In an April 2016 survey conducted by the Barna Research Group (www.barna.org), 1,097 interviews were conducted on the topic of cohabitation. Of those interviewed, 65% either strongly or somewhat agreed that it is a good idea to live with a “significant other” before getting married. 35% either strongly or somewhat disagreed. It is rather obvious that societal norms are shifting in regard to cohabitation and marriage. According to the same survey, 57% were currently or had previously lived with their boyfriend/girlfriend. According to the Barna website, “Older, conservative, and more religious Americans are the least likely to have ever cohabited…On the other side, younger, less religious, and more liberal Americans are more likely to have lived with a significant other before marriage.” One of the conclusions reached from this survey is stated here: “The institution of marriage has undergone significant shifts in the last century.”
While it is interesting to notice trends in society and statistics, it is important for the child of God to know why God designed the family the way He did. I also realize that there are thousands who are reading this who are not living in the United States of America. The current trends in this country may not be comparable to what is going on in other parts of the world. What we must all understand, however, is that God’s design and desire for the home is universal. There is not one nation, race, or individual who is not accountable to God (Acts 17:30-31). So, what is God’s design and intent for marriage and the home?
One stated purpose for marriage is found in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet (suitable) for him.” God saw that man, being by himself, was not a good thing and so He created the woman to correspond to the man. In this special act of creation by God, the institution of marriage was born. With this institution God gave man companionship: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Although Adam and Eve did not have physical parents, their heavenly Father stated His intent for a man and a woman who love each other – marriage. Jesus reiterated this as the will of His Father as recorded in Matthew 19:4-6. It is not God’s will that a man and woman live together outside of the holy bond of marriage (Heb. 13:4).
A second stated purpose of marriage is found in Genesis 1:28 – procreation. God created man and woman in such a way as to make reproduction possible. From the very beginning of Scripture one finds that God’s design is that children be brought into this world by a husband and wife. The wisdom of God is clearly seen in this design. When a man and a woman commit their lives to one another they are establishing a place of support and security for any children they may bring into the world. There are things that children need from fathers that they cannot get from mothers. There are things that children need from mothers that they cannot get from fathers. A godly marriage provides everything a child needs because that is God’s intent for both parents and children. Study after study has shown the adverse effects of having children outside of marriage. Statistically speaking, crime rates are higher, school drop-out rates are higher, and poverty is higher when children are not brought into the God-designed environment of marriage. Children are gifts from God and they need a safe, secure home that provides both physical and spiritual instruction from mom and dad (Ps. 127:3-5).
A third stated purpose of marriage is mentioned by Paul in First Corinthians 7:9: “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” Paul plainly commanded the Corinthians to, “Flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18). Fornication is a work of the flesh that will keep people out of the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8). The physical relationship between a man and a woman is to be fulfilled only within the bond of marriage.
Life would be so much easier if we would follow God’s revelation on marriage and the home. Single-parent homes, divorce, fornication, adultery – these things occur when people are ignorant of God’s will or ignore God’s will. Society is made up of homes. The church is made up of homes. Both society and the church suffer when men and women do not abide within God’s teaching on the home.
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