1. THE ORIGIN OF MARRIAGE
a. When God brought the marriage institution into existence, what law did He establish for men and women? Genesis 2:24.
“As the Creator joined the hands of the holy pair in wedlock, saying, A man shall ‘leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one’ (Genesis 2:24), He enunciated the law of marriage for all the children of Adam to the close of time. That which the eternal Father Himself had pronounced good was the law of highest blessing and development for man.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 63, 64.
b. For what reasons was marriage instituted? Genesis 2:18; 1:26–28; 1 Corinthians 7:2.
“God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has for its originator the Creator of the universe. ‘Marriage is honorable’ (Hebrews 13:4); it was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the Fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine principles are recognized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man’s social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46.
2. CHOOSING A COMPANION
a. What example did Abraham give in the choice of a wife for Isaac? Genesis 24:1–4, 67. Discuss how widely professed Christians differ from Isaac in this matter.
“What a contrast between the course of Isaac and that pursued by the youth of our time, even among professed Christians! Young people too often feel that the bestowal of their affections is a matter in which self alone should be consulted—a matter that neither God nor their parents should in any wise control. Long before they have reached manhood or womanhood they think themselves competent to make their own choice, without the aid of their parents. A few years of married life are usually sufficient to show them their error, but often too late to prevent its baleful results. For the same lack of wisdom and self-control that dictated the hasty choice is permitted to aggravate the evil, until the marriage relation becomes a galling yoke. Many have thus wrecked their happiness in this life and their hope of the life to come.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 175.
b. Give some examples of unwise choices in regard to choosing a marriage partner. Luke 17:32; Genesis 26:34, 35; 27:46; Job 2:9, 10; Judges 14:1–3.
c. Using Lot’s experience as an example, discuss the effect a wrong choice can have when choosing a marriage partner.
“The wife of Lot was a selfish, irreligious woman, and her influence was exerted to separate her husband from Abraham. But for her, Lot would not have remained in Sodom, deprived of the counsel of the wise, God-fearing patriarch. The influence of his wife and the associations of that wicked city would have led him to apostatize from God had it not been for the faithful instruction he had early received from Abraham. The marriage of Lot and his choice of Sodom for a home were the first links in a chain of events fraught with evil to the world for many generations.”—Ibid., p. 174.
3. LOYALTIES IN MARRIAGE
a. What change in family relationships and loyalties must take place for marriage to be successful? 1 Corinthians 7:33, 34.
“Every marriage engagement should be carefully considered, for marriage is a step taken for life. Both the man and the woman should carefully consider whether they can cleave to each other through the vicissitudes of life as long as they both shall live.”—The Adventist Home, p. 340.
b. What oneness does the Christian marriage vow elicit from the man as well as the woman? Mark 10:8, 9; Hebrews 13:4 (first part).
“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 the husband’s character and give it completeness—fulfill God’s purpose for them.”—Ibid., p. 99.
“In the youthful mind marriage is clothed with romance, and it is difficult to divest it of this feature, with which imagination covers it, and to impress the mind with a sense of the weighty responsibilities involved in the marriage vow. This vow links the destinies of the two individuals with bonds which naught but the hand of death should sever.”—Ibid., p. 340.
c. How do we know that it is the will of God that a man should have one wife only, and a wife one husband only? Matthew 19:4–6. Who was the first recorded polygamist in the Bible? Genesis 4:18, 19.
“In the beginning God gave to Adam one wife, thus showing His order. He never designed that man should have a plurality of wives. Lamech was the first who departed in this respect from God’s wise arrangement. He had two wives, which created discord in his family.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 99.
4. DIVORCE: NOT GOD’S PLAN
a. Why were divorce and remarriage tolerated in the Mosaic legislation? Matthew 19:7, 8.
“Jesus came to our world to rectify mistakes and to restore the moral image of God in man. Wrong sentiments in regard to marriage had found a place in the minds of the teachers of Israel. They were making of none effect the sacred institution of marriage. Man was becoming so hardhearted that he would for the most trivial excuse separate from his wife, or, if he chose, he would separate her from the children and send her away. . . . Christ came to correct these evils, and His first miracle was wrought on the occasion of the marriage. Thus He announced to the world that marriage when kept pure and undefiled is a sacred institution.”—The Adventist Home, p. 341.
b. What is the only cause for which a man may put away his wife? Matthew 5:32; 19:9.
c. In what way does the Bible restrict the rights of a divorced person? Mark 10:11, 12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:1–3; 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11, 39.
“Now, as in Christ’s day, the condition of society presents a sad comment upon heaven’s ideal of this sacred relation. Yet even for those who have found bitterness and disappointment where they had hoped for companionship and joy, the gospel of Christ offers a solace. The patience and gentleness which His Spirit can impart will sweeten the bitter lot. The heart in which Christ dwells will be so filled, so satisfied, with His love that it will not be consumed with longing to attract sympathy and attention to itself. And through the surrender of the soul to God, His wisdom can accomplish what human wisdom fails to do. Through the revelation of His grace, hearts that were once indifferent or estranged may be united in bonds that are firmer and more enduring than those of earth—the golden bonds of a love that will bear the test of trial.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 65.
5. A STABLE RELATIONSHIP
a. What attitude in each spouse is essential for stability in the marriage relationship? Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5; 1 Corinthians 12:25 (last part).
“In your life union your affections are to be tributary to each other’s happiness. Each is to minister to the happiness of the other. This is the will of God concerning you. But while you are to blend as one, neither of you is to lose his or her individuality in the other. . . .
“Make Christ first and last and best in everything. Constantly behold Him, and your love for Him will daily become deeper and stronger as it is submitted to the test of trial. And as your love for Him increases, your love for each other will grow deeper and stronger.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 45, 46.
b. To make a successful marriage, what is needed? John 15:5 (last part).
“The grace of Christ, and this alone, can make this [marriage] institution what God designed it should be—an agent for the blessing and uplifting of humanity. And thus the families of earth, in their unity and peace and love, may represent the family of heaven.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 65.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Which are the two institutions that originated in Paradise?
2. To what lengths did Abraham go to secure a proper companion for Isaac?
3. What attitude should husband and wife take toward each other so that God’s purpose for them may be fulfilled?
4. How does the gospel affect the marriage institution?
5. How should husband and wife act toward each other in order to preserve the sanctity of their marriage relationship?