Sermon: Marriage – Origin and Design: Genesis 1:26–31; 2:20–25

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 1:26–31; 2:20–25

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.’ (Genesis 1:26–31, ESV)

“The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ 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 2:20–25, ESV)


Brothers and sisters, I’d like to take a few weeks to address the topic of marriage.

Marriage is a very important thing. I don’t think I need to spend much time convincing you of that.

You would agree that marriage, and the family that is produced and made stable by it, is important to society. I think it is right to say that marriage and the family serve as the building blocks of society.  We are more than a collection of individual citizens. We, as individuals come into this world when two persons – a male and a female – come together. And it is the responsibility of the two who come together to help the newly formed person grow up. Parents are to nurture, discipline, and instruct their children. They are to protect and provide for them. This is what we call a family. It’s hard to think of concept more basic than this, and yet it seems far from obvious today. Healthy societies consist of healthy families. And healthy families are made possible by healthy marriages. Marriage is important to society.

You would also agree that marriage, and the family that is produced and made stable by it, is important to the church. Keep in mind that the church is more than just a collection of families. We make much of the family here at Emmaus. And it is right that we do so. But there is a danger in it. Some churches who make much of the family begin to function as if the church is nothing more that a gathering together of families. They seem to miss the fact that there are married people and single people within the church. There are young and old. The church is not made up of families, but of officers and members – that is to say, elders and deacons along with the saints who appoint them, who are then served by them. And the saints are diverse, as I’ve already said. There are young and old, male and female, rich and poor, black and white, married and unmarried. And is the task of ministers to minister to them all. And so the church is more than just a coming together of families. And yet we must also admit that the family plays a vital role within the church. Husbands and wives have a special obligation to love one another in Christ. Children are to be raised by parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Therefore, healthy marriages and healthy families are vital to the building up of heathy churches.

And you would also agree that marriage is important to the individuals who enter into it. Some of you are married now. Some hope to marry in the future. Some have no desire to marry, which may be gift from the Lord (we’ll talk about that another time). Whatever your current status, and whatever your plans for the future may be, I think you would agree that the marriage relationship is the most intimate of all human relationships. There are other significant relationships, of course. The relationship between a parent and child is significant. Friendships are significant. Our relationship to one another in Christ is significant (it is eternal!). But the marriage bond is the most intimate of all human relationships. It is in marriage that two individual persons become one. That happens nowhere else except in marriage.

Marriage is immensely important. But sadly the institution of marriage has been dragged through the mud by godless people. It’s been twisted and distorted. It’s true significance is largely unknown.

Friends, please understand that this is nothing new. It may seem new to us. We have in our day witnessed a rapid and dramatic transformation in regard to the way that our society defines marriage. The change has been very significant. The changes have been jarring, especially to those who love God and his word – who love neighbor and country, knowing that God’s ways are best for the society in which we live. But really the degradation of God’s design for marriage is nothing new.

For example, in Genesis 4:19, which describes to us days not long after the fall, we read that, “Lamech took two wives.” This was clearly an act of rebellion against God’s design for marriage. God said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, ESV) Two are to become one; but Lemech joined himself, not to one, but to two. And by the days of Noah, when godlessness had greatly increased on the earth, we see that powerful men were taking as many wives as they pleased. Genesis 6:1 says, “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.” (Genesis 6:1–2, ESV) These “sons of God” were powerful kings. These were tyrants who, instead of honoring God, disregarded him, and began to oppress their fellow man, taking as many women as they pleased.

Friends, the distortion of God design for marriage is nothing new. I, for one, am not surprised by it when I see it. But I am surprised that Christians are surprised. Why would we expect anything different from the world? The world is hostile to the things of God. The world hates the commandments of God. The world takes what God has said and turns it on its head. I’m sad for our society. I pray for our society, that God would show mercy. And I seek to influence our society as a citizen of this land by proclaiming truth, conversing with others, and voting. But I am not surprised by what I see. I would actually be surprised if I saw the godless love God and his ways. That would be an unusual sight indeed.

Friends, there is a time and a place to engage the culture in which we live concerning sin. I’m not opposed to that. But as a pastor I’m much more concerned to engage the church – those who name the name of Christ – concerning our lack of conformity to God’s word.

If anyone in the world be expected to live according to God’s design for marriage, it is the Christian! I’m not surprised when I see the godless rebel against God’s law as it is reveled in the scriptures and in nature. But I am surprised, and deeply saddened, when I see the Christian – the one who has received the word, and who has the Spirit to make him able and willing to obey it – neglect God’s design.

My objective in this brief series is to set before you God’s design for marriage. Today we will consider it’s origin and design. In two weeks we will consider roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife. And after that we will look at the “secret” for a healthy marriage, which is really no secret at all.

But first we must consider the origin of marriage and it’s design. When we talk about the origin of marriage we are asking, where did this institution come from? And when we talk about the design of marriage we are asking, what is it for? What is it’s purpose.

Do you want to know the real difference between the worlds view of marriage and the Christians? It is found here! It is not, first of all, a difference of opinion concerning who should be allowed to marry – a male and a female, a male with a male, a female with a female, or one to many – but it is first of all a difference of opinion concerning origin and design. 

The Christian believes that God is the originator of marriage. He is the one who instituted it. And because he is the originator, he is also the designer. To say it another way, God created marriage for a definite purpose. These things are fixed, in our view. They are unchanging, being rooted in the historical event of creation, and in the purposes of God.

But our culture is growing more and more atheistic – more godless. And the evolutionary theory of Darwin has permeated our culture, being applied, not just to organisms and animals, but to morality and culture, politics and religion. And so this is the opinion that prevails: there is no God who is the source of all things, who has designed the universe purposefully, directing all things to his desired end. Rather everything has come about randomly and spontaneously. And everything evolves from a lesser to a higher state of being. Animals evolve. Morality evolves. Religion evolves. It is no wonder, then, that they expect marriage to evolve too. It all evolves from a primitive, “cavemanish” state of being into something better, more advanced, modern, and refined. So there is no purposeful design in the beginning, and everything evolves – it must evolve – it must progress.

This is the way that the modern godless man thinks. And this is why they look at us as if we were from another planet (or at least from another time) when we say, “no, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He has designed things to function in a particular way. He is the originator and the designer of all things, and we are to live according to his law, revealed in nature, but much more clearly in his holy word.”

The disagreements that we have in our culture concerning marriage stem from something much deeper than the issues themselves. The views we hold concerning marriage bubble up from our view of the world. This is why Christians will never approve of gay marriage. We view the world in this way – God created all things seen and unseen. He is the originator and designer of all things. He has established a fixed order of things. We are governed by laws – the laws of nature, and the laws revealed in his word. This applies to marriage. He designed it to fulfill a purpose – to function in a particular way. This is what the scriptures teach, and it is what we believe.

So how should we handle this difference of opinion that we have with the surrounding culture concerning marriage? One, we should pray for the culture in which we live. Two, we should dialogue with people concerning these things, seeking to persuade them from God’s law found in nature and in the Holy Scriptures. Three, we should vote according to our beliefs. We have the right to do so. We should not neglect that great privilege. But above all, we ought to order our own lives according to God’s revealed will concerning marriage and the family.

It is this last thing that is so often neglected. It is easy to voice disapproval of the way the culture is heading. It is easy to vote. It is even easy to pray that God would turn the hearts of others to himself and to his ways. But is much more difficult to actually fulfill God’s design for marriage in our own lives. This is what is needed. As our culture runs away from God design is it imprint that we live according to it more and more so that we might shine forth as lights in the darkness.

But here is my concern: I wonder how many Christians really understand God’s design for marriage. We agree that marriage is between a man and a woman. We agree that we ought to be faithful to our spouse – we ought not to divorce. And these things are true and right! But let’s not break our arms patting ourselves on the back because we hold to a proper view and have managed to stay married! We are far to easily satisfied, I think.

Friends, we must work on our marriages so that, more than survive, they thrive. We must ask, what is God design for marriage. Why did he institute it? Was is the marriage relationship to like if it is to fulfill its God given purpose. This is the question I will seek to answer of the next few weeks.

The question, where did marriage come from? is easy for the Christian to answer. We believe that God instituted it. This was Jesus’ view. When asked about the issue of divorce, Christ replied,

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6, ESV)

Christ appealed to Genesis, didn’t he? He appealed to creation, and to the design of God. He insisted that God was the originator of the institution of marriage. In other words, marriage is not the product of man. Marriage did not randomly and spontaneously emerge of out of some ancient cultural ooze and evolve from there. No, marriage was instituted by God. It was designed by him to accomplish a particular purpose. Marriage, in Christ’s eyes, is a thing purposefully created by God. It is, therefore, fixed in it design and purpose. We are not to progress away from God’s design, but we are to conserve it.


But what is marriage for, exactly? Why marriage? And why marriage like this, and not in some other form? This is the question that we have a more difficult time answering. Friends, I do not think it is because the scriptures are unclear on this point. Instead, I think it because of our sinfulness that we are more prone to answer this question incorrectly. God’s purpose for marriage is clearly stated in the scriptures, but we do not always want to listen. We rather make it into what we want it to be. And sometimes we just simply forget to ask these important questions. How many of you took the time to really ask, what is God’s design for marriage? before you said I do? I doubt very many. Instead we are often driven by emotion and desire and we find ourselves getting married because this is what people in culture do.

We assume that marriage is going to make us happy. But is that what marriage is ultimately for? Is it about your happiness? Is that the supreme goal? Is that the aim? Disney says so. “Happily ever after”, right? That’s how the story goes. But we should remember, and never forget, that while Disney was great at making kids movies, he was a terrible theologian.

Friends, personal happiness is not the supreme goal of the marriage relationship. In fact, if you want to be sure never to find personal happiness in this life, aim for it all the time and in everything you do. Make everything about you. Make it all about your desires, your needs, your goals and ambitions. Pursue personal happiness, and you’ll be sure never to find it.

Happiness, friends, is the byproduct of a life lived well. Happiness comes to the soul when we live, not for self, but for the glory of God – not for self, but for the good of others. This is true in every relationship, but especially the marriage relationship?

Brothers and sisters, it is vital that we aim at the right thing in the marriage relationship. We must have the right goal in mind from the start.

So what did God design the marriage relationship for? Let us briefly notice three things from Genesis 1 and 2. As usual, more could be said than what will be said, but it’s a start.

For The Generation Of A Holy Seed 

First of all, notice that marriage was instituted for the generation of a holy seed.

Adam and Eve were to come together as one flesh and they were to populate the earth.  “God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:28, ESV)

The man and the woman, as husband and wife, were to reproduce. They were to raise their children to honor God, to keep his commands, and to fulfill his calling upon their life.

Adam and Eve fell before accomplishing this in the garden, but they did accomplish it afterwards. They bore children. And this childbearing took on an added dimension after the fall. It would be through the process of reproduction that the Messiah would eventually come. And so when Adam and Eve reproduced they urged their children to trust in the promise of God concerning the coming savior. They taught their children to honor God and to keep his commandments. Some did, some did not. It was from the line of those who did honor God that the Messiah would eventually come.

Friends, the Messiah has come! He is Christ Jesus our Lord. And when Christians marry and have children today one of their prime responsibilities is to point the kids to Jesus. Are children are not born into the Abrahamic, Mosaic, or New Covenant. They are not kingdom children by birth. But they are sanctified. They are sanctified – which means to be set apart – in that they have been born to parents, or to a parent, who believes upon Christ. Think of the privilege this is. Think of the benefit. They will be raised hearing the gospel. They well be raised according to God’s word. They will be raised being taught the things of God. They are sanctified, or made holy, in this respect, as is the nonbeliever who is married to a Christian (1 Corinthians 7:14).

One of the purposes of marriage is the generation of a holy seed. Christians should know this before they marry. One of the reasons that Christians are to marry Christians is so that this purpose can be fulfilled most effectively. It is not impossible, but its more difficult to raise children in the Lord if your spouse is not a believer. if you are not yet married, but hope to marry in the future, then marry in the Lord. And marry with the intent of raising your children in the Lord.

We joke here at Emmaus that our method for church growth seems to involve childbearing. We have lots of little ones here. But seriously, we should make much effort to raise our children in the Lord. It is a form of kingdom work. It makes little sense to pour yourself into “ministry” and to neglect your own children.

I should probably say a word about singleness and childlessness before I move on. Please understand that ’m speaking in very general terms here about God’s design for marriage. By no means should we think that those who do not marry, or those who do not have kids, are any less valuable in Christ’s kingdom. Paul, who in other places speaks to beauty of marriage, also speaks of the single life as a gift to be used for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 7). His rationale obviously applied to those who do not have children. Jesus himself neither was married nor did he have children. Think about that.

The point is this: one of the general purposes of marriage is for the generation of a holy seed. We ought to pour ourselves into the children God has entrusted to us. We are to provide for them, protect them, nurture, discipling and train them. This is to be done, not by neglecting the marriage, but by giving priority to it, so that the children might thrive under the glory of the husband’s love for his wife, and the wive’s love for her husband.

For The Glory Of God

Secondly, recognize that marriage was instituted by God to bring glory to God.

Here is what I mean by this: marriage was designed in such a way that when it is functioning as it should something of the mystery of the Triune God is revealed through it.

Consider the Genesis narrative.  When God came to the creation man he said, “‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26–27, ESV)

We will not take the time to say all that could be said here, but notice how God uses the plural “us” and “our” to refer to himself. It is a strange way to speak. Cleary he is referring to himself – man is made in the image of God, and not God and some other entity. And clearly God is one – there is only one God who created the heavens and the earth. And yet God refers to himself in the plural. The rest of the scriptures help us to understand why this would be. Though there is only one God, he exists eternal in three persons (or subsistences) – Father, Word, and Holy Spirit. He is perfectly one, and yet he is many. It is a great mystery.

And notice what is said about the creation of man. Man is made in the image of God, and yet when man is created, he made to be, not one but many. “In the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, ESV)

I cannot at this time deal with all that is meant by man being created in the image of God. For now I would like you to consider that there is something about the intimacy that exists between and man and his wife that is a picture, or reflection, of the intimacy that exists between the persons of the Triune God. In Genesis 2 we are told “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, ESV) There is something deeply spiritual about this union. There is something mysterious and profound about it. And I am saying that it referred originally to the Triune God, who is the covenant making and covent keeping God.

I didn’t not manage my time well in this sermon, so I cannot say much more. I make my point by asking a question. Is the goal of a Christian marriage merely to stay together, that is, to make it to the end as husband and wife? Or is the goal more profound than that? I believe it is more profound. I believe that the goal of the Christian marriage is to remain faithful to the covenant made, as God is faithful in his covenants with us, and to display something of the relational intimacy that exists within the Triune God – Father, Word, and Holy Spirit. We ought to experience a oneness with our spouse that reflects the oneness of the Triune God. I’m well aware of the fact that Paul says that the mystery of marriage refers to Christ and the church. We will come that. Here in Genesis it seems to refer to the mystery of the Triune God.

Husband, are you one with your wife? Wife, are you one with your husband? Is there an intimacy between the two of you – physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally (all of these things are connected, of course) – that brings glory to God? We are fallen people living in a fallen world. These things do not come automatically, but they can be cultivated, friends.

For The Good Of The Man And Woman

Lastly, consider that marriage was instituted by God for the good of the man and the woman.

This was so from the beginning.  Notice that while everything in God’s creation was said to be good, “God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:18, ESV) This verse does not mean that it is never good for any man to be alone (for him to not marry) – that would contradict Paul. It means, rather, that man, in general, is not complete without the woman. The two together make up man, or humanity.

And so God made him “a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18, ESV) The woman was made to be compatible to man, and man, therefore, is comparable to women. The creation of the woman moved the man from the state of being “not good” to “good”.

Friends, may I suggest to you that God has given you your husband or wife to make you good – to help you to fulfill God’s calling, and to sanctify you. I realize that I am playing a little loose with the text of Genesis 2 to make this point, but I think the idea is there, and it is an idea greatly magnified in the rest of scripture. God has given you your spouse for your good, so that God may sanctify you through him or her.

Think of it. You’ve entered into a covenant with someone. You’ve said, “till death to us part.” And yes, you were probably naive and foolish when you said those words. You were disciples of Walt Disney. You believed the Cinderella myth. You thought it was all about your happiness. But friends, its better than that. God has given you your spouse for your good. He’s using them to refine you. What an amazing idea this is! God says (even after the fall), lets take two sinful, self-centered, emotionally unstable people and bind them together with a covenant bond, making them to be one flesh, and let’s see what happens. Friends, it’s either a dirty trick, or it’s a beautiful plan leading to our sanctification in Christ. I see it as the later, and not the former.  


If this were all I were going to say about marriage I’d be the first to admit that it is inadequate. My objective was to say some foundational things. More than anything I want for you to look at marriage as something instituted purposefully by God. If we are to do well in it we must know something about God’s purposes for it. He instituted marriage for the generation of a holy seed, for his own glory, and for the good of the man and the women. With Christ’s help, we will be able to make progress in living with one another according to God’s design. We’ll build on that in the weeks to come.

Comments are closed.

"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

© 2011-2022 Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church