With love shining from his eyes, the handsome groom vows, "I take you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part."
Smiling tenderly at her husband-to-be, the bride repeats the same vow. A kiss then sealed their promises to be together till death parts them. Then a few years later, they sadly parted--and not by death. Like many other married couples, their wedding vows are forgotten, replaced by bitterness and regret as they sign their divorce paper.
Why are wedding vows broken so often? How can lovers remain together and keep their promises to each other? Mainly, marriages prematurely end when lovers do not fully grasp the principles of marriage before they say, "I do." The basic marriage principles couples should understand include the purposes of marriage, the roles each partner should play, and the spiritual implication and value of marriage.
The Purpose of Marriage
The very first marriage in the history of human kind was designed and carried out by none other than our Life-Giver, Jehovah God Almighty. After creating the first man, Adam, Jehovah said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18, World English Bible) Thus, God created the first woman and brought her to Adam. Upon seeing her, Adam proclaimed, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She will be called 'woman,' because she was taken out of Man." (Genesis 2:23) Adam said this since Jehovah made the woman from Adam's rib.
Why did Jehovah make the woman from the man's rib? After all, He could have used any material or simply made her from nothing. I believe that God used the man's rib to create the woman to achieve the greatest intimacy. It is like a mother giving birth to her own child; many people agree that a mother feels more intimate with her child if she has given birth to him as opposed to adopting him. So when the woman came from the man's own body, they have that intimacy to begin with.
In the intimate union we call marriage, "a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) Here, two bodies become "one flesh," signifying spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical oneness or unity. This unity is to last till death shall part the couple, for what "God has joined together, don't let man tear apart." (Matthew 19:6) For this reason, divorce should be the option only in cases of fornication (sexual immorality, such as adultery). Note what Jesus said, "Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery." (Matthew 19:9) Physical abuse may be another cause for divorce (I Corinthians 3:17), but remarriage is forbidden in this case.
Hence, the purpose of marriage between a man and a woman is companionship and intimacy on every level. Two people who fully grasp this purpose of marriage will avoid entering into marriage for the wrong reasons.
The Roles of Marriage Partners
In any arrangement, whether it be a business, organization, or family, responsibilities and tasks can be fulfilled orderly and timely only when each person is assigned a specific role. For instance, a school principal, as the head of the school, is responsible for overseeing all activities, the teachers are responsible for teaching, and janitors are responsible for keeping the school ground clean. Working in a hierarchy ensures that things are done in an orderly manner; for example, everyone in a school knows whom to go to if problems arise: the principal.
Likewise, in marriage, the man and woman each has their own roles and responsibilities.
The man should be the head of the household, providing for the needs of his wife and children. Being the head, however, does not mean he should boss his family around, nor should he forbid his wife and children speak their mind. On the contrary, since the woman is a part of his body, the husband ought to love his her as his own body: "He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it." (Ephesians 5:28, 29)
The woman should respect her husband and be subject to him "in everything." (Ephesians 6:24) Does that mean she has to do everything her husband tells her? No, if her husband asks her to do something unlawful or immoral, she should stand her ground. In a loving marriage where the husband loves his wife as himself, she would not be forced to do something that compromises anyone.
In actuality, all people should subject themselves "to one another." (Ephesians 6:21). So husband should subject himself to his wife and children even though he is the head; this means that he should love them with a self-sacrificing love. This is called "servant leadership," where we lead by serving others and doing things in others' best interest.
Both parents should be responsible for caring for their children and bringing them up with love and discipline. But "don't provoke your children, so that they won't be discouraged." (Colossians 3:21)
The Spiritual Implication of Marriage
Marriage between a man and a woman has a significant spiritual implication; it represents the covenantal relationship between Jesus Christ and all Christians, who comprise the body of Christ. As the husband is the head of his wife, so is Christ the head of his body of Christians. The husband loves his wife as his own body, as Christ loves all Christians as himself, for he even died so all can be given an opportunity to live forever with Jehovah. And just as the wife should be faithful and subject herself to her husband, Christians should be faithful to Christ. Christians who are not loyal to Christ commit spiritual adultery.
While marriage in itself without this implication is already sacred enough, this representation gives this holy union more significance and meaning. With this in mind, if you are considering marriage, strive to value your future with your mate. If you are married, remain together with your partner and uphold the sanctity of your marriage.
How can you have the faithfulness required to keep your marriage holy? Faithfulness is a quality of the fruit of the Holy Spirit--Christ-like characteristics--therefore, ask Jehovah for faithfulness and He will abundantly and freely bless you with this gift. Then you and your mate can stick together for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do you part. Amen! (So be it!)
Dr. Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author with twenty-seven book awards, proclaimer of Jehovah God's good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, Summa Cum Laude (Highest Honor) graduate with Doctor of Divinity, motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet; author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah?"), contributor to twenty-two, and an editor of one; and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University. http://www.shirleycheng.com
Do you have questions about the Bible? Something you don't understand? Do you need a bit of guidance in developing a relationship with Jehovah? Then Shirley would like to help you! Please contact her via her site at http://www.shirleycheng.com and she would be more than glad to do her best to answer your questions! Never hesitate to ask questions, for no question about the Bible is ever too small or stupid.