December 22, 2024

Marriage Is An Institution Ordained By God

"It becomes a people publicly to acknowledge the over-ruling hand of Divine Providence and their dependence upon the Supreme Being as their Creator and Merciful Preserver . . . and with becoming humility and sincere repentance to supplicate the pardon that we may obtain forgiveness through the merits and mediation of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ"[1]
Daily Reading : 1 PETER
TEXT : 1 Peter  3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;  3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.  3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;  3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  3:5 For after this manner in the old time the Holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:  3:6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him LORD: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.  3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.  3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:  3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.  3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
1 Peter
An Exposition, with Practical Observations, of The First Epistle General of Peter
Two epistles we have enrolled in the sacred canon of the scripture written by Peter, who was a most eminent apostle of Jesus Christ, and whose character shines brightly as it is described in the four Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles, but, as it is painted by the papists and legendary writers, it represents a person of extravagant pride and ambition. It is certain from scripture that Simon Peter was one of the first of those whom our LORD called to be his disciples and followers, that he was a person of excellent endowments, both natural and gracious, of great parts and ready elocution, quick to apprehend and bold to execute whatever he knew to be his duty. When our Saviour called his apostles, and gave them their commission, he nominated him first in the list; and by his behaviour towards him he seems to have distinguished him as a special favourite among the twelve. Many instances of our LORD's affection to him, both during his life and after his resurrection, are upon record. But there are many things confidently affirmed of this Holy man that are directly false: as, That he had a primacy and superior power over the rest of the apostles - that he was more than their equal - that he was their prince, monarch, and sovereign - and that he exercised a jurisdiction over the whole college of the apostles: moreover, That he as the sole and universal pastor over all the Christian world, the only vicar of Christ upon earth - that he was for above twenty years bishop of Rome - that the popes of Rome succeed to St. Peter, and derive from him a universal supremacy and jurisdiction over all Churches and Christians upon earth - and that all this was by our LORD's ordering and appointment; whereas Christ never gave him any pre-eminence of this kind, but positively forbade it, and gave precepts to the contrary. The other apostles never consented to any such claim. Paul declares himself not a whit behind the very chief apostles, 2Co_11:5 and 2Co_12:11. Here is no exception of Peter's superior dignity, whom Paul took the freedom to blame, and withstood him to the face, Gal_2:11. And Peter himself never assumed any thing like it, but modestly styles himself an apostle of Jesus Christ; and, when he writes to the presbyters of the Church, he humbly places himself in the same rank with them: The elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, 1Pe_5:1. See Dr. Barrow on the pope's supremacy.
The design of this first epistle is,  I. To explain more fully the doctrines of Christianity to these newly-converted Jews.  II. To direct and persuade them to a Holy conversation, in the faithful discharge of all personal and relative duties, whereby they would secure their own peace and effectually confute the slanders and reproaches of their enemies.  III. To prepare them for sufferings. This seems to be his principal intention; for he has something to this purport in every chapter, and does, by a great variety of arguments, encourage them to patience and perseverance in the faith, lest the persecutions and sad calamities that were coming upon them should prevail with them to apostatize from Christ and the gospel. It is remarkable that you find not so much as one word savouring of the spirit and pride of a pope in either of these epistles. [Matthew Henry][2]
One of the interesting things about marriage is that although man has fallen marriage has not.  Initiated and instituted by God it has stood the test of time for almost 6000 years.  In the book of Genesis, we learn that God established matrimony as something sacred.  Of course, man has defiled it.  Still, it is a God ordained method of joining one man and one woman together so that - "the two shall be one flesh."
Jesus Christ referred to marriage in his ministry on earth.  He stated - "what God has joined together let not man put asunder." This is a strong statement from our LORD designed to show the sacredness of marriage as well as the sinfulness of divorce.  Remember, the Jewish leaders of Jesus time taught that all a man had to do if he was not pleased with his wife any longer, was to give her a bill, or writing of divorcement.  Jesus emphasized the sacredness of marriage when he said that God put a man and a woman together, not man.
If you have been married in a Christian Church, you more than likely took the traditional vow to stay with your wife or husband - "in sickness and health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, till death do us part." To this day, almost all Christian Churches - with some exceptions, have the couples who enter into marriage take this time honored vow.  One of the reasons the husband and wife will take vows before the LORD, is because marriage is not easy.  Young couples are apt to think that since they are in love now, those emotions and feelings will remain forever.  However, as time goes on life, with all of its vicissitudes changes things.
The husband or wife gets sick or incapacitated.  The job or business does not do too well.  There are conflicts, confrontations, and perhaps strong differences of opinion between husband and wife.  It is at this point in time the husband, the wife, or perhaps both, decide they can "no longer take it." Putting aside the subject of flagrantly bad behavior from a spouse with regard to - adultery, physical abuse, desertion, child abuse, etc. and so forth; simply consider the common trivialities of ordinary life as the most common reasons couples divorce.  In this regard, that is, in the ordinary, normal, and average experience of men and women that Jesus speaks no matter what a man and woman who take vows before the LORD for fidelity and faithfulness are to stay together for life.  This is how God has designed his institution of marriage.  It is for life.
Usually the daily living together puts couples at odds.  However, our text from 1 Peter chapter three, addresses this common experience of married couples.  First, the wife is exhorted to be in subjection to her own husband.  This includes, as you read in first Peter 3:1, even if the husband does not obey the word of God.  The Apostle Peter states that he may be won to the LORD by the behavior of the wife as he observes her purity and fear of the LORD.
For this reason, the Apostle Peter will accent in chapter 3:3 that a woman is not to adorn herself (merely) by her hairstyle, or jewelry, or clothing.  Not that this is wrong.  It is simply that the real treasure of a woman (the same is true of a man) is found on the inside.  It is found in the possession of the Holy Spirit of God, and the person of Jesus Christ.  God dwells on the inside, not on the outside.  Therefore, hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing only please the eye of man.  Yet, it is the quality of a Godly character that pleases both God and man.  Hence, the exhortation to pay closer attention to the spirit than to the body.  Again, not that a woman should not look her best, it is just that the inner man is more important than the outer man is.  In addition, modesty and a woman's apparel is enjoined in the Holy Scriptures.
The husband is exhorted to dwell with his wife - "according to knowledge." There is no doubt - the greater burden for the marriage (and the family) is put on the husband.  He is to love his life as Christ loved the Church.  This is a holy calling, and one that is not easily performed.  The man who has the greatest responsibility with reference to loving his wife even as Christ loved the Church must fulfill his end of the marriage covenant.  Keep in mind, a Christian marriage is a holy covenant, not the worldly contract.
The difference between a holy covenant and a worldly contract are vast.  A worldly contract is based on a mutual distrust one of another.  Thus, we sign agreements in the world that include limited liability and responsibility.  The reason again, is a mutual distrust.  The holy covenant however, is based on love.  This means, the Christian couple has a mutual trust of one another that causes them to take on larger responsibilities and a [nearly] unlimited amount of liability.  Because of what Christ teaches, the husband and wife both sacrifice their own lives for each other.  The traditional Christian vow also includes - "clinging only unto him (her)"
This part of the Christian vow states that the man will never have another woman other than his wife, and the woman will never have another man other than her husband.  This is the God ordained, Christ honoring marriage you find in the Bible.  Worldly marriages, especially today, have little rules, standards, and boundaries.  The Christian marriage on the other hand, has Biblical principles, standards, and commandments.  Thus, the great difference between those married in the world without Christ, and those married in the Church with Christ.
It is to the shame of Christ and his Church, that so many professing Christians divorce one another today.  Once again, keeping in mind certain exceptions mentioned in the Bible - as adultery and desertion, or perhaps criminal violations of the marriage covenant, the principle of staying married for life is still intact.  Divorce is not the will of God.  Recognizing those exceptions to this principle (as adultery and desertion are examples found in the Bible for "putting away" or "letting go" of your spouse) marriage is honorable and highly valued in the Christian faith.
Thus, the rate of divorce - not only among professing Christians, but also among Christian pastors and leaders, is a bane to the holy name of Jesus Christ.  In addition, it is a sign of the times as lawlessness is prevalent both in the world and in the Church.  Nevertheless, you must do all that is in your power to obey the Holy Scriptures.  Wives must be in subjection to their husbands, and husbands must be dwelling with their wives according to knowledge.
Further, in accenting the great responsibility placed upon the husband, he must honor his wife, as she is the "weaker vessel." This reference to a woman being weaker, is common sense and common knowledge in this life.  It certainly does not state a woman is inferior.  It is just that God in his economy of relationships and creation, has made a woman more vulnerable to emotional sensitivity and physical weakness.  For this reason, the husband must be careful how he treats his wife since the Scriptures are clear his prayers will be hindered if he does not treat his wife with the respect and honour due to her both as a woman and as a Christian.
In this walk of faith, you discover how strong and committed you are to the LORD in relations that are closest to you.  You are more apt to act in an unchristian way with your husband or wife then you are with the average person.  This is human nature.  However, the Holy Scriptures are clear the marriage bed is honorable if it is undefiled, and the marriage as a whole is likewise honorable when both parties conduct themselves as instructed in the Bible.  Remember, marriage is an institution ordained by God, not man.

  • [1] Samuel Huntington, A Proclamation for a Day of Fasting, Prayer and Humiliation, March 9, 1791, from a proclamation in our possession, Evans #23284.
  • [2] Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. Public Domain, [1662 - 1714].
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