Marriage is a marvelous gift of God! And it is a critical priority in God’s plan. After God created Eve, He immediately ordained marriage.
The Seventh Commandment, plus all that is related to it, is a huge subject. Two of our booklets, The Ten Commandments and Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension , cover the fundamental biblical teachings pertaining to this topic. This two-part article will also point you to other relevant and important articles. God intends that we regard His Instruction Book, the Bible, as the foundation of all knowledge, including the knowledge of marriage and sex. For further reading on this subject, please see our article “Sexual Immorality: Prophesied, Proliferating and Pernicious .”
Today, most people in relationships totally ignore what the Bible reveals. Our society is increasingly immoral and actually amoral. The consequences are catastrophic. When the building block of society—the family—collapses, the society soon collapses.
Genesis 1 and 2 are packed with significant revelations. One of God’s first recorded statements to Adam was, in essence, “Don’t eat the forbidden fruit” (Genesis 2:16-17 Genesis 2:16-17 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
American King James Version×). Following that, God said to Adam, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him (Genesis 2:18 Genesis 2:18And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation). Eve was the perfect complement to Adam.
Then Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
This verse contains significant meaning. The man and woman start a new family as they switch their primary dependency, devotion and commitment from parents to spouse. The word “joined” refers to much more than the wedding. God meant for them to be permanently and inseparably welded together. Notice how various Bibles translate the Hebrew word for “be joined”—cleave, cling, hold fast, be united, be married. God views marriage as a sacred covenant by which husband and wife promise before God their fidelity to each other, to faithfully stay together and unselfishly love and serve one another.
“Adulterate” means to contaminate or make impure. God forbids anything that spoils marriage. Adultery is so serious that under the Old Covenant, adulterers were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10 Leviticus 20:10And the man that commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
American King James Version×; Deuteronomy 22:22 Deuteronomy 22:22If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shall you put away evil from Israel.
American King James Version×).
The Seventh Commandment forbids more than extra-marital sex (a sin against both one’s self as referenced in 1 Corinthians 6:18 1 Corinthians 6:18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.
American King James Version×and one’s present spouse). It is an umbrella command that prohibits premarital sex (fornication), homosexual sex, incest, prostitution, bestiality and other forbidden relationships, some of which are listed in Leviticus 18 and 20. In addition to adultery, the New Testament in at least 19 places condemns all forms of “sexual immorality” (the Greek word being porneia , from which we get the English word pornography).
Sinful actions begin with sinful thoughts (James 1:14-15 James 1:14-15 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
American King James Version×). Jesus Christ magnified the Seventh Commandment showing that it includes adultery in one’s mind. He said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28 Matthew 5:27-28 27 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: 28 But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
American King James Version×). The Greek word for “to lust” is epithumeo , meaning carnal coveting, craving and fantasizing.
Then in verses 29-30, Jesus uses dramatic language to emphasize that we must do whatever is necessary to get away from temptations.
Jesus’ commandment is against any viewing of pornography and even the “soft porn” that is so prevalent in many movies, TV shows and magazines. Furthermore, this strongly implies that passionate sharing of physical affection (kissing, caressing, etc.) by a man and woman or by a boy and girl that results in sexual arousal should not be done until after the two are married. This should be considered the foreplay of marital lovemaking.
Marriage is sacred. God binds it in heaven. It is holy matrimony. In Mark 10:9 Mark 10:9What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
American King James Version×, Jesus said: “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” God says He “hates divorce” and breaking a wedding vow is dealing “treacherously” with one’s spouse (Malachi 2:14-16 Malachi 2:14-16 14 Yet you say, Why? Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And why one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, said that he hates putting away: for one covers violence with his garment, said the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that you deal not treacherously.
American King James Version×). Hence, God expects full commitment to our wedding vows.
Keep in mind that in the Bible, “love” is primarily an action verb, referring to how we treat others, not to an emotional feeling. This helps us understand the scriptures that command husbands to “love your wives” and wives to “love their husbands” (Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
American King James Version×; Titus 2:4 Titus 2:4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
American King James Version×). So God is judging husbands and wives each day by how they are treating their spouses.
The Second Great Commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 Matthew 22:39And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×) and your most important neighbor is your spouse!
Marriage requires lots of work, sacrifices, forgiveness and true love, but a faithful marriage is rewarded with much longterm happiness. More importantly, regardless of how much one is rewarded or not rewarded in this life, God will richly reward good husbands and good wives in the next life.
What Does “One Flesh” Mean?
In Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×, “one flesh” refers specifically to sexual relations and the close bond between husband and wife that this action reflects and promotes. This is shown by Paul’s wording in 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 14 And God has both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. 15 Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know you not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, said he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. 19 What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? 20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
American King James Version×. Notice that in verses 19-20, Paul tells us that our bodies and minds belong to God so when we use them as God intends, we “glorify God!”
So when God told Adam and Eve to “become one flesh,” He was specifically telling them to come together for sex. But He also meant for them to come together for companionship, completion, partnership and love.
God did not design their sexuality only for reproduction as He did when He designed the anatomy and instincts of animals. To be sure, God fervently desires people to “be fruitful and multiply” because He wants to eventually have a large spiritual family (Genesis 1:28 Genesis 1:28And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
American King James Version×). God desires that most couples have children and then be the very best parents they can be for those children.
But God would have designed humankind far differently if He were only concerned about reproduction. The more a person learns about the complex designs (anatomical, neurological, and hormonal) of male and female human bodies and minds, the clearer it becomes that they are “intended for pleasure” and bonding between couples, not solely for reproduction.
God’s intent that sex would be pleasurable is also emphasized by various scriptures including Proverbs 5:15-19 Proverbs 5:15-19 15 Drink waters out of your own cistern, and running waters out of your own well.
16 Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
17 Let them be only your own, and not strangers’ with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of your youth.
19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and be you ravished always with her love.
American King James Version×, Ecclesiastes 9:9 Ecclesiastes 9:9Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of the life of your vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all the days of your vanity: for that is your portion in this life, and in your labor which you take under the sun.
American King James Version×and Song of Solomon.
God wants married couples to regard their marital intimacy as a major responsibility and as an essential expression of their love for one another. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 3 Let the husband render to the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife to the husband.
4 The wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife.
5 Defraud you not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
American King James Version×warns husbands and wives not to be selfish by neglecting to give one’s spouse sexual satisfaction. This tells us that if you are married, you should not deprive (KJV: defraud) your spouse of their sexual needs.
God’s plan is that when loving married couples regularly “become one flesh,” that will strengthen and enhance their marriage, bonding and blending them together to also have one mind and one heart. Two become one!
That is God’s plan. He created us male and female so husbands and wives can become intimately united physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. A beautiful and deeply meaningful plan indeed!
Our all-loving and all-wise Creator gave us the Seventh Commandment to exalt and protect the precious relationship of marriage!
Part 2 will cover much more, including Christ’s relationship to the Church as a future marriage!