By the time you read this article, I will have returned from whisking my lovely bride away to a secret location in celebration of our twentieth wedding anniversary. And while I must preface the coming statement with the obligatory “It’s not perfect,” by God’s grace, we have a wonderful marriage, and I can wholeheartedly say my wife is my greatest earthly blessing! Regrettably, many people miss the wonderful purpose and profound joy of marriage because they’ve been influenced by a number of lies about this biblical institution.
Without question the biblical concept of marriage—one man for one woman for life—is under severe assault today. Under the influence of the “father of lies” (John 8:44), Western culture is redefining and dismissing this foundational institution. The enemy’s tactics have been calculated and catastrophically effective.
Why have his attacks been so devastating?
The answer is complex, but a
major factor in Satan’s recent success is
his attack on foundations. You see, for
a culture to abandon the ingrained, traditional,
biblical definition of marriage,
it first must question the source of that
definition. This is the devil’s strategy,
and it’s not a new scheme. His ploy is as
old as Genesis 3: “
Did God really say?”
The strategy is simple: Use subtle questions and seemingly harmless ideas to get people to doubt, and ultimately reject, the authority of God’s Word. Undermine biblical teachings by undermining the Bible itself.
Sadly, many Christians have missed
the true nature of this fight because
they’ve swallowed the secular propaganda
that tolerance means being
neutral on social and moral issues.
But according to the Bible, neutrality
is impossible. Jesus says in Matthew 12:30, “
Whoever is not with me
is against me, and whoever does not
gather with me scatters.” Either God’s
Word is the authority or it’s not.
Another reason Christians are
befuddled by the enemy’s present triumph
is that we’ve missed the flashpoint
of today’s Genesis 3 attack on
God’s authority. Paul warns, “
But I am
afraid that as the serpent deceived
Eve by his cunning, your thoughts
will be led astray from a sincere and
pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Satan has been using the
same fundamental attack throughout
history, just manifested in diverse
ways. In the modern era, he has strategically
undermined the Bible’s history
in Genesis with evolutionary ideas
and millions of years. This subtle tactic
has caused multiple generations to
question and discard biblical authority.
Countless souls have concluded—rationally—that if we can’t trust the Bible
when it speaks of origins, we have no
reason to trust it about morality, marriage,
So how do we deal with today’s attack
on biblical marriage? By understanding
the foundational nature of the fight and
following the example of Jesus. When
the dominant thinkers in the culture
of his day questioned him about marriage,
he did something radical. He
quoted the Bible as the authority! He
Have you not read that
he who created them from the beginning
made them male and female, and
said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his
father and his mother and hold fast to
his wife, and the two shall become one
flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4–5).
How did Jesus define and defend marriage? He quoted from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24. He demonstrated that the doctrine of marriage is based on the truth of Genesis’ history and biology. Following this example, Christians can say authoritatively, uncompromisingly, and lovingly that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. Why? Because the God who created marriage designed it that way, and he defined it—in Genesis. But if that history in Genesis is not true, or God’s Word is not the authority, then why not redefine marriage into whatever you want it to be? That is exactly what our culture is doing today.
So, when we define and defend marriage
biblically, marriage is easy, right?
(This is where every married person
laughs.) Wrong. Even the best marriages
built on a biblical foundation
aren’t perfect or effortless. It doesn’t
take any newlywed long to recognize
marriage can be difficult. Why? The
answer, again, is in Genesis, specifically
Genesis 3. There we find the historical
record of sin entering the world
with death and Curse in tow. Some of
the judgments listed in Genesis 3 have
direct ramifications in marriage relationships.
And in general, since all people
descend from Adam, we’re all sinners
by nature (and choice). That means
selfishness and pride are our default
settings. The reason we often struggle
in marriage is not necessarily a spouse
or child, but our own sin. I can’t help
but think of James 4:1—“
quarrels and what causes fights among
you? Is it not this, that your passions
are at war within you?” Verse 2 goes
on to say, “
You desire and do not have,
so you murder. You covet and cannot
obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
Marriage is the reality of two sinners being brought into close, constant, intimate proximity. Not only that, but those two sinners live in a broken, sin-cursed world that can easily provoke our already sinful state in any number of ways. That’s why it’s vital that we strive daily to abide in Christ (John 15:1–17), being ever molded more into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18), putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13), fulfilling the God-ordained roles and purpose of marriage to his glory! As we do this, we will experience the real joy of marriage and realize that it is one of God’s best tools for sanctification.
It is in the sacred text of that first biblical book that we discover marriage’s origin, definition, and purpose.
Marriage finds its genesis in Genesis. It is in the sacred text of that first biblical book that we discover marriage’s origin, definition, and purpose. Today’s clash over marriage is fundamentally a battle over authority. Either we acknowledge the Bible as God’s Word and our ultimate authority, or we arbitrarily follow man’s word.
And just as standing on all of Scripture arms Christians with answers to scientific questions, it also gives us effective answers to today’s moral questions. By unleashing the truthfulness and authority of all of God’s Word, starting in Genesis, we can effectively contend for the faith (Jude 1:3), encourage the believer, challenge the skeptic, and clear a path for the gospel.