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The Bible contains relatively few direct commands about the day-to-day living of a godly marriage. This makes it hard to “grab the Book and look it up.” However, marriage, and what God intended it to be, is an often-present “undercurrent” throughout the Word. A clear understanding requires a solid Bible foundation; just one more good reason to have daily time in the Word. What follows is based on our understanding of the scriptures, twenty-seven years of trying to live by them, and countless discussions with other married couples and those who minister to them.
God intended for most people to be married. In the beginning, He proclaimed, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen 2:18) While the Bible says that some are “eunuchs of God” (Mat 19:12) to better serve Him, this is a rarity (someone once called celibacy the gift no one wants!). Those whom the Lord designed to be married can better serve Him married than single. Let us repeat – if God made you to be married, you are of more use to Him if you are married.
God’s command to us about marriage is to leave, cleave, and become one. (Gen 2:24, Mat 19:5, and Mark 10:7) God calls us to:
Separate from our parents, both physically and emotionally.
Join together physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Become one before Him.
Once a couple is married, it becomes God’s will for them to have a solid, godly marriage. Even if “the marriage was a mistake,” it is God’s will that no man or woman should “separate what God has joined together.” (Mat 19:6) If both the husband and wife will commit to the Lord, He can create a wonderful marriage out of any mess they might make.
God did not create sex for procreation only. God designed our bodies, minds and emotions so that sex could, and should, include:
Intense physical pleasure beyond anything else we can experience.
Deep emotional interaction and connection that continues after sex is over.
A spiritual union. We may or may not feel it, and we can’t fully understand it.
We believe that God gave us stewardship over each other’s sexuality. Understanding this is extremely important to having a happy marriage, and virtually required to avoid sexual tension and stress. This belief was the cornerstone for the healing and rebuilding of the sexual part of our relationship. See Sexual Stewardship.
God gives us great sexual liberty within the marriage union. Sinful practices must be avoided, but few things are completely excluded. God is concerned with the heart. What is fine for one couple could be bad for another due to the reason for the desire, or because one person thinks it is a sin. (For more, see What is Okay, What is not?)
Sex is more than a bonus in marriage; sex is a vital part of a healthy marriage. There are seasons of life when sex is difficult and limited, but maintaining a solid sex life is critical. The couple that drifts apart sexually drifts apart in other ways as well. A lack of sex is a warning that the marriage is in trouble!
Heb. 13:4 (Amp) states “Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed, worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things. And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste [all guilty of sexual vice] and adulterous.” Based on this verse, we believe:
Marriage should be upheld and protected by the church.
Sex is holy and right within marriage.
It is possible to engage in marital sex in a way not pleasing to God.
Adultery is not the only sexual sin we can commit against our spouse. (See My Spouse Won’t have Sex and Why Porn is a Problem)
Throughout the Bible, God uses the marriage relationship to explain His relationship with us. Because the modern church seems to understand our relationship with the Lord better than His will for marriage, we can reverse the comparison to learn about marriage.
While divorce is allowed in the case of sexual sin, and sometimes necessary due to abuse, it is neither required nor encouraged. The hardness of a spouse’s heart may eventually leave no real choice, but we must make every effort to heal a damaged marriage. Because God has given us free will, some spouses will never choose to be part of a Godly union. We have no power over the free will of another, and God will not violate our spouse’s free will no matter how much we pray. If an unbelieving spouse leaves, the believing spouse is not under bondage. (1 Cor 7:15)
We are convinced that God is able to create a wonderful marriage for any two Christians who give themselves to Him. God is no respecter of persons; what He has done for us, what He has done for some many others, He can, and will, do for you!
Paul & Lori Byerly