#09 Jesus and the Institution of Marriage

By Dr. Stephen Phinney

"For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matt. 22:30).

“Jesus said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection’ ” (Luke 20:34-36).

“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

“Then he said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ “And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God’ ” (Rev.19:9).

Covenant Prayer

Dear Father, I know that You not only believe in the institution of marriage, but You gave it to us as a demonstration of Your Son’s marriage to the Church.  I embrace the truth that You do not allow marriages in heaven, to preserve the one and only marriage of eternity – that of Jesus and His bride.  I choose to honor marriage here on earth and keep the marriage bed undefiled.  For I know Your judgment is strong for fornicators and adulterers.  I do rejoice and am glad to give Jesus all the glory that He deserves for the design of marriage.  I understand that the marriage of the Lamb has come and we are His bride.  I pray You would show me how to ready myself as His bride.  I look forward to our marriage with Christ, as well as the marriage supper with the Lamb, our Husband.  I ask that You would assist me in preserving the institution of marriage here on earth, as well as in heaven.  I accept Your forgiveness for all the wrong thoughts and deed I have supported that defile Your design of marriage.  I claim Your healing for "staining" my virgin garments.  I thank You for helping me see the reality and importance of Your covenant marriage with us through Your Son.  These things I pray in the blessed name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Hebrews 13:4 tells us: “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”   Marriage is not only to be held in high honor by all, but its object in this passage is stating that “honor” is to be shown to marriage as an institution.  It is not to be undervalued by the presence of the higher purity state of celibacy, as if marriage were improper for any class of people or any condition of life. It should not be dishonored by any violation of the marriage contract.  This means, the “contract” established between a man and woman is a “covenant” sealed in heaven. What God joins in a union, no man or his laws can separate. Matthew 19:6 says: "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate."  When mankind devalues the marriage institution, they are subtly attacking the “marriage of the Lamb.” For God the Father gave us the institution of marriage to demonstrate, by law and relationship, what is to come with His Son.  

Take Action -Your View
  • As you reflect on your past, what has been your view of marriage? 
  • Look up Matthew 19:4-6 and state what you believe Christ is saying about marriage. 
  • What do you think polygamy and adultery have in common? 
  • Make a statement about divorce.  
  • Why do you think that God hates divorce? (Malachi 2)


The History of Marriage

Marriage was instituted in the Garden of Eden when man was in his innocence (Geneses 2:18-24).  Here we have its original contract, confirmed by our Lord, as the basis on which all laws and marital guidelines are to be framed (Matt. 19:4-5).  It is evident that monogamy (one spouse until death) was the original law of marriage (Matt. 19:5; 1 Cor. 6:16).  This law was violated very early on, when man’s problems with lust began to overflow into God’s ordinances of marriage (Gen. 4:19; 6:2).  We meet the occurrence of polygamy (two or more wives) and concubinage (a wife of secondary rank) in the patriarchal age (Gen. 16:1-4; 22:21-24).  Polygamy was recognized in the Mosaic Law, made its way into legislation, and continued to be practiced through Jewish history until their captivity to Egypt, after which there is no instance of it on record.

Why is all this significant?  The lust of our forefathers wanting plurality of wives didn’t have the option of divorce, because divorce didn’t exist.  Therefore, they instituted polygamy and concubinage in order to fulfill their appetites for trying out different women.  The leadership of that day “buckled” under the pressure of the people and legislated their lust.  Polygamy and concubinage were the entrance, or gateway, for divorce.  Shortly after the legislation of polygamy, divorce was instituted in order to keep God’s laws of monogamy.  In the eyes of our forefathers, this became the new and legal way to fulfill the lust of their hearts.  

The History of Divorce

If we don’t understand the history of divorce, we will not be able to embrace the words of Jesus when the “religious leaders” were testing Him with the laws of Moses.  Matthew 19:3, “Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’ " Jesus’ response was consistent with history. “And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE’, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate’ ” (Matthew 19:4-6).  The statement “let no man separate” is translated out as “let no man’s law separate.”  The other significant statement made here is “from the beginning.”  Jesus was not caught by their reasons for satisfying their lust. He simply went back to His Father’s design of monogamy (one wife until death).

Satan’s Purpose for Divorce

Now the big question: Why would the enemy push so hard for legislating divorce?  Another simple answer: Because if the enemy can break up the original design of “one woman + one man + one Father = one flesh,” he would then be able to ingrain into the hearts of man that just maybe, “One Father + One Son + One Spirit = One God” is a lie.  Secondly, he would be able to convince the Bride of Christ that there is a possibility Christ would forsake (divorce) them.  Divorce is the human tool used by the enemy to try to “break up” the Trinity in the hearts of man.  Divorce needs to be viewed through the eyes of God first and secondly, through history. This is man’s futile attempt to legislate lust!  God the Father ordained the institution of marriage to set in concrete (for mankind) the fundamental Truth of “One Father + One Son + One Spirit = One God.”

The Father’s View of Marriage

The charter of marriage is in Gen. 2:24, reproduced by our Lord with greater distinctness in Matt. 19:4-5.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all separate individual beings, but are One as a whole.  God the Father established the institution of marriage in the Garden to prepare the way for the original eternal design and union of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:31; Mark 10:5-9; 1Cor. 6:16; 7:2).  The point is this: A husband and wife, united in marriage, combine to form one perfect human being; the one is the complement and completer of the other. Therefore, Christ makes the Church a necessary appendage to Himself.  He is the model from whom, as the blueprint, the Church is formed (Romans 6:5).  He is her Head, as the husband is of the wife (1Cor. 11:3; 1Cor. 15:45).  Death is the tool that severs the bridegroom and the bride, but death cannot separate Christ and His bride.  Our death is what unites us to Him (Matt. 19:6; John 10:28-29; 13:1; Rom. 8:35-39).

“This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).

In this passage, the phrase "this mystery is great" is the truth - hidden once, but now revealed. Christ's spiritual union with the Church is mysteriously represented by marriage. Not marriage in general, but the marriage of Christ and the Church. In Eph. 5:30, Paul says, "For we are members of His (glorified) body, (being formed out) of His flesh and of His bones" (NKJV, parentheses added). This statement should sound a bit familiar to you. When Adam was placed in a deep sleep, the Father “formed” Eve out of his opened side, symbolizing Christ's death, which was the birth of His spouse, the Church (John 12:24; 19:34-35). As Adam gave Eve a new name ('ishshah means "woman" or "wife" - the counterpart of 'iysh, meaning "man" or "husband"), so Christ gives the Church His new name: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it' (Rev. 2:17). 


God the Father established marriage to prepare the way for His Son to be united with His bride, the Church.  Satan works to destroy the institution of marriage in order to attack the institution of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Satan cares not for you or the premise of earthly marriages.  The enemy is out to do what he does best, challenge the Oneness of the Trinity of the first family.

Next time: Jesus Betrothed

Scriptures marked NASB are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scriptures marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.