Believing the Permanency of Marriage (1)

When a man and woman say their marriage vows, they enter a union that will be lifelong. How beautiful when they are both believers who confess this and rejoice knowing their marriage will be for life. This makes the occasion of their union one of great joy.
With this article we begin a short series on the lifelong covenant bond of marriage. We look first at the doctrine of God’s covenant in which it is rooted. Then we consider some of the passages that many claim teach an exception to the rule that marriage is lifelong. Finally, we consider how married couples who believe this doctrine commune together, working out their problems and forgiving one another. Such couples, by the grace of God, not only remain together, but become closer friends as time goes on.
The covenant bond that God established with his people in Christ is a marriage bond. It is a marriage union of intimate friendship in which God loves and reveals himself to his people and graciously works within them so that they know and love him in return.
God not only told his people that he established his covenant with them, but also explained to them that this covenant relationship was a marriage union. In the book of Jeremiah, for example, God says: “the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord” (Jer. 31:32b).
That God was “an husband unto them” shows that the covenant bond really is a marriage bond. When Israel broke the covenant, she was sinning against her Husband.
That the covenant bond is a marriage bond is also taught in the prophecies of Ezekiel. In that book God speaks of how he entered into a covenant with Israel and referred to that as entering into a marriage: “Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine” (Ezek. 16:8).
The making of this covenant involved the swearing of an oath. God swore by himself, as he could swear by none greater. He swore an oath unto his people, and his people became his.
It is true, of course, that all things are God’s. But when God speaks of the church as his people, he refers to the fact that he has united them with himself. God and his people dwell together as husband and wife, beautifully united in a bond of love and fellowship.
A marriage between a man and a woman is patterned after this heavenly union. The two make a promise before God, enter into a marriage union, and become one flesh. This marriage bond is one of intimate fellowship in which the husband and wife belong to one another, united together in a joyful union for life.
Christ’s marriage to his bride, the church, will never be broken. Christ, who died to save us from our sins, arose from the grave and lives forever. He has also given his bride everlasting life, that she and he may live together forever in a never-ending union of love and communion.
Patterned after that lifelong union between Christ and his church, the marriage of a man and a woman is also lifelong. The bond does break, and very painfully so when either the man or his wife dies. Yet the bond is unbreakable as long as both the husband and wife are alive.
A passage in Romans 7 and another in I Corinthians 7 state this explicitly: “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress” (Rom. 7:2–3a(
The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39).
Both these verses state quite clearly that the marriage bond continues as long as both the husband and wife are alive. Someone who marries another person while his or her spouse still lives is said to be committing adultery. Romans 7:3 points this out when it says that a woman who does this “shall be called an adulteress.” Remarriage while one’s spouse lives is always adultery, because the bond of marriage is lifelong.
God is the one who established the one-flesh union, and he alone determines how long it lasts. The husband and wife vow to love and care for one another “as long as we both shall live.” During that time they remain not two, but one.
That marriages are lifelong is a blessing for God’s people. We are called to maintain this truth, and we do so with joy. What a great blessing it is for the married couples, for their children, and for the entire church of our Lord Jesus Christ!
To be continued.