Ephesians 5:22-33: The Institution of Marriage

What is marriage? One mother says, ‘marriage is just a fancy word for adopting an overgrown male child who cannot be handled by his parents anymore.’ But speaking more seriously, modern views of marriage are descriptive not prescriptive. Here are some suggested definitions, ‘A more or less durable connection between a male and a female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring.’ Or including polygamy, ‘a relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognized by law.’ Or more legal definitions, marriage exists to establish a legal mother or father for a child. To give monopoly of one’s sexuality to one’s spouse. To give monopolistic or partial rights to domestic labour or services. To give your spouse total or partial control over property belonging to the other. To establish a fund of property for the benefit of the children.

It is merely a tradition handed down from our parents, is it an unquestioned relic that is irrelevant to modern life, it is primarily legal in character, is it man centred and should be arranged according to the purpose of serving man’s happiness, is it a relative social convention that has no rules? Marriage is being challenged and is deeply misunderstood even by Christians so we have to clarify our definition of marriage and the nature of it before we can commit to making our marriages work.

Let me give a biblically informed definition:

Marriage is a God-wrought, universal, life-long, exclusive covenant between one natural man and one natural woman; a consenting; mutually beneficial partnership with distinct roles and responsibilities for men and women; that exists for the purpose of companionship, procreation, mission, holiness and imaging God’s redemptive grace. Let’s unpack that just a little.