The Marriage Covenant and Its Vows

By Pastor Ron Jones, D.D. © Titus Institute, 2008

 

The Marriage Covenant

What is marriage according to the Bible?

1. The Scriptures clearly reveal that the first human beings that God created were a man and woman.

Gen.1:27
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Gen. 1:27 gives a general statement of God’s creation of human beings, male and female.

Gen.2:21-25 gives the details of exactly how God created Eve from Adam to provide for Adam a life partner with whom he could start a family.

Gen.2:21-22 says,
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept. And he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in that place. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

Gen.2:23 continues
“And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.’”

2. Gen.2:21-25 reveals that God created Adam first and then Eve.

God chose to do this to show Adam that he needed someone like himself, but physically different to help him create the first family and begin the development of the human race.

3. As soon as God had created Eve, he married them together as husband and wife.

Gen.2:24 says,
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.”

4. This shows God’s plan was to create Adam and Eve to be the father and mother of the human race.

And it shows that God also wanted them to be a model for every family that would descend from them (which would be all families that have ever and will ever exist).

5. In these verses, God has defined the nuclear family which is the foundation of his plan for civilization.

It is a man and woman who become husband and wife and then raise children.

Notice, the objective wording of Gen.2:24. God is instituting marriage for all mankind for all ages.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.”

6. Gen.2:24 clearly shows that God is the one who created marriage and God is the one who defines what marriage is.

7. Gen.2:24 also reveals that marriage has several important characteristics.

First, marriage is between a man and a woman. It says, “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife…”

Second, the man is to leave the physical and emotional dependency of his childhood relationship with his parents and live together with his wife as a separate family. It says, “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.”

Third, the husband and wife are to share together in romantic and sexual intimacy and all of its blessings. It says, “and they shall become one flesh.”

8. The “leaving and cleaving” of the husband and wife in marriage in Gen.2:24 implies several other elements of marriage.

It implies that they are to have a genuine love and concern for each other as husband and wife.

It also implies that they are to protect each other from harm and not physically or mentally abuse each other.

9. The words “they shall become one flesh” imply that they are not to join themselves in sexual union with any other person outside their marriage. They are to be faithful to each other.

10. God’s formal wording of Gen.2:24 also implies that the husband and wife enter a covenant relationship before God when they marry each other.

God mentions this important covenantal relationship when he later rebukes the Israelite men who were divorcing their wives when they saw other women they wanted to marry.

God rebukes them for breaking the marriage covenant they had made with their wives.

Mal.2:14 says,
“Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously. Yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant.”

Notice, that God calls wives the companions of their husbands.
He shows that marriage is a companionship, a sharing together of life’s experiences.

The husband and wife are lifelong companions.

Lastly, God calls each of their wives “the wife of your covenant.”

Marriage is a sacred covenant between a husband and wife.

So Mal.2:14 says that marriage is a covenant where the wife becomes a lifelong companion of her husband.

It is a sacred trust relationship where each promises before God to fulfill the marriage covenant.

 

The Vows of the Marriage Covenant

What are the vows (sacred promises) of the marriage covenant?

We have already defined them in Genesis 1 &2 and Malachi 2.

There are four of them.

The vows of the marriage covenant which the husband and wife agree to fulfill for life are

1. The bride and groom vow that they will leave the physical and emotional dependency of their childhood relationships with their parents and live together with each other as a separate family.

2. The bride and groom vow that they will share together regularly in romantic and sexual intimacy and all of its blessings and they will be faithful to each other, not sharing with anyone else in any romantic or sexual intimacy.

3. The bride and groom vow that they will live together as “marriage” companions, as those who share life’s many experiences.

4. The bride and groom vow that they will work together to support their family (feed, clothe, and house them and any children they might have) and support the community they live in.

When a bride and groom make these vows on their wedding days, they are promising that they will fulfill these vows for life no matter what they might experience.

They will fulfill them in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in joy and in sorrow as long as they both shall live.