Shelby G. Floyd
With the marriage today of Harry and Meagan so visible to the whole world, it is a good time to study the marriage relationship as designed by God in the beginning. The following sermon was presented in 1976, but the truth therein proclaimed is just as true today!
How many of you have bought some toys for your child, a bicycle, or some kind of appliance that you have to put together? I’m sure that your experience has been the same as mine, that when you get about halfway through assembling it, somehow or other, it just didn’t fit together. You couldn’t find all the parts, or this part didn’t look like it would work, so finally you would open up the box and pull out a piece of paper that would read, “Please read the instructions first.” So you would go back, tear it all down, and start and take it step-by-step, and it would go together according to the instructions. Well, I want to use that as an illustration of what people need to do today concerning the institution of marriage.
THE BREAKING UP OF THE HOME
I have read recently the statistics concerning the breakdown of the homes in America. In some states there are as many homes breaking up each year, as there are people who apply for marriage license. There are as many homes breaking up, as there are new homes that are started each year. In the so-called “Bible Belt,” which would include some Midwestern states, and some of the Southern states, the statistics on the breakup of the home are actually worse than they are elsewhere. Michigan had the best ratio. There were twice as many marriages in Michigan as there were homes breaking up. Pennsylvania, as I recall had the next best record. But in the so-called “Bible Belt,” the homes are breaking up at a faster rate than they are in some of the states that are considered outside the “Bible Belt.”
Somewhere along the line, there has been a failure to emphasize the sanctity of the home. Man’s tendency has always been to rebel against God will, and man exhibits this tendency in regard to the home by disregarding God’s instructions concerning the home. This is seen from the case today that many people are living as husband and wife when they are actually not husband and wife. Or many people are living as husband and wife when they have no right to live in that relationship in the sight of God. Then on the other hand, there are people, who are not living in that relationship, but they look upon it with approval, and that is a sad state of affairs.
THE NEED FOR MORE TEACHING ON THE HOME
Today, we need to preach more on the home, because it is the basic unit of our society. It is the basic unit of law and order, when the home breaks down, then society breaks down. Today, when we preach on the home, it is not because preachers are against the home. I’m preaching on the home because I want to exalt the home, and marriage, as God ordained it to be in the first place. When we preach upon the home it is because we want a husband and wife to learn to live together, cooperate and conduct them selves so they will be able to spend eternity with God in heaven.
In the third place, we preach upon the home because it is the perfect place that God has ordained for children to be brought into the world and to be reared to maturity. There is no better arrangement that has been found to bring children into the world, and rear them to be adults, than a home as God planned for it to be.
THE FUNDAMENTAL AND SUPPLEMENTAL LAWS OF MARRIAGE
Our lesson will really center upon marriage as God intended it to be in the beginning. I would point out right here that marriage, as God intended for it to be in the beginning is what we call the fundamental laws of marriage. But God gave additional information, regulations and laws concerning marriage after he gave it in the beginning. Why? The reason is very simple. When sin entered into the world, it required that God give some additional laws concerning marriage. Had sin never entered into the world, there would have been no need for God to have given any additional instruction on marriage. But the very fact that he gave additional instructions on marriage is because sin entered into the picture. So we call these laws supplementary laws.
We have our basic laws concerning marriage, and then we have the supplementary laws. The laws are supplementary because of sin. The basic laws are found in Genesis, chapters 1 and 2, before sin entered into the world. So now we want to look at marriage as God gave it in the beginning, because Jesus tells us in Matthew 19, that he came to restore the original laws concerning marriage.
MARRIAGE IN THE BEGINNING
In the first place, we notice in Genesis 2: 18, “and the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” God created man in such a way, that generally speaking it is not good for man to be alone. That’s the reason that most people marry when they become adults. But this is not to say that a person cannot live a faithful Christian life without being married. There are some people that are born eunuchs. There are some people that are made eunuchs by men, and there are some people that metaphorically make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Compare Matthew 19: 10-12).
It seems that the apostle Paul never was married because his attention was all consumed upon advancing the kingdom of God. Paul is a good example that a man can live a great Christian life, and be a great servant of God without ever marrying.
So a person can live a faithful Christian life without ever marrying, but still the general idea is that it is not good for man to be alone. God saw that in the beginning. If it had been good for man to be alone, then God would have never made a companion for him in the first place. God says, “It is not good that man should be alone,” and “I will make him a helper appropriate for him.”
GOD MADE MAN A HELPER
Now the word help there means that God was going to make somebody that would be a companion, somebody that would assist man, somebody that would cooperate with him, and this helper would be suitable for him. I used to think that the word helpmeet was one word, but it is not. God said, “I will make him a helper meet for him.” The word “meet” means answerable to his nature, in keeping with his nature. So God was going to make a companion that would be suitable, or meet, or answerable to man’s nature and purpose for being put upon earth.
Notice in Genesis 2: 19-20, “and out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”
Now young people, today the modern theory of evolution has been received in every institution of higher learning right on down to the grade schools and the elementary schools of our land. The theory is that man has evolved either from some kind of a simple cell of protoplasm or from the animal kingdom. So in the theory of Darwin, and others who followed, man is nothing more than a graduate beast. But this cannot be true and the book of Genesis is true at the same time.
Notice here that God created all of these animals and Adam gave names to them. That means that he gave the genuses and the species of the fauna and flora world, the flowers, the plants and the animals. But the Bible says out of all these things that God created, there was not found help meet for him. Now if Adam had simply evolved from the animal kingdom, why wouldn’t there be some of these animals that would be appropriate to be his companion? Well, the answer is very simple. God created the animal kingdom, and he created man, and they are different. Man is made in the image of God, and that is not predicated of the animal kingdom.
No doubt, God brought all of these animals before Adam and had him to name them in order to create within Adam’s heart a sense of loneliness and a sense of need. After all, here were the cattle and they had their companions, and here were all the rest of the creatures and there was the male and female, but Adam was by himself, he didn’t have a companion. This would cause him to want a companion like all these other beings that God created. So this brings us to the next step in the origin and sanctity of the home. “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man (Genesis 2: 21-22).
Now notice, if man evolved from the animal kingdom, from where did the woman evolve? Did she evolve from the man? According to the Bible they stand side-by-side, having come into being almost precisely at the same time. No, she didn’t evolve, man didn’t evolve, God created the man, and then he made the woman out of Adam’s rib—side.
THE MARRIAGE OF ADAM AND EVE
The Bible tells us that after God made this woman, he then brought her to the man. Now I get the idea that God performed the very first marriage ceremony. What does it take to make a marriage? Well, I can think of at least three elements today. It takes the desire on the part of a man and a woman to want to come together, and live together, as companions the rest of their lives. No one should be married unless they want to be married. So the desire to be husband and wife is the first element. The second element of marriage is that in all civilized countries, it is required that a marriage license be obtained from the powers that be. In other words, from the civil rulers it is required that a couple obtains a marriage license, and that they make whatever preliminary requirements the state requires. Even in the kingdom of Israel, it was required by the Law of Moses that there be a bill of divorcement, so evidently, there must have been a covenant of marriage kept by the judges and civil rulers of that ancient people. (Deuteronomy 24: 1-4; Malachi 2: 14.) So it is in all civilized countries today. In the third place, the husband and wife must consummate that marriage by actually living together as husband and wife.
So marriage is looked upon in the Bible as a covenant. A covenant is an agreement or contract. In Malachi, chapter 2, the Bible talks about the covenant of marriage. God gave the first covenant of marriage. So when we make a covenant, or an agreement before God, we ought to keep our word. And if there were no other reason for a husband and wife staying faithful to each other, it ought to be because they have made a solemn agreement, or covenant, before God to be faithful to each other until death separates that relationship. Notice that when God brought Eve, and presented her to the man as his wife, Adam said, “This is now bones of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she should be called woman, because she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2: 23).
THE HUSBAND WIFE RELATIONSHIP
The Bible teaches that man is the head of the woman (1 Corinthians 11: 3). Now I know today that we say that man is the head of the woman, but that the woman is the neck that turns the head however she wants to. Today, there is also the modern women’s liberation movement; and there is the movement in various states of our nation to come up with equal rights amendments. But after all is said and done, the Bible still teaches that man is to be the head of the woman (Ephesians 5:22-24). This doesn’t mean that man should disregard the woman’s views, but it does mean that God has ordained that man should rule in the household. And when that is disregarded, or disobeyed, then God’s laws are disobeyed.
No one can disobey God’s law in any realm without suffering the consequences. Today, the homes are being broken up simply because God’s laws concerning the home are being disregarded, rejected and disobeyed. Adam said, “She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of the man (Genesis 2: 23). You know, woman owes her origin to the man, because the first woman was taken out of the man. However, man has not too much room to glory, because after God created the first man, every man that was brought into this world thereafter had to come through the agency of the woman (1 Corinthians 11: 12).
Woman was instrumental in the fall of man. Eve, by her sin and disobedience, brought shame and disgrace upon the family of man; but through woman, salvation was brought into this world, because it was by woman that the Christ child came into our world and lived and died for us. So the woman has redeemed herself, to some extent, by being the agency for bringing Christ, the savior, into the world (1 Timothy 2: 14-15).
Notice, Adam said, “She shall be called woman,” and so the very word woman honors the man, because you cannot say woman without saying man. That is the true design of marriage. The woman is to honor and complement her husband, and when she does that, she honors and glorifies God.
And observe in the next place, in Genesis 2: 24, (I do not believe this is a comment of Adam, I believe Adams statement is concluded in verse 23) we have a statement given by inspiration, through the prophet Moses, who wrote Genesis and the first books of the Old Testament, explanatory of the original institution of marriage, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
LEAVING AND CLEAVING
I know this is a generic statement concerning marriage because Adam did not have a father and a mother to leave. Adam didn’t ever have a father and mother. God was his father. So this is a general statement that was drawn from the institution of marriage: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2: 24).
We notice here that marriage is for the mature. Often, young men and young ladies get married too young. They’re not ready to leave their fathers and mothers. If you want to marry, you had better be ready to leave your father and your mother, and you had better be ready to assume your responsibilities. When you get ready to marry, you can’t let mom and dad support your home. Marriage is for those who are mature enough to leave mom and dad.
In the second place, marriage is for those who will cleave to their wife. A leaving and a cleaving must take place in marriage. The word cleave, means to glue or bond. The reason marriages today are not surviving is because the husbands and the wives are not adhering to each other. They are not cleaving to each other until death separates them. Then scripture says, “They shall be one flesh.” I do believe Moses meant that in marriage they are one flesh by their cohabitation, and by the fact that they both produce an offspring. But, marriage is more than that my friends.
The words one flesh here means that in marriage there must be an affinity of spirit. If the marriage is to continue and survive, there must be a conjoining of spirits and love and affection, and not just some kind of animal attraction. Those marriages that survive 50 or 60 years, or more, do so because there has been an affinity of spirits between the husband and wife. They have grown into almost one personality, because they have a kindred spirit in serving God and in serving their homes.
We ought to try to make our homes like God intended for them to be in the beginning.*
*Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon December 19, 1976 at the Garfield Heights Church of Christ, 2842 Shelby Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. At this time I was thirty-nine years of age.
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