Introduction: Have you wondered why Satan approached Eve when he
sought to drag humanity into sin? Genesis 3:6 says that Adam was
“with” Eve, but it does not say exactly when he arrived. The fact
that God tells Adam that his sin was to “listen to your wife”
( Genesis 3:17), as opposed to listening to Satan, makes it clear to
me that Adam was not present when Satan tempted Eve. What should we
conclude? The original sin included, as a crucial part, an attack on
marriage! The assault has not stopped. Today, we have a serious
conflict between the secular morality of equality of ideas and
marriage. We also have an unprecedented number of adults who never
married, and we have terrible divorce statistics. Let’s jump into our
study of the Bible and see what God has to teach us about marriage!

  1. Marriage Ideal

    1. Read Genesis 1:28-29 and Genesis 2:15-18. What are the
      topics of the first instructions given to humans by God?
      (Delegated authority, diet, work, sin and marriage.)

      1. What should we conclude from this? (The first
        recorded instructions from God probably cover the
        things He thought to be most important for humans.)

        1. How many of these are under attack today?
          (Evolution denies both our authority and the
          delegation. At least in America, our diet seems
          out of control for a substantial part of the
          population. Our work ethic is dropping.
          Marriage is taking a beating. Sin is rampant.)

    2. Let’s focus on Genesis 2:18. What does God say about Adam
      being single? (It is “not good.”)

      1. In the United States, more people are never marrying.
        God says that is “not good.” What have you observed
        on the issue of whether marriage is good for a

    3. Read Mark 10:4-9. What does Jesus teach about marriage and

      1. Notice the authority that Jesus uses for His
        teaching. Is Genesis authoritative for us today when
        we discuss marriage issues? (This is extremely
        important. Jesus did not consider the creation
        account of Adam and Eve mere history (or, worse,
        allegory), He thought it authoritative on the
        theological issue of marriage.)

    4. Read Ephesians 5:28. What does this teach us about the
      marriage ideal? (In my old age I can certainly attest to
      the truth of this statement.)

  2. Marriage Alternatives

    1. Read Genesis 4:17-19. What two important facts do we know
      about Lamech? (He was in the line of descendants of Cain,
      and he is the first in the Bible to have two wives.)

      1. If the Genesis account of a man and a woman becoming
        “one flesh” is authoritative on marriage, what should
        we conclude here? (Lamech was outside God’s will.
        However, being the descendent of Cain gives us an
        insight as to why this happened.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 7:32-34. Does Paul need remedial
      lessons in Genesis? Did he miss the “not good” statement
      of God? (Read 1 Corinthians 7:25-28. First, Paul says he
      is not speaking on behalf of God. Second, he points out
      what he sees as the practical disadvantages of being

      1. Paul says that marriage brings “troubles.” I see
        these troubles as issues about sharing and children.
        Are these good or bad “troubles?” (Sharing improves
        our character. Children give us an insight into our
        Lord like nothing else in life. When God said in
        Genesis that being single was “not good,” I think God
        was speaking of some of the most basic issues of
        life. Marriage and children may be a test, but they
        also bring character development and great joy.)

      2. If you have children, how would your life be
        different without them?

    3. Look again at 1 Corinthians 7:26. What does Paul say is
      the motivation for his advice? (The present crisis. He is
      not giving advice from God, and he is not giving advice
      for all times. He says in times of crisis Christians
      might reasonably deviate from the ideal.)

    4. Read Matthew 19:10. How did the disciples take Jesus’
      instructions on marriage and divorce? (Not well! They
      concluded that if marriage was for life, they would be
      better not to marry.)

    5. Read Matthew 19:11. This follows Jesus’ instructions on
      marriage and divorce. To whom have the instructions on
      marriage been given? (Not everyone. Jesus apparently
      allows for exceptions, just as Moses allowed for

      1. Read Matthew 19:12. Who are the exceptional people to
        whom the marriage instructions are not given? (1.
        People who were born unable to consummate a marriage.
        2.People who, because of circumstances, are unable to
        consummate a marriage. 3. Those who have put the
        Kingdom of Heaven first.)

      2. Read Romans 1:26-27. This text is similar to
        Leviticus 20:13. In today’s secular morality,
        treating everyone and every idea as equal is the
        substitute for Biblical rules on morality. One of the
        arguments is that some are born with a predisposition
        to same gender attraction. I have noticed that male
        children subjected to same-sex sexual abuse sometimes
        grow up to be homosexuals. Assuming that you can be
        born homosexual or shoved in that direction by abuse,
        how would we apply Jesus’ counsel in Matthew 19:11-12? (Jesus says an exception to the marriage ideal is
        for those who, because of no fault of their own, are
        not fitted for marriage between a man and woman.)

      3. Look again at the last phrase in Matthew 19:11. Does
        Jesus create a fourth exception? (Between Jesus’
        “Moses permitted … divorce … because your hearts
        were hard” and this statement, it seems that God
        gives humans some wiggle-room to deviate from His
        ideal. But, it is not His plan.)

    6. My circle of friends seems to always include some women
      who very much want to be married, but cannot find the
      “right” guy. Should they get married anyway? (The tenor of
      1 Corinthians 7 is that these woman have a great deal of
      flexibility on what to do about their situation.)

    7. Read Jeremiah 16:9. Is this yet another exception? (Read
      Jeremiah 16:10-11. Jeremiah predicts a breakdown in
      marriage when people forsake God. I’m reading a book,
      Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by
      Charles Murray, which points to the continuing breakdown
      in marriage in certain segments of the American society.
      Murray argues that this is creating a “class” division in
      America in a way that never previously existed! The
      marriage ideal is important not simply to the couple, but
      to society as a whole!)

  3. Marriage Analogy

    1. Read Isaiah 54:5-6. If we face less than an ideal
      situation in marriage, what special promise does God make?
      (That He will be our companion. He will be our spouse.)

    2. Read Ephesians 5:25-27. What other analogy to marriage do
      we find here? (That Jesus is to the church as husbands
      should be to their wives.)

      1. What does this say that Jesus did for the church? (He
        gave Himself up for it.)

      2. Is this good advice for husbands? (It is the best
        advice. Selfishness is in the heart of all of us, and
        it is the foundation for infidelity. If a husband
        determines to put his wife first, he will create a
        barrier to infidelity and will in the end “love
        himself” ( Ephesians 5:28)

        1. Is this just good advice for husbands? (Since
          Jesus was a man, this seems to force the
          analogy. I think the advice applies to both
          husband and wife.)

        2. How many marriages fail because of selfishness?

    3. Read Ephesians 5:31-33. What is the mystery? (Perhaps it
      depends on your experience. If you understand the love of
      God, then that helps you to understand what God had in
      mind for marriage. If you have a great marriage, then that
      helps you to understand God’s love for His people. The two
      help explain each other – and this is another reason why a
      happy marriage between one man and one woman are God’s
      ideal from the beginning of time!)

    4. Friend, if your marriage is not ideal, if you are unhappy,
      will you determine today to pour an unselfish spirit into
      your marriage? Will you determine today to give up
      yourself and your selfish desires to improve your
      relationship with your spouse? God promises that by doing
      this, you will, in the end, be loving yourself!

  4. Next week: Stewardship and the Environment.