Marriage is the oldest relationship in the world, established by The Sovereign Creator, and His principles for marriage always remain the same, according to His defined roles. Marriage is God's provision. It is a sacrament instituted by Him through which a man and a woman enters into a lifetime agreement by vows made to each other in the presence of God.

Husband and wife are to be complete as one. Polygamy is condemned by God. Marriage must be entered into seriously, prayerfully and be preceded by a proper engagement. It is wise to marry a believer in Christ and both the husband and the wife are to turn to Christ and each other before their previous families.

It is important that marriage should be a spiritual union, for unless male and female are joined with Christ in The Kingdom of God, the couple miss the purpose and plan of God for their marriage. They are to reflect the love of Christ for His church with their love. The husband and wife are made one in the Spirit as long as they both have Jesus as Lord of their life in every area of their marriage, in accordance with their vows.

Marriages play a purpose for love, procreation, comfort, unity, knowledge, relaxation and a defence against temptation. A husband is ordained to find satisfaction of his wife and to meet her unique needs; the wife is to be sensitive to the unique masculine needs.

The act of sexual relations is God-given, to be enjoyed within the marriage. Human sexuality has a specialised purpose which goes beyond procreation (a distinction between mankind and the animal realm). Sexual relationships belong to and should be exclusive only to marriage, never to take place before a wedding. Sexual intercourse solemnises the commitment of marriage.

God made two out of one, with the exception of the gift of celibacy. God The Creator, has set the boundary for sexuality, and anything short of this commitment is destructive. Both husbands and wives each have sexual needs that are to be met by their partner in the intimacy of the sanctity of marriage. They agree to become 'one flesh' with each other exclusively, to be joined together physically and enter a spiritual union, only to be broken (hopefully) by death.

Both husband and wife must understand that they, after entering marriage, do no longer hold for themselves exclusive rights over their own bodies.

Jesus in His teachings pointed to the original plan of God for marriage, in which both husbands and wives were to be equal partners to be loved. Jesus taught that the stately purpose of marriage was love for each other and would bring about the procreation of children.

When both the husband and wife know the Lord as their personal Saviour, with The Holy Spirit living in their hearts, they find it quite easy as believers to submit to The Lordship of Christ and to the obedience of God's Word.

Paul explained how both partners are to present each other before the Lord. The husband will be empowered to love his wife as Christ loves His Church, to present her pure, undefiled, without spot or blemish and the wife returning the love, that the husband has given her.

The wife is required to respect the love and protection of her husband, relinquishing to his leadership role of the family, spiritually and physically. Forgiveness and kindness should abound in a Christian home.

The husband is provider, protector, father and spiritual head of the home and family. He is to be a good example of Christian living, encourage the teaching of Christian Truths in his family, give responsibility of chores to children, discipline his children and create (foster) love within the family home. The husband is personally responsible before God for the welfare of his wife and children. He is to realise that he is to take on spiritual leadership as well as family leadership.

Husbands and wives are to recognise that in Christ both have equal standing. Neither is on a level higher or lower than the other. A wife needs to surrender the authority of responsibility to her husband so that God can place her spiritual welfare upon him. A wife needs to support and respect her husband in the disciplining of the children, according to The Word of God.

Man, by himself is incomplete, he needs a helpmate. A husband is to regard his wife as his own flesh. He must cherish her and be considerate.

The wife is not commanded to obey her husband, but only to obey God. The husband has to realise he cannot command his wife anything, he has to recognise that his wife is to only obey a direct command of God. His love, as her husband, will bring her devotion to him.

Couples are able to overcome all temptations with faithfulness and trust towards each other. If the husband gives their expectations to God, then peace will rule in the hearts of their family.

Marriage occupies a position of respect for men and for women. Scripture depicts it is a lifelong female and male, stable, secure, covenant relationship, which helps stabilise communities. Romance is the incentive for marriage between couples today, previously parents arranged the marriage of their children into safe and secure families and the love bond grew between the couples as their commitment to each other lasted.

Marriage is part of God's intention for humanity, to form the basis for a family which is the primary system of society. Where marriage flourishes, it creates sanctification for the family and wider communities.

There is no room for abuse or tyranny directed to either partner. Wives are to grant the leadership of the commitment and family to their husband, as Christ submitted Himself to God The Father, who are also united as One.

A Christian Marriage is a 'type', a model of Christ and His Church. God determined that leadership was servanthood and husbands were to emulate the role of Jesus.

Marriage is self-sacrificing, loving and caring for one another.

If husbands and wives ignore God's spiritual and physical programme there is no peace, no contentment, no union but a house divided, which cannot stand. Human wisdom cannot compete with The All-wise God.

Only recently in the western world, has marriage taken second place to sensual attraction, setting self-emotions above moral will.

Human selfishness derails God's principles of long-term commitments. Older parents are concerned that their children ignore them, younger people think of world population, parents with young children are unhappy with restricted lifestyles, respect of others has declined.

In today's society, where there is becoming less and less acceptance of the responsibilities to marriage and commitment, it shows rebellion and contempt for the basic concept of order in human society. It is a lack of support for community living obligations to the nation under God, for future generations learn their values from their elders. Children usually do what they see adults do and say what they hear adults say.

It would help husbands and wives to understand that the Christian concept of headship is not necessarily authoritative leadership but both husband and wife share roles within the marriage. True leadership as Christ taught is serving and not one of power.

Christ stressed that marriage was a noble and holy institution. It was the original teaching of God, The Creator, that one man was to be married to one wife. Jesus comfortably gave dignity to wives and mothers and clarified correct teaching on divorce if the marriage failed. God has allowed a marriage to be dissolved only in the case of adultery and fornication. Widows are free to remarry, divorcees only under certain circumstances, made clear in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, heads of state for political and military reasons, who had more than one wife did so, not understanding God's model of marriage in the Garden of Eden, one man, one woman to become one flesh.

The Bible begins with a marriage and ends with a marriage, Jesus first miracle was performed at a marriage ceremony.

Marriage will not exist after the end of this age, in the new Kingdom of God. The Bible reveals that believers will have resurrected spiritual bodies.

Christians above all people, should accommodate the concepts of marriage and teach their families a growing understanding of God's Will.

SCRIPTURES Malachi 2:14, Matthew 19:4, Ephesians 5:3.
QUESTIONS 1] When did God introduce marriage to mankind? 2] Is marriage a covenant relationship? 3] What is required of the husband? 4] What is required of the wife?

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