144. What did God intend marriage to be?

In Genesis chapter 2 after God had made Adam he saw the man He had created and said: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him!’ God made the marriage of Adam and Eve as a way to provide companionship for both men and women. The physical and biological design of men and women indicates that God had a plan to involve men and women in a very intimate relationship where they shared everything they had with one another. The fruit of their intimate love for one another would be children who would look like them. This was designed by God intentionally, because he made mankind in His image, so he desired that mankind should enjoy the same joy and excitement of seeing children that looked like their parents.

God designed the relationship of a man and a woman to include Him. God said in his creation of man that he made man in the image of God. God is three persons in One. The triunity of a man and a woman and God is the reflection of that image of God. If a man and a woman are submitted in love and respect to one another and to God, then they will reflect the image of God. The unity and submission of the three persons, God, a man and a woman is the key to a successful marriage.

Later in the Old Testament King Solomon reveals the intimacy in marriage in the Song of Solomon, as a wonderfully romantic relationship that can be compared to how God wants to woo us into a romantic relationship with Him.

In Ephesians chapter 5 and verses 25 – 28: the Apostle Paul implores ‘husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that he might cleanse her by the washing of water with the Word……So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself (NASB).’ Finally, in the Book of Revelation marriage is the joining together of Christ and His Church in the Marriage feast of the Lamb who was slain for the sin of the world. The Bride is the Church, being the people who have trusted in Christ as their Saviour, Redeemer and Lord. Revelation 19 verse 7: ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His Bride has made herself ready. And it was given her to be clothed in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen are the righteous acts of the saints.’

God views marriage as holy and sacred, and an expression of His unconditional love for His people. He views His marriage to us as the Bride of Christ as eternal. It also behoves all Christians to seek to live holy and pure lives free from sin so we are always ready for the bridegroom. Jesus told a parable about the bridesmaids preparing for a wedding by ensuring they had enough oil, a type of the Holy Spirit, in their lamps.

The solemnisation of marriage in any form or in any religion is the legalisation of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman and the legitimisation of the children produced by them. Common-law couples and their children are similarly recognised after twenty years of cohabitation. Both are treated as married husband and wife and their children have the same legal rights and inheritance rights as provided to other legitimate children’s in the eyes of law.

Nikah (marriage) in pre Islâmic Arabia meant a different form of relationship between men and women. Women were not given any right of inheritance and were absolutely dependent. Women were treated as chattels. But on the arrival of the Prophet of Islâm, Mohammad, Muslim marriage become a civil contract in which a woman does not lose her individuality. Her personality is not merged into that of her husband. In this way woman remains absolute owner of her property in any way she pleases without any extraneous control of her husband. According to Islâmic sources there were many religions practiced in Arabia at the time of Muhammed. He married a Maryamite Christian business woman, Khadija, so women did have status in Arabia at that time and she was also the employer of the Prophet of Islâm before he received his revelation. History records that there were women poets and Queens in Arab history.

The Prophet of Islâm is reported to have said; ‘marriage is my Sunna and those who do not follow this way of life are not my followers.’ He also said that ‘there is no place of mockery in Islâm.’

In Hedya, marriage is defined as a; ‘… legal process by which the sexual intercourse and procreation of children are legitimised between man or a woman and is perfectly lawful and valid.’

Muhammed had thirteen wives even though the Qur’an permits a man to have four wives provided he can support them all. Muhammed divorced one of his wives. He had three sons and five daughters.