged, is a preposition that can mean both “corresponding to” and “opposite to.” It is a beautiful choice of vocabulary that illustrates an individual who is both like a man in terms of being human, but who is also an opposite or complement to the man by being that which is formed from him.
In the creation account, God’s image is expressed in the combination of the male-female relationship (Genesis 1:26–27). It is this union that God blessed, commanding them (Adam and Eve) to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), and only a female helper can help the man fulfil this mission. Also, to be blessed in the Old Testament is directly tied to reproduction (Genesis 17:16, 20, 22:17, 24:60, 28:3; Deuteronomy 7:14), which again is something only a male and female can naturally do.
Genesis 2:24 is referenced several times in the New Testament in the context of marriage. For example, Paul quotes this verse in Ephesians 5:31 to describe the marital “one flesh” union of a man and a woman, which also illustrates the union between Christ and His church. Moreover, Jesus regards a male and female relationship as a prerequisite for a valid marriage as can be seen in His affirmation of the divine order at the beginning of creation as male and female (Matthew 19:4–6), thus revealing who should be in a marital union together. In Mark 10:6, Jesus also affirmed that the first marriage was at “the beginning of creation” on Day Six of Creation Week (Genesis 1:26–31).
The only loving marriage relationship that the Bible supports is that between one man and one woman; therefore, biblical love is defined by a complementary relationship. Although it may be difficult to speak to people about their sinful relationships, as Christians we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)—meaning we are to love people by telling them the truth of God’s Word and not by concealing it from them. For example, in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 Paul gives a list of vices committed by those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. In context, Paul was dealing with a case of a professed Christian who was actively living a sexually immoral life (1 Corinthians 5:1–2). This man and the Corinthian church, who approved of what he was doing, had deceived themselves. How did they deceive themselves? They deceived themselves by thinking that he could repeatedly commit this action in an unrepentant way and get away with it. Paul, however, reminds the Corinthians of the beauty and power of the gospel to transform lives in 1 Corinthians 6:11:
Such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
By the standards of many contemporary churches, we would probably say that the people who tolerated this man were the loving ones. However, the only one who really loved this man was the Apostle Paul—because he was willing to do what needed to be done to recover him for the Kingdom of God.