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Lesson 9: Marriage: A Gift From Eden *

Introduction: Have you wondered why Satan approached Eve when he sought to drag humanity into sin? Genesis 3:6 says that Adam was "with" Eve, but it does not say exactly when he arrived. The fact that God tells Adam that his sin was to "listen to your wife" ( Genesis 3:17), as opposed to listening to Satan, makes it clear to me that Adam was not present when Satan tempted Eve. What should we conclude? The original sin included, as a crucial part, an attack on marriage! The assault has not stopped. Today, we have a serious conflict between the secular morality of equality of ideas and marriage. We also have an unprecedented number of adults who never married, and we have terrible divorce statistics. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what God has to teach us about marriage!

  1. Marriage Ideal

    1. Read Genesis 1:28-29 and Genesis 2:15-18. What are the topics of the first instructions given to humans by God? (Delegated authority, diet, work, sin and marriage.)

      1. What should we conclude from this? (The first recorded instructions from God probably cover the things He thought to be most important for humans.)

        1. How many of these are under attack today? (Evolution denies both our authority and the delegation. At least in America, our diet seems out of control for a substantial part of the population. Our work ethic is dropping. Marriage is taking a beating. Sin is rampant.)

    2. Let's focus on Genesis 2:18. What does God say about Adam being single? (It is "not good.")

      1. In the United States, more people are never marrying. God says that is "not good." What have you observed on the issue of whether marriage is good for a person?

    3. Read Mark 10:4-9. What does Jesus teach about marriage and divorce?

      1. Notice the authority that Jesus uses for His teaching. Is Genesis authoritative for us today when we discuss marriage issues? (This is extremely important. Jesus did not consider the creation account of Adam and Eve mere history (or, worse, allegory), He thought it authoritative on the theological issue of marriage.)

    4. Read Ephesians 5:28. What does this teach us about the marriage ideal? (In my old age I can certainly attest to the truth of this statement.)

  2. Marriage Alternatives

    1. Read Genesis 4:17-19. What two important facts do we know about Lamech? (He was in the line of descendants of Cain, and he is the first in the Bible to have two wives.)

      1. If the Genesis account of a man and a woman becoming "one flesh" is authoritative on marriage, what should we conclude here? (Lamech was outside God's will. However, being the descendent of Cain gives us an insight as to why this happened.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 7:32-34. Does Paul need remedial lessons in Genesis? Did he miss the "not good" statement of God? (Read 1 Corinthians 7:25-28. First, Paul says he is not speaking on behalf of God. Second, he points out what he sees as the practical disadvantages of being married.)

      1. Paul says that marriage brings "troubles." I see these troubles as issues about sharing and children. Are these good or bad "troubles?" (Sharing improves our character. Children give us an insight into our Lord like nothing else in life. When God said in Genesis that being single was "not good," I think God was speaking of some of the most basic issues of life. Marriage and children may be a test, but they also bring character development and great joy.)

      2. If you have children, how would your life be different without them?

    3. Look again at 1 Corinthians 7:26. What does Paul say is the motivation for his advice? (The present crisis. He is not giving advice from God, and he is not giving advice for all times. He says in times of crisis Christians might reasonably deviate from the ideal.)

    4. Read Matthew 19:10. How did the disciples take Jesus' instructions on marriage and divorce? (Not well! They concluded that if marriage was for life, they would be better not to marry.)

    5. Read Matthew 19:11. This follows Jesus' instructions on marriage and divorce. To whom have the instructions on marriage been given? (Not everyone. Jesus apparently allows for exceptions, just as Moses allowed for exceptions.)

      1. Read Matthew 19:12. Who are the exceptional people to whom the marriage instructions are not given? (1. People who were born unable to consummate a marriage. 2.People who, because of circumstances, are unable to consummate a marriage. 3. Those who have put the Kingdom of Heaven first.)

      2. Read Romans 1:26-27. This text is similar to Leviticus 20:13. In today's secular morality, treating everyone and every idea as equal is the substitute for Biblical rules on morality. One of the arguments is that some are born with a predisposition to same gender attraction. I have noticed that male children subjected to same-sex sexual abuse sometimes grow up to be homosexuals. Assuming that you can be born homosexual or shoved in that direction by abuse, how would we apply Jesus' counsel in Matthew 19:11-12? (Jesus says an exception to the marriage ideal is for those who, because of no fault of their own, are not fitted for marriage between a man and woman.)

      3. Look again at the last phrase in Matthew 19:11. Does Jesus create a fourth exception? (Between Jesus' "Moses permitted ... divorce ... because your hearts were hard" and this statement, it seems that God gives humans some wiggle-room to deviate from His ideal. But, it is not His plan.)

    6. My circle of friends seems to always include some women who very much want to be married, but cannot find the "right" guy. Should they get married anyway? (The tenor of 1 Corinthians 7 is that these woman have a great deal of flexibility on what to do about their situation.)

    7. Read Jeremiah 16:9. Is this yet another exception? (Read Jeremiah 16:10-11. Jeremiah predicts a breakdown in marriage when people forsake God. I'm reading a book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray, which points to the continuing breakdown in marriage in certain segments of the American society. Murray argues that this is creating a "class" division in America in a way that never previously existed! The marriage ideal is important not simply to the couple, but to society as a whole!)

  3. Marriage Analogy

    1. Read Isaiah 54:5-6. If we face less than an ideal situation in marriage, what special promise does God make? (That He will be our companion. He will be our spouse.)

    2. Read Ephesians 5:25-27. What other analogy to marriage do we find here? (That Jesus is to the church as husbands should be to their wives.)

      1. What does this say that Jesus did for the church? (He gave Himself up for it.)

      2. Is this good advice for husbands? (It is the best advice. Selfishness is in the heart of all of us, and it is the foundation for infidelity. If a husband determines to put his wife first, he will create a barrier to infidelity and will in the end "love himself" ( Ephesians 5:28)

        1. Is this just good advice for husbands? (Since Jesus was a man, this seems to force the analogy. I think the advice applies to both husband and wife.)

        2. How many marriages fail because of selfishness?

    3. Read Ephesians 5:31-33. What is the mystery? (Perhaps it depends on your experience. If you understand the love of God, then that helps you to understand what God had in mind for marriage. If you have a great marriage, then that helps you to understand God's love for His people. The two help explain each other - and this is another reason why a happy marriage between one man and one woman are God's ideal from the beginning of time!)

    4. Friend, if your marriage is not ideal, if you are unhappy, will you determine today to pour an unselfish spirit into your marriage? Will you determine today to give up yourself and your selfish desires to improve your relationship with your spouse? God promises that by doing this, you will, in the end, be loving yourself!

  4. Next week: Stewardship and the Environment.
* Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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