June may be more famous for nuptials, especially outdoor ceremonies.

But, February is hands-down the most marriage-and-romance-centric month.  It’s National Wedding Month, has National Marriage Week (Feb. 7-14), and, of course, Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14). 

So, break out the roses and chocolate.

Although celebrated in books, movies and referenced as far back as the Garden of Eden, marriage is still the most underrated institution in history.

Without it, nothing works. It’s the key to stability, peace, wealth and progress.

Marriage-based family life is the organizing principle behind all civilized cultures. It brings the sexes together in a unique legal, social, economic and spiritual union. Because it’s indispensable, societies have accorded it various protections and privileges not granted to other types of unions.

The Heart of Marriage – Complementarity

No other relationship transforms young men and women into more productive, less selfish, and more mature people as husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers. No other relationship affords children the best economic, emotional, and psychological environment. At the core of marriage are the manifold and complementary differences between the sexes, between masculinity and femininity.

Marriage-based kinship is essential to stability and continuity. A man is far more apt to sacrifice to help a son-in-law than some unrelated man who lives with his daughter. Kinship imparts family names, heritage and property.

It secures the identity and commitment of fathers for the sake of their children, and it entails mutual obligations to the community. Even without children, marriage is a societal good, as the two sexes form a unique bond and provide social stability.

The term “marriage” for thousands of years has referred only and specifically to joining people of the opposite sex in a permanent union. Until very recently, staging a bride-less wedding or one without a groom would have been the height of absurdity, not a “civil right.”

That changed in 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court created the heretofore unknown “constitutional right” to same-sex marriage in their Obergefell ruling.

Since then, a majority of Americans supposedly has gone along with the radical transformation of marriage, according to numerous surveys.  But this doesn’t mean they are happy with it or agree with it.  Because of the aggressively enforced PC culture, few people want to admit to having traditionalist viewpoints.

In any case, it would behoove anyone who seeks understanding on any moral matter to check out God’s Word – the Bible.

What Does God Say About Marriage?

Understanding the Biblical view on virtually any topic requires a look at Genesis, where God reveals His plan for humanity, including marriage and family.

Genesis 1:27 states:

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.

Genesis 2:24, a verse cited by Jesus in Mark 10:2-12, as Jesus strengthened the moral law regarding divorce, states:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Thus, the very first description of a relationship between humans was a marriage between a husband and wife – Adam and Eve.

Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon of Houston Baptist University notes the unanimity of the Bible in the Old and New Testaments regarding the complementarities of the sexes, and writes:

“Indeed, every narrative, law, proverb, exhortation, poetry, and metaphor in the pages of Scripture that has anything to do with sexual relations presupposes a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations and marriage.”

In the account of the Flood, the only people left uncorrupted and who were saved were Noah and his wife, and their sons and their wives (Gen. 7:13). All of the animals, birds and even “creeping things” were taken aboard in twos, “male and female” (Gen. 7:16).

Marriage is God’s positive channeling of sex into a commitment beyond oneself to a greater good. By conditioning sex to a permanent, loving relationship between a man and a woman, marriage affords the possibility of new life, emotional growth and a permanent tie between generations. 

Marriage is central to God’s premiere instructions in the Ten Commandments, with three direct references (Exodus 20:12, 14 and 17:

  • Thou shalt honor thy father and mother.
  • Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

Continuity Through the Generations

Marriage is truly the glue that holds civilization together. Among other things, marriage can rapidly turn a boy into a man, as he first commits to protecting and supporting his wife, and then his children and grandchildren. Likewise, a solid marriage affords women the security in which they can thrive while maturing and giving unselfishly to their husbands, children and communities.

Grandparents, one ring ahead on the growing trunk of the family tree, provide even more richness to the family. Marriage and the family’s continuity through the generations is celebrated throughout the Bible. Here are a few illustrative verses:

  • Proverbs 17:6: Children’s children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.
  • Proverbs 20:7:  Anyone who does what is right lives without blame. Blessed are his children after him.
  • Proverbs 18:22 (NIV) says:  He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.
  • Proverbs 31: (10) Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. (11) The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.

The rest of this famous chapter exalts the industrious, godly wife and promises that:

  • (28) Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her.

In a passage in Ephesians that grates on modern sensibilities, Paul gives husbands and wives different instructions:

  • (22) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church.
  • (25) Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.

This doesn’t mean women are less valued than men, only that the sexes have different responsibilities and obligations. If women are to respect their husbands and follow their lead, the men must do their part, laying down their lives if necessary for their wives (and children) just as Jesus laid down His life for us all. The key is commitment – to God and each other.

More than Halfway

One of the most unfortunate modern beliefs is that relationships work if each spouse meets the other halfway. But the most successful marriages happen when husbands and wives each give 100 percent, not totaling up the relative exchange.  Husbands and wives must shed the habits of our contractual culture, which is obsessed with “getting mine,” “fairness,” and “looking out for No. 1.”

Grace – undeserved mercy – is at the heart of Jesus’ love for the church, and grace is what makes a good marriage work. Many a wedding includes a reading of Paul’s famous description of love in I Corinthians 13:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

God gave us marriage because He loves us and wants us to thrive.  That warm thought should help get us (especially in northern climates) through the frosty month of February – and beyond.

This article is excerpted and updated from The Truth about Marriage by Robert Knight (Fort Lauderdale: Coral Ridge Ministries, 2010).

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