The War on Marriage

Genesis 2

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
October 2014

In our last class, we looked at the creation of man and woman in Genesis 2.  We focused on what the text says.  Today, I want to do something different.  Today, we want to look at Genesis 2 differently.  Today, I want to look at Genesis 2 and look at some applications.  I want to apply how it says to one topic which has become a burning issue today, the topic of marriage.  It has been in the news for the last few weeks.  The court system has said some things about marriage.  I want to look and see what God says about marriage in Genesis 2.

The institution of marriage is currently in a state of crisis.  Marriage is in a state of decline.  Less people are getting married today compared to fifty years ago.  In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married.  Today just 51% of all adults ages 18 and older are married. Marriage is under attack in our day.  There is a war on marriage in our culture. It is under attack from the inside and from the outside.

  • Marriage is under attack by the court system.

Marriage used to be defined as a union between a man and a woman.  That was the dictionary definition.  Now it can mean a union of two persons.  The dictionaries had to be written.  Same sex marriage is now legal in North Carolina.  The definition of marriage has now changed thanks to the court system.

  • Marriage is under attack by the government.

The Federal government’s policies discourage people from being married.  There are tax penalties for being married.   ObamaCare contains not one, but two penalties on marriage—one for families with low and moderate incomes and another for families with higher incomes.

  • Marriage is under attack by personal sin

Extra-marital affairs put marriage at jeopardy.  Premarital sex puts marriage in jeopardy.  Out of wedlock birth puts marriage in jeopardy.  Many have chosen not to get married at all and just to live together.  People don’t want to get married because they feel trapped.  As someone said, “Marriage is not a word; it is a sentence – a life sentence”.  Why get married.  Weddings are too expensive.  Half of marriages end in divorce and the divorce rates for Christians are not much lower than the divorce rates for non-Christians.

  • Marriage is under attack by opponents of marriage.

Many would like to abolish marriage. It is a very popular view in some circles.  Alan Dershowitz from the Harvard Law School advocates abolishing civil marriage.  It is called marriage privatization.  The state would no longer grant marriage licenses to people.  They would just give civil unions to everyone.  If you want to get married, you could still do that in a religious setting, like a church.

That is why is very important to see what God says about marriage in Genesis 2.  Genesis 2 gives us the first marriage.  The first marriage in the garden gives us God’s blueprint for marriage.  It is the model for marriages today.  It gives us God’s instructions for marriage and God’s pattern for marriage has not changed.

It is radical.  It is counter-cultural.  It is controversial.  It is relevant.  God’s Word has a lot to say about what is going on in the world today and in society.  It speaks directly to many of the issues of our day.  It has a lot to say about marriage.  It doesn’t tell us everything but this one chapter alone tells us nine important things about marriage.

What does it tell us?  It deals with nine important topics: the importance of marriage, the origin of marriage, the reason for marriage, the value for marriage, the exclusiveness of marriage, the gender of marriage, the duration of marriage, the unity of marriage and the prerequisite of marriage.  Let’s look at each one briefly.

The Importance of Marriage

Genesis does not say that marriage is important but clearly implies. God thought it was so important He created it before anything else. Marriage existed before the family existed. Adam had a wife before he had a mother or father or kids. Marriage existed before government existed. It existed before writing existed. It existed before the church existed. It existed before sin existed. It is the oldest human institution on the planet. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It existed even BEFORE the fall of man. It is almost as old as the earth itself.

There is another reason marriage is important.  The family is the foundation of society.  It is the fundamental building block of all civilization.  When the family is messed up, society is messed up.  This is perhaps no clearer than in the African American community which has a 70% out of wedlock birth rate and that statistic comes from the Federal Government.  It is census data.  That has led to all kinds of problems in society.  If the family is the foundation of society, marriage is foundation of the family.  That makes marriage very important.

The Origin of Marriage

Marriage was created by God.  He was the one who started it.  It didn’t evolve over time.  It was created by God.  Marriage is a divine institution.  It is NOT a human institution.  It wasn’t Adam’s idea. It was not invented by man. It was not started by society.  It should be regulated by the state but it was not created by the state.  In fact, when marriage started, the state did not even exist yet.

This second point is very significant.  It tells us a few things.  There are some very important implications of this fact.

Significance of the Origin of Marriage

1) If marriage was started by man, then it could be changed by man

If man is in charge, it can be changed again. Many have redefined marriage and change the definition of marriage to mean the union of two people with same sex marriage.  If you can change it once, you can change it again.

You could eventually allow polygamous marriage or other forms of marriage.  If homosexuals can marry and heterosexuals can marry, what stops bisexuals from marrying two people?  If it can be changed to a union of two persons, why could it not be changed to a union of three or four persons?

On the other hand, if marriage was started by God, He is the only one who can   properly define or change marriage.  Jesus was asked a lot of questions about marriage. He never redefines marriage but always takes people back to God’s standard for marriage in Genesis and even quotes this passage.

2) If marriage was started by God, then He is the only one who can change it

God’s ideas are always better than our ideas.  Some people get to the point where they think that they are smarter than God.  To abolish something that God started would be not just wrong but satanic, because Satan is always doing the opposite of what God wants.  He opposes God.  That may be why Paul called this idea “demonic.”  Paul called the idea of forbidding marriage “a doctrine of demons” (I Timothy 4:1-4).

It is not only demonic, it is just plain stupid.  There was a religious cult in the 1700s called the Shakers.  They came to America from England and believed in several things.  They lived in communes and gave up all of their property.  Everything was held in common.  They separated themselves from the world.

They renounce marriage.  They did not get married or have kids.  At one point, there were Shaker communities which stretched from Kentucky to Maine. In 1840, they had six thousand members. There are only three of them left today[1]

The Reason for Marriage

Genesis 2 not only tells us who created marriage, it tells us why marriage was created.  God said, “It is not good for man to be alone”.  That was the reason Eve was created.  Man was created social being.  He was created for relationships, a relationship with God and a relationship with other people.  Adam had a relationship with God and it was still “not good”.  There was still something missing in his life.

“It is not good for man to be alone” is the general rule for humanity.  Men and women were not designed to be alone.  Most people should get married but God does not call everyone to marriage.  Jesus never got married. John the Baptist never married.

Paul never married, as far as we can tell.  In fact, the Apostle Paul said, “It is good for a man NOT to touch a woman” (I Corinthians 7:1).  Touch does not mean touch.  It does not mean that you cannot shake someone’s hand.  It is a euphemism for sex (cf. Genesis 20:6; Proverbs 6:29).

Paul is dealing with the unmarried here, not the married.  He says, “It is good for a man (not a husband) NOT to touch a woman.” His point is that singleness can be good but it is certainly not the norm for most of humanity.

The Value of Marriage

Marriage was good for Adam.  God created marriage for Adam because it was good and he needed it.  He was incomplete without it.  Marriage is often not valued in our culture.  There are all kinds of jokes which mock or belittle marriage but God created marriage.  He called it good.

God did not create marriage to bring suffering to people.  He meant it to be a blessing.  He created it to help people.  There is scientific evidence that marriage is good in a number of areas.  Many think that it may be good for men but it is bad for women but there are all kinds of studies that refute that claim.[2]

Marriage is actually good for your health.  Marriage is good medicine.  There are actually some health benefits to marriage.  Statistically, people who get married are happier, healthier and better off financially. Married men and women live longer than those who are single, divorce or widowed.  Married people live longer than single people.  They have a lower mortality rate.[3]

Married people make more money than those who are not married.  The poverty rate is higher for people who are not married.  They have a better standard of living.  You are better off financially.  They make more money, because you have two incomes instead of one. Marriage makes people happier.  It is not only good for your physical health; it is good for your mental health.

That is not to say that marriage is perfect or that there are not problems in marriage or that marriage is easy or that marriage will solve all of your problems.  Many people who are married are completely miserable, especially if you marry the wrong person.  Marriages involve hard work and a lot of forgiveness but God created them to help people, not hurt them.

The Exclusiveness of Marriage

Marriage was designed for only two people. Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”.  Notice, it says, “and be united with his WIFE” (singular), NOT “with his wives” (plural).

Polygamy is common in some Muslim countries. According to them, Adam did not really live in paradise.  Paradise for a man would have to involve polygamy.  It would be living with seventy virgins.   Adam lived in paradise.  It was a perfect paradise.  It was a paradise created by God and he only had one wife in the garden, not ten.

God was the one who started monogamy.  Man started polygamy. The first person to have more than one was Lamech.  Lamech wasn’t satisfied with having one wife, so he took two (Genesis 4:19) and that was the beginning of polygamy.  Muslims think that polygamy is the model but marriage was designed by God to be monogamousThat is the model for all marriages today.  That is why Adam had only one wife in paradise.

Pro Polygamy Arguments

Islam teaches that a man can have up to four wives if he wants.  Many who believe in polygamy use the Bible to support their position.  They give two arguments for polygamy.

1) Many people in the Bible had many wives.

Many of the saints in the OT had many wives.  The first Jew had more than one wife (Abraham).  David was a man after God’s heart and he had many wives.  Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.  Is this argument valid?  No.

The Bible does not necessarily approve of everything it records.  History is NOT normative.  Not everything recorded in the Bible is approved by the Bible.  The Bible records many bad things that people have done, even some believers, but it does NOT promote these sinful acts.

The Bible gives us a true history.  It what happened.  It records the rape of Dinah.  It records King David committing adultery and murder.  It records Noah getting drunk.  It records Lot committing incest.  It records Samson visiting prostitutes.  The historical parts of the Bible record what happened, not necessarily what should have happened.

Furthermore, if you read about King Solomon, you would know that it was his wives that led to his downfall.  He loved his pagan wives so much that he built idols to them.  If you know the story of Abraham, you know that he ended up having a relationship with Hagar because he did not trust God.

2) The Bible never calls polygamy a sin.

Is this true? No.  Some things in Scripture are condemned directly and some are condemned indirectly. Is something is sinful only if it is directly condemned in Scripture?  There is no verse in the Bible that says, “You shall not smoke pot”.  There is no verse in the Bible that says that internet pornography is sinful but in each of these cases there are clear biblical principles which forbid these activities.  Polygamy is implicitly condemned in Scripture because it is not the biblical ideal for marriage.  It goes against the pattern for marriage that God established in the garden.

The Gender of Marriage

Marriage was designed for a man and a woman.  It was designed to be heterosexual.  God designed it for a man and a woman, not two women or two men.  God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.  There is good reason for that just from pure biology.  If the first two humans were homosexual, the whole race would have died out. That would have been the end of the human race, because two men cannot reproduce.

Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”.  Notice, it does NOT say, “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his husband”.

Not only was the first marriage that God instituted between a man and a woman but every marriage in the Bible was between a man and a woman. In fact, every marriage in every country and culture for the first five thousand years of recorded human history has ALWAYS been between a man and a woman.

Homosexuality has existed for thousands of years but homosexual marriage did not exist until 2001.  Denmark became the first country to legalize same sex marriages.  It was the first time that man ever tried to change what God said about marriage.  It is the job of the state to regular marriage, not to redefine it.

The Duration of Marriage

Marriage was designed by God to be permanent. Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be UNITED to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Jesus said, “what God has joined together, LET NOT MAN SEPARATE” (Matthew 19:6) and that is a commandment.

Marriage is not just two people shacking up and sleeping together.  It is two people who make a lifelong commitment to each other.  Divorce is common in our day.  The Bible says that God HATES divorce (Malachi 2:16).  God doesn’t just say, “I don’t recommend divorce.  It’s not the best plan for your life”.  The Bible says that He HATES divorce.  The US has one of the highest divorce rates in the world.

Many today go into marriage as if it temporary.  They enter marriage with the idea that it is terminable.  They draw up prenuptial agreements to figure out how all of the couple’s money and property will be divided up if the marriage ends.  They do this before it even starts.  That is setting you up for failure from the beginning.

The Unity of Marriage

When you get married, you are no longer two separate entities.  The two become one.  There is a unity in marriage.  Marriage is the closest human relationship on the planet.  It is closer than the brother/sister relationship.  It is closer than the parent/child relationship.  A husband and wife share a lot of things.  They share the same bank account and take the same last name.  They also share the same bed.

Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become ONE FLESH”.  One flesh is a physical relationship.  It is one flesh, not one spirit.  It is not just a physical relationship; it is a sexual relationship.  It is what happens during sex.  The two become one.  Marriage was designed to be a “one flesh” relationship.

Many think that God is anti sex.  They think that he does not want people to be happy.  They think he wants to spoil all of the fun.  They think he is a heavenly killjoy.  People are trying to have some fun and God says “you can’t do this and you can’t do that”.  Here is the shocker.  God is the one who created sex.  It was not created by the adult film industry.  It wasn’t created by Hollywood.  God created it.

There’s nothing wrong with sex.  It is not sinful.  It is not dirty.  He created sex but He created it FOR MARRIAGE ONLYNotice also it says a man is to cleave to his WIFE, not his girlfriend to be ONE FLESH.

What is the evidence from Genesis that sex was created by God?

a) He created man a sexual being.

Man was not just created a social being.  He was created a sexual being.  God created people with sex organs.  He not only designed the reproductive organs but made them so that pleasure is a part of the process.  He did not have to do that but that is how God designed the human body.

b) He created Adam and Eve without clothes.

Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed (2:25).  They had no sin.  They were completely innocent and they were naked.  They were completely comfortable being naked.  They were comfortable with their bodies. They were both attractive.  They were physically perfect.  They had no flaws.

They were comfortable with seeing each other’s bodies and touching each other’s bodies.  There was no shame.   They were comfortable in their sexuality.  It is a picture of physical intimacy.  It is a picture of intimacy in other areas.  They had a completely open and transparent relationship.  They could share anything with each other.

c) God commanded them to have sex.

It was one of the first commands God gave man.  It goes all the way back to Genesis 1.  God commanded Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28) and that was before the Fall. Sex is marriage is not just allowed, it is COMMANDED. Paul says the same thing in I Corinthians 7:3-5.  Paul gives a little marriage counseling here.  He says some radical things here.

He says that the body of the husband belongs to the wife and the body of the wife belongs to the husband.  There is complete equality here.  Paul was not the male chauvinist.  He says that it is the job of the wife to meet the sexual needs of the husband and the job of the husband to meet the sexual needs of the wife.  Paul says that if you do not do this, you are stealing from your spouse.  You are robbing them.

Did Sex Begin After the Fall?

Some of the church fathers said that Adam and Eve did not have sex until after the Fall (Jerome, Irenaeus, Chrysostom).[4] Where do they get this idea?  The first time Genesis mentions Adam and Eve having sex was after the Fall.  Genesis 4:1 says, “Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Cain” (NLT)

Were the church fathers right?  No. Genesis 4:1 is NOT the first time Adam and Eve had sex.  It is the first time they had a baby.  That is an argument from silence.  Remember, Genesis is selective.  It does not tell us everything that happened.

According to some of the church fathers, we would have to believe the following things.

1) Adam lived in a paradise.
2) He lived there with only one woman.
3) She was absolutely beautiful.
4) She was naked.
5) They were married.
6) God told them to have sex. He commanded it.
7) They were both perfectly sinless.
8) They never had sex until after the Fall.

That is utterly ridiculous.  Adam was a man.  He was with a naked woman.  There was sex, especially since the woman was his wife and God commanded them to do this. The church fathers glorified singleness.  They believed that marriage was not wrong but singleness is better.  You are holier if you are single.  They glorified monasticism.  They read Genesis with a built in bias.

The Prerequisite of Marriage

Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (NIV).  Notice the two verbs here.  In order to be married you have to do two things to make a new family unit – leave and cleave.  We make several mistakes here.

  • Some NEVER leave their parents.

Some remain “momma’s boys” after they get married.  They are still tied to their parents.  They are too dependent on their parents.  The in-laws still run their life, even though they are married.

  • Some NEVER cleave to their spouse.

They are not close to their spouse or only cleave to their spouse for a while. The word “cleave” (KJV) or “be united” (NIV) means to stick together like glue.  It has the idea of something permanent, not something temporary.  The Modern Hebrew word for “glue” comes from this word.

  • Some cleave BEFORE leaving.

God said that a man is to leave his father and mother and then to cleave to someone and become one flesh.  Many reverse the order today.  They live with someone and become one flesh and then decide to get married and officially cut the knot with their parents.


[2] http://www.yale.edu/soc119a/hw4.htm cites evidence from a University of Chicago study.

[3] Catherine E. Ross, John Mirowsky, and Karen Goldsteen, “The Impact of Family on Health: Decade in Review,” Journal of  Marriage and the Family 52 (1990) 1061.

[4] John Chrysostom, for example, wrote, “After their disobedience, after their loss of the garden, then it was that the practice of intercourse had its beginning….At the outset and from the beginning, the practice of virginity was in force” (Homilies on Genesis 18.12; cf. Jerome, Against Jovinianus 1.29; Irenaeus, Against Heresies III.22.4).

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