More Than a Piece of Paper


The preface to the report The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families, by Pew Research, begins by saying, “Social institutions that have been around for thousands of years generally change slowly. . . . But that’s not the way things have been playing out with marriage and the family since the middle of the 20th Century. . . . In the past five decades, the basic architecture of these age-old institutions has changed as rapidly as at any time in human history.” But the more important question is, What does the Bible say about how we can have better marriages and family relationships?

1. How did Jesus define marriage, its origin and permanence? Matthew 19:4–6

“Haven’t you read . . . that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

In defining marriage from Eden as a union between a man and a woman, Jesus ruled out other sexual arrangements as neither legitimate nor beneficial.

2. What counsel is vital for a healthy marriage?

Hebrews 13:1, 4 “Keep on loving each other. . . . Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

3. How should married couples treat each other?

1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:33 “Husbands, . . . be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect.” “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (italics added).

4. What does true love always do?

1 Corinthians 13:6, 7 “Love . . . always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (italics added).
If we want to be trusted, we must be “faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

5. What important aspect of communication did James tell us about?

James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

6. How should we deal with grievances?

Colossians 3:12, 13 “Therefore . . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

7. How can we maintain a loving relationship?

Romans 12:9, 10; Ephesians 4:2 “Love must be sincere. . . . Be devoted to one another. . . . Honour one another above yourselves.” “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

8. What is one of the great privileges of marriage?

Genesis 1:28 “God blessed [Adam and Eve] and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth.’ ”
The Pew report reveals that a majority of adults believe “a child needs [a home with] both a mother and father to grow up happily.” The fifth commandment says, “Honour your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

9. Whom has Jesus promised will help us?

John 16:13 “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you.”

We receive the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our Saviour.

A Christian woman who was separated from her husband and was dating another man said that her marriage certificate was “only a piece of paper.” But marriage vows are much more than words on a piece of paper. Without commitment, marriage is meaningless. While marriage is on the decline and many think it is becoming obsolete, the majority of younger respondents to the Pew survey still wanted to get married. If we want marriage to be fulfilling and meaningful, we need to return to the Bible’s concept of marriage as created by God.

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