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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- Marriage Ideal
- 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.)
- What should we conclude from this? (The first
recorded instructions from God probably cover the
things He thought to be most important for humans.)
- 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.)
- Let's focus on Genesis 2:18. What does God say about Adam
being single? (It is "not good.")
- 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
- Read Mark 10:4-9. What does Jesus teach about marriage and
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Marriage Alternatives
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- If you have children, how would your life be
different without them?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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!)
- Marriage Analogy
- 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.)
- 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.)
- What does this say that Jesus did for the church? (He
gave Himself up for it.)
- 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)
- 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.)
- How many marriages fail because of selfishness?
- 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!)
- 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!
- 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.