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). 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, New Living Translation). Eve was the perfect complement to Adam.
Then Genesis 2:24 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; Deuteronomy 22:22).
The Seventh Commandment forbids more than extra-marital sex (a sin against both one’s self as referenced in 1 Corinthians 6:18 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). 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). 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, 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). 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; Titus 2:4). 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) 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, “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. 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). 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, Ecclesiastes 9:9 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 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!