Major Texts: Gen 2:18-25, Mark 10:7-9, Eph 5:22-25, Matt 5:27-30, 2 Cor 3:18
One of the notable things that emerges from the creation account in Genesis, something that is and has been ubiquitous in human experience, is marriage. It is to this that we turn our attention this week.
The biblical account of the first marriage is very well-known, how, after creation was all but over, and after everything had been pronounced "good," a single and very obvious exception was noted - "It is not good for man to be alone." This observation provides the precipitating cause and explanation for marriage, at least from a biblical perspective.
Profitable discussion may be had using the following items:
What would it mean that "man should not be alone?" What does this imply about humans? What does it imply about marriage?
Notice the difference between the way God made Adam (formed from the dust) and then the way he made Eve (formed from a rib taken from Adam). What do you think the significance of this might be?
The English word "helpmeet" is fascinating because it Is a derivative of the word "helpmate" which is a derivative of two words, "help" and "meet." It is quite interesting to note that, in KJV English, the word "meet" means "suitable," or "fitting." With this in mind, how would you understand the story now? In KJV English, God was not making a little helper for Adam. He was making a fully-fledged companion, every bit his equal, with whom he could share the business of living. This realization is reflected in Adam's joyous reaction to his first meeting of Eve.
What do you make of the statement that "therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife?" In a patriarchal setting, a man does not leave his family of origin. Rather, the woman leaves her family to come live with her husband's family.
Consider the many possible models of marriage that can be seen in human experience - the patriarchal system, a brittle social contract, 50/50 marriage, marriage as a magical matching, hierarchical marriage, polygamous marriage, open marriage, marriage as a civil right, marriage as a wedding ceremony, marriage as a covenant, to name a few possible ideas. What do you think the "biblical" model for marriage is? Is there such a thing as "biblical marriage?"
Marriage, as it is found in early Genesis, was given for the benefit of human kind. Why do you think it has become so difficult a thing to do well? Is that the fault of marriage, or is it the fault of current understandings of marriage?
The Bible clearly indicates that sex is to be indulged only by those who are married, at least if it is to approach the ideal. The reason why marriage has been the boundary for sexual activity Is that marriage is the only institution known that protects BOTH purposes for sex, namely to create a close bond between two humans, and to allow for procreation. These two items have only been separated quite recently, primarily after the invention of the pill.
In the adult quarterly, the writer (or Editor?), when referring to the Ephesians 5 passage on marriage, began the section with v. 22. What happens if the discussion begins with v. 21? Certainly, beginning with v. 21 makes the marriage passage into an example of deferential reciprocity between humans because of love for God. This is quite a different view than one would get if one began with the submission passage.
Can companionship really grow between people who are not equals? What happens if two people in marriage are not perceived to be of equal value or status? If marriage involves companionship, think about what abuse within marriage does to that dynamic!
Would you agree that marriage as covenant Is the ideal of Scripture? If so, would it not be true that whatever either party to a marriage does to diminish the power or effect of the covenant, is, to some extent, a breaching of that covenant? Consider what working at two jobs would do to a marriage?
Marriage, according to Genesis, is built on severance (a man shall leave), and it requires permanence (a man shall cleave) if it is to prosper. What message does that have for parents or siblings once a person is married?
In many places, particularly in the OT, God uses marriage as an illustration or analogy of his relationship to His people. Why do you think God chose this analogy?
If marriage is a process that unfolds over time by way of which two people grow toward each other through the circumstances of life, and, by doing so, grow intimacy and understanding, what might be said about divorce and the damage it does?
Someone once said, "We are not punished for our sins so much as we are punished by our sins!" Do you see any ways this might be applied to a marriage?
If marriage is a process that unfolds over a whole life-time, think about what we are doing to people and to our society by making divorce so easy!
What occasions/scenarios can you come up with that would be reason, in your mind, to dissolve a marriage without applying some kind of penalty to the person who left?