I love this passage from Scripture:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. – Genesis 2:24-25, ESV
It is a reminder of how God intended marriage. Marriage isn’t designed to be throw-away like so many things in today’s world. Marriage is supposed to be where the husband and wife are inseparable. They become one flesh. This isn’t the co-dependency where they “need” each other to make it through the day. Rather, it’s that nothing here on Earth will come between them. And it’s important to note that there is the very plain language that a man will leave his father and his mother. That means that even family doesn’t get in the way of the marriage relationship. In our Western culture today, we see quite the opposite of all of these understandings, even within the Church. Family, finances, jobs, education, and other selfish desires lead to many a marriage being split apart. It’s a tragedy.
If you have not entered into marriage yet, consider the solemn words that have been given by God here. Marriage isn’t to be entered into lightly. It’s not supposed to be a trial run. It’s supposed to last. Yes, marriage will be hard. But God is saying once you come together, you are to be one flesh. The only way you separate flesh is to cut it, to burn it, or in some way to damage it. Both sides of that separated flesh are damaged. And that idea is definitely seen in marriage when a marriage comes to an early end. Even the most “friendly” and cordial of divorces still leave broken promises, incomplete dreams, and chaotic situations in their wake. Therefore, only consider marriage as a lasting commitment, just like your relationship with Christ is supposed to be.
If you’re in a marriage now, especially if it’s having trouble, remember that God intended for marriage to work. If you two are struggling, if you can both yield to the Savior and let Him take control of the marriage, He will help work things out and save the marriage. Deep hurts can be healed. Forgiveness can be granted. Situations can be accepted, even if they are less than ideal. The key here is that with God, it is possible to rebuild a marriage, because He is all powerful and capable of bringing it about. Just as He can resurrect people from the dead, so too can He do this for marriage. If you’re in a marriage and everything is great, remember that there are plenty of things out there seeking to destroy that marriage. There is none greater than the Enemy, who hates the loving relationship that is supposed to exist between two people. That means you must work to protect your marriage. Before we go into any dangerous activity, we would do well to put on suitable protection. For instance, if I’m going to ride a motorcycle, I should have a helmet and suitable clothing. I intentionally seek to protect myself. You must do the same with marriage. Marriage is staking yourself as a target. Marriage is saying you’re willing to take the risk. Armor yourself accordingly.
If you’re on the other side of a marriage, having gone through one or more divorces, or about to be there, remember that God doesn’t stop loving you because of the divorce. And He certainly doesn’t love you less, either. If you are His, then His Son still went to the Cross for the forgiveness of your sins – all of them. His Holy Spirit still came down to mark you for redemption and to guide you and lead you. The Father is still upon the throne waiting for you to come to Him in prayer. God doesn’t change because your circumstances have changed. Nor has his love changed, either.
And as a concluding thought, marriage should be about innocence. The last part of the verses reads, “were both naked and were not ashamed,” hits home when you think about little children and the lack of modesty when they go running around without any clothes on. Many a comedian has remarked on “naked time” when kids go running through in front of company, much to the embarrassment of their parents. Children don’t have the hang ups with regards to sex and the like because they are not old enough where those things have registered in their minds. They are innocent in regards to all of this (or they are supposed to be, though some would choose to violate this and abuse children). This idea of innocence should be a part of the marriage, too. We are made for our spouses. That’s every bit of us, including our eyes, our minds, and the words we speak. It goes beyond physical action. We should work to preserve innocence in the marriage relationship, both our own and in those around us. Husbands have a responsibility to present their brides as spotless, blameless, and holy before the Savior (Ephesians 5:25-27). If we are truly brothers and sisters of each other, that means we help each other in that endeavor. No coarse language. No lingering eyes. No inappropriate relationships. No tempting of others, even if one might say it’s “harmless.” Anything which threatens to mar the innocence is not harmless – it’s destructive. And we should aim to preserve the innocence of the marriage relationship in keeping with the sacrament that it is.