Saturday, March 02, 2013

Marriage: A Gift From Eden

Marriage: A Gift From Eden

 “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him’ ” (Genesis 2:18).

In the previous 8 lessons we studied different aspects of Creation and the Fall.  It is clear that all was affected.  Before the fall all was perfect and pure, and after the fall all became tainted with Sin and its consequences.  In the next three lessons we study more intangible things of creation: marriage, stewardship and the Sabbath.  These were instituted before the fall, and therefore were affected by the fall also; at least our relationship to them.  So, like all the tangible things, there is also a contrast with the intangible things, and these also need redeeming.

This week we study marriage.  Let us start with Ellen G. White's quote from Sabbath,

 “God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has for its originator the Creator of the universe. ‘Marriage is honorable’ (Hebrews 13:4); it was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the Fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine principles are recog­nized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man’s social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.”—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46.

So, out of a primeval abyss God created our world through the supernat­ural power of His Word. All through the Creation account, everything was “good” until the work was completed, at which point everything the Lord had created was pronounced “very good” (Gen. 1:31).  In the midst of all this, however, one thing was lo tov, “not good.”  We Read in Genesis 2:18, 20 “…for Adam there was not found an help meet for him,” so “… the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”   This was by no means an accident.  God designed it that way to make sure Adam desired a companion and was grateful to get one.  It was through marriage that Adam would understand agape: self-denying; other centered love.  You have heard the expression: love is not love until you give it away.  Adam could not agape unless he had someone to whom give love.  Before the existence of Eve, Adam was the only human. Although he was made in the image of God, in his aloneness he could not reflect the full image of God, who exists in relationship with other parts of the Godhead. The Godhead, of course, is composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, Adam needed someone like himself with whom he could form a relationship of mutual love and cooperation, reflecting the loving relationship exemplified within the Godhead.  

What about after the fall?  What does marriage represent?  We read from Ephesians 5: 22 - 25

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

We see two messages in this text.  The first one is about how spouses should love each other.  The husband is not called to rule his wife but to love her as Christ loves the church. Christ loves the church with self-emptying, self-sacrificial love. Instead of using His divinity to lord His authority over the church, He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7, ESV). For Paul, Philippians 2 is a code of ethics for Christian behavior. In marriage, then, just as Christ emptied Himself of His divine rights and privileges to self-sacrificially serve us, so the husband is called to do the same with his wife. Her needs and well-being should be more important to him than his own privileges and conveniences.  This is the kind of husband to whom a wife can safely submit! God’s ideal is that both parties submit to each other but in differing ways. When properly practiced, this post-Fall ordinance makes marriage a blessing to both.   

With that said, we come to the second message.  We let Ellen White explain this point to us.  She says,

“In both the Old and the New Testament, the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people. To the mind of Jesus the gladness of the wedding festivities pointed forward to the rejoicing of that day when He shall bring home His bride to the Father’s house, and the redeemed with the Redeemer shall sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 151.

God invites His people to join with Him in an intimate relationship. This is an amaz­ing picture of God’s interest in His people and His desire to bring us into His fellowship.  Will we accept His invitation?