1. THE DAYS OF NOAH
a. What sinful choices did God’s people make in Noah’s day? Genesis 6:1, 2.
“The great crime in the marriages of the days of Noah was that the sons of God formed alliances with the daughters of men. Those who professed to acknowledge and revere God associated with those who were corrupt of heart; and without discrimination they married whom they would.”—Messages to Young People, p. 456.
b. How will it be just before Christ’s return? Matthew 24:37, 38.
“There are many in this day who have no depth of religious experience, who will do exactly the same things as were done in the days of Noah. They will enter into marriage without careful and prayerful consideration. Many take upon themselves the sacred vows as thoughtlessly as they would enter into a business transaction; true love is not the motive for the alliance.”—Ibid.
“There is in itself no sin in eating and drinking, or in marrying and giving in marriage. . . . But in the days of Noah men married without consulting God or seeking His guidance and counsel.”—The Adventist Home, p. 121.
2. FOLLOWING ISAAC’S EXAMPLE
a. What important requirement did Abraham give his trusted servant in choosing a wife for Isaac? Genesis 24:3; 2 Corinthians 6:14.
“Never should God’s people venture upon forbidden ground. Marriage between believers and unbelievers is forbidden by God. But too often the unconverted heart follows its own desires, and marriages unsanctioned by God are formed. . . .
“Those who profess the truth trample on the will of God in marrying unbelievers; they lose His favor and make bitter work for repentance. The unbelieving may possess an excellent moral character, but the fact that he or she has not answered to the claims of God and has neglected so great salvation is sufficient reason why such a union should not be consummated. The character of the unbelieving may be similar to that of the young man to whom Jesus addressed the words, ‘One thing thou lackest’; that was the one thing needful.”—The Adventist Home, p. 63.
b. Whom did the servant trust to make the choice, and what test was given? Genesis 24:12–14.
“Remembering the words of Abraham, that God would send His angel with him, he prayed earnestly for positive guidance. In the family of his master he was accustomed to the constant exercise of kindness and hospitality, and he now asked that an act of courtesy might indicate the maiden whom God had chosen.
“Hardly was the prayer uttered before the answer was given. Among the women who were gathered at the well, the courteous manners of one attracted his attention. As she came from the well, the stranger went to meet her, asking for some water from the pitcher upon her shoulder. The request received a kindly answer, with an offer to draw water for the camels also, a service which it was customary even for the daughters of princes to perform for their fathers’ flocks and herds. Thus the desired sign was given. The maiden ‘was very fair to look upon,’ and her ready courtesy gave evidence of a kind heart and an active, energetic nature.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 172, 173.
c. How were the wishes of Rebekah respected? Genesis 24:58.
3. GOD’S PURPOSE IN MARRIAGE
a. Why did God select “an help meet for man,” and how is a good wife described? Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 18:22; 19:14.
“God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided ‘an help meet for him’—a helper corresponding to him—one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy. Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self; showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation. ‘For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it.’ Ephesians 5:29.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 251.
“God made from the man a woman, to be a companion and helpmeet for him, to be one with him, to cheer, encourage, and bless him, he in his turn to be her strong helper. All who enter into matrimonial relations with a holy purpose—the husband to obtain the pure affections of a woman’s heart, the wife to soften and improve her husband’s character and give it completeness—fulfill God’s purpose for them.”—The Adventist Home, p. 99.
b. What provision did God make within the family after sin? Genesis 3:16 (last part); Colossians 3:18, 19; Ephesians 5:22, 25.
“In the creation, God had made [Eve] the equal of Adam. Had they remained obedient to God—in harmony with His great law of love—they would ever have been in harmony with each other; but sin had brought discord, and now their union could be maintained and harmony preserved only by submission on the part of the one or the other. Eve had been the first in transgression; and she had fallen into temptation by separating from her companion, contrary to the divine direction. It was by her solicitation that Adam sinned, and she was now placed in subjection to her husband. Had the principles enjoined in the law of God been cherished by the fallen race, this sentence, though growing out of the results of sin, would have proved a blessing to them; but man’s abuse of the supremacy thus given him has too often rendered the lot of woman very bitter.”—Ibid., p. 115.
4. FOLLOWING THE DIVINE PATTERN
a. How should husbands and wives copy the example of the way Jesus related to His Father? John 5:20 (first part); 8:29.
“Let each give love rather than exact it. Cultivate that which is noblest in yourselves, and be quick to recognize the good qualities in each other. The consciousness of being appreciated is a wonderful stimulus and satisfaction. Sympathy and respect encourage the striving after excellence, and love itself increases as it stimulates to nobler aims.
“Neither the husband nor the wife should merge his or her individuality in that of the other. Each has a personal relation to God. Of Him each is to ask, ‘What is right?’ ‘What is wrong?’ ‘How may I best fulfill life’s purpose?’ Let the wealth of your affection flow forth to Him who gave His life for you. Make Christ first and last and best in everything. As your love for Him becomes deeper and stronger, your love for each other will be purified and strengthened.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 361.
b. What other important attribute was shown in Jesus’ relationship with His Father? John 10:30; Ephesians 4:3.
“Without mutual forbearance and love no earthly power can hold you and your husband in the bonds of Christian unity. Your companionship in the marriage relation should be close and tender, holy and elevated, breathing a spiritual power into your lives, that you may be everything to each other that God’s word requires. When you reach the condition that the Lord desires you to reach, you will find heaven below and God in your life.”—The Adventist Home, p. 112.
“Anything that would mar the peace and unity of the family should be firmly repressed, and kindness and love should be cherished. He who manifests the spirit of tenderness, forbearance, and love will find that the same spirit will be reflected upon him. Where the Spirit of God reigns, there will be no talk of unsuitability in the marriage relation. If Christ indeed is formed within, the hope of glory, there will be union and love in the home. Christ abiding in the heart of the wife will be at agreement with Christ abiding in the heart of the husband. They will be striving together for the mansions Christ has gone to prepare for those who love Him.”—Ibid., p. 120.
5. DEALING WITH CONFLICT
a. What spirit should be manifest in husbands and wives, especially when there are difficulties? James 4:6, 7, 10.
“It is a hard matter to adjust family difficulties, even when husband and wife seek to make a fair and just settlement in regard to their several duties, if they have failed to submit the heart to God.”—The Adventist Home, p. 119.
“Though difficulties, perplexities, and discouragements may arise, let neither husband nor wife harbor the thought that their union is a mistake or a disappointment. Determine to be all that it is possible to be to each other. Continue the early attentions. In every way encourage each other in fighting the battles of life. Study to advance the happiness of each other. Let there be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true friendship, the love that binds heart to heart, is a foretaste of the joys of heaven.
“All should cultivate patience by practicing patience. By being kind and forbearing, true love may be kept warm in the heart, and qualities will be developed that Heaven will approve.”—Ibid., p. 106.
b. Describe the love that Christ wants us to have for each other, especially when things don’t go our way. John 15:12; 1 Corinthians 13:4–7.
“True affection will overlook many mistakes; love will not discern them.”—Ibid., p. 47.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why were most of the marriages in Noah’s day considered sinful?
2. Why is it wrong to marry someone who has good morals but is just not a believer?
3. What is God’s holy purpose for marriage?
4. What can we do to encourage someone to live a nobler life?
5. What is necessary in order to work through family difficulties?