What is a Godly Marriage?
Deuteronomy 7:6-9 gives us a picture of what a godly marriage looks like:
“For you are a people Holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affections on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”
There are several principles in the above scripture that describe from God’s perspective what is a godly marriage…
First, God chose us to be His treasured possession and set his affection on us. (Deuteronomy 7:6-7). In other words God chose to enter into an exclusive, personal and intimate relationship with His people.
A Godly Marriage is a Covenant
In the same way through the marriage covenant we choose our spouse to be our treasured possession. In a godly marriage we set all our affections on this one exclusive person. The traditional wedding vows adapted from the Book of Common Prayer express these biblical principles put forth in Deuteronomy 7:
Just like God redeemed the children of Israel from the power of the king of Egypt, He redeems us from the power of Satan so that we can be free to worship Him. In marriage (as well as in the Christian life) we are to foster an atmosphere of love and freedom, not setting ourselves in bondage to anyone or anything. We are to remain free to worship and serve Christ and to set all our affections on God and our spouse. Clearly, husbands and wives should love and repect each other and this agape love will foster an atmosphere of freedom not fear or bondage.
A Godly Marriage is a Faithful Marriage
Second, God makes it clear that He is God, there is no other god besides Him. In other words, there is no reason to go after other gods. God expects us to remain faithful to Him. God is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations. In fact scripture says that everything God does He does in faithfulness (Deut 32:4, Psalm 33:4)
When we marry, we enter into a covenant of faithfulness. Pledging to be faithful in marriage is but being the reflective glory of God. Married couples are a witness to heaven and earth that the God of Israel is a faithful God. (Eph 3:10, John 17:23). Complete faithfulness to our God and our spouse is characteristic of a god exalting marriage.
A Godly Marriage is Focused on Christ
Understanding God’s relationship with His people gives us insight into God’s words to Adam after He created Eve from Adam’s rib. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24). Paul says in Ephesians 5:32 this is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. Referring back to verse 29 where he states that “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body.”
Third, we see as believers that we have a great and grave responsibility. Marriage is a witness, a great testimony to heaven and earth that Jesus Christ loves His bride and cares for her. In a godly marriage our mindset is always to be focused on Christ and His love for His Bride.
Throughout the Old and New Covenants we see God referring to His relationship with His people as that of a husband or bridegroom; his people are referred to as His wife or Bride. Hosea says it best…
I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD. (Hosea 2:19-20)
A Godly marriage Reflects God’s Character
Finally, Hosea introduces several characteristics to us that describe how husbands and wives are to relate to one another in a godly marriage. Again, when husbands and wives faithfully express these characteristics they reflect God’s glory to a multitude of witnesses in heaven and in earth. God says succinctly the defining characteristics of His relationship with the church, the things his people can count on from Him are these…
- Betrothal Forever (monogamy) – (Matthew 19:6) So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has join together, let man not separate. When we come to Christ we are joined with Him for all eternity.
Husbands and wives are to be united in their faith, and their sense of purpose for their family and the expenditure of their resources (physical energy, emotional energy, time, material possessions, finances etc.)
In a godly marriage husbands and wives eliminate things in their lives that threaten their unity, purpose and faith.
- Righteousness. The word Tsedeq quite often is translated “just”. It is also the word used for properly balanced weights and measures. Jesus referred to Tsedeq when he taught that as children of the Most High, we must be kind to the ungrateful and wicked just as the Most High is. Jesus explains it like this, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” How much more so does God expect us to extend the riches of His kindness to our spouse if He calls us to do this for the ungodly.
- Justice (God’s Mishpat his law). It is often said that God’s word is a road map for our lives and indeed it is and so much more…it is to be our very life. God gave us the grace of His words and instruction originally in the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. In God’s word Peter says is everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Chances are Peter was thinking of the Torah when he wrote that. And remember the words Moses spoke over the people of Israel as he instructed them how to live the blessed life: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deut 6) How are husbands and wives to express God’s Justice, His Misphat, well His word tells us that as well…
In a godly marriage husbands and wives are to make it the highest priority of their lives to know and understand and live out God’s word and they are to manage all their resources in a way that expresses loving God with all their heart, soul and strength.
- Loving-kindness (God’s Checed). God’s Checed was brought to fullness through Jesus Christ. This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.(1 John 3:16) In fact, while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). Both husbands and wives are to demonstrate sacrificial love and compassion for one another. To live in love is to see God manifested in the world through the marriage relationship.
A godly marriage is a covenant between a man and woman that demonstrates faithfulness to God and one another, is focused on Christ and reflects God’s relationship with His bride the Church.