Marriage by Scott Bushey
god's law



I have been married to Tina for 13 years. My parents have been married for 50 plus years. I met a couple once who was married for greater than 65 years. I asked them what was their secret? The husband announced, “kindness and forever forgiving”. I believe he was onto something!

A. W. Pink said:

“A word of warning is, perhaps, not quite needless. No matter how carefully and prayerfully one’s partner be selected, he will not find marriage a perfect thing. Not that God did not make it perfect, but man has fallen since, and the fall has marred everything. The apple may still be sweet, but it has a worm inside.”

Whenever I counsel anyone on the topic of marriage, mind you, no one is an expert on the subject except the Lord, some are more able than others to expound on the subject, I tell them, ‘If you want to see just how far you bend, get married’. Most recent surveys show that the institution is in decline-in most cultures. My personal 2 cents on that is that the fact that the divorce rate is so high. Many are aware of the repercussion of divorce, whether it be financial or the scarring of children in the marriage. In the United States, 40-50% of first time marriages end up in divorce. The percentage jumps for those who are in second marriages.

I have a few friends who were strong believers who are now divorced. This is surely crushing to my heart, sad but true. These were dear brothers. The church is not outside of this problem. This side of glory, there will be sin and where there is sin, there is flaw and fault. We will fall short. Jesus Himself said that if there is adultery, divorce is an option. Keep in mind, without having to qualify every statement in this paper, in this case, we all know that God hates divorce and what He wants is repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation. As well, it is my opinion that most people, even believers, go into this union with the idea that it is a rent to own situation. This is wrong on so many fronts. But what is a pastor to do? How can one guarantee that the parties understand that marriage is forever binding when the divorce rate in the church is so high?

Marriage is sanctifying; it stretches, it refines; It is humbling. The successful marriages are ones that each person denies themselves for the sake of their mate and takes up their cross like Jesus commanded. They serve each other, learn from each other, grow in the Lord together. They understand that they are as flawed as the next person and leave plenty of room for their failures as well as their mate. We all know that love passage in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13:

4       Love is patient,a love is kind.

Love does not envy,

is not boastful, is not conceited,

5       does not act improperly,

is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.

6       Love finds no joy in unrighteousness

but rejoices in the truth.

7       It bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

The Westminster Confession ch 24:

I. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.

II. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.

III. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And, therefore, such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.

IV. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man, or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together, as man and wife. The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own, nor the woman of her husband’s kindred nearer in blood than of her own.

V. Adultery or fornication, committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce, and after the divorce to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.

VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments, unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage; yet nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage; wherein a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it, not left to their own wills and discretion in their own case.

The Westminster Larger Catechism states:

Q. 137. Which is the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Q. 138. What are the duties required in the seventh commandment?
A. The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency, conjugal love, and cohabitation; diligent labor in our callings; shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto.

Q. 139. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.

Obviously, we will discuss the marriage covenant. God, the creator has always been a God of family. It is the way the Lord works, as we will see.  His purpose is to glorify Himself and as well to proliferate creation with one goal in mind; that being to give to the Son His elect as covenanted before the foundation of the world.

John Piper writes:

“I have tried to show from Scripture that the main meaning of marriage is to display the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. In other words, marriage was designed by God most deeply, most importantly, to be a parable or a drama of the way Christ loves his church and the way the church loves and follows Christ. This is the most important thing for all husbands and wives to know about the meaning of their marriage…. marriage is for making children . . . disciples of Jesus.”

Gen. 2:18   And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

The word Help in the Hebrew is defined as:

499. אֶלְעָזָר ʾElʿazar, el-aw-zawr´; from 410 and 5826; God (is) helper; Elazar, the name of seven Israelites:—Eleazar.

Eleazar was the son of Aaron and the nephew of Moses. He was a Levite priest. I make mention of him due to the fact that the word is used elsewhere in scripture in regards to military force and strength.

Think about that; How the Levites were commissioned specifically for the services of Temple sacrifice and worship. In the same way, the word ‘help’ is used here. It is often used as well in how God came to ‘help’ Israel in their time of need or how Israel ‘helped’ other surrounding tribes.

Gen. 2:20 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.

It looks as if either Adam or God considered the situation and saw that the man needed help with things. Among all the animals that Adam just named, there was not a sufficient helper available. Man’s best friend?

Gen. 2:21   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 instead thereof;  22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.  23 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.  24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Not to sound cliché, but notice that the portion taken from the man is not from his head, nor from his waist, but from the mid-chest area; under his arm. When the man holds his wife close to himself with his arm wrapped around her to protect and comfort, it says much to what God actually did. Think about it; God created animals with different genders and scripture does not say he used the rib or side of the male gendered animals to create the female ones. So, this is significant. The better rendering in the Hebrew is side, not rib; or half of the side of Adam.

Notice in verse 24 it says that the man and woman become ‘one flesh’. It does not say ‘one spirit’. This is a great mystery. How is it that my wife and I are ‘one flesh’. Look at us, we have two hearts, 4 lungs, 4 eyes, 4 ears, etc. In Mark it further presses the point home:

Mark 10:8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.

Please, someone explain this to me?

One Jewish commentator writes:

“Marriage is the most supra-rational and supra-natural endeavor undertaken by man. For two individuals to become one flesh is to violate all the laws of ego and identity, to overcome the basic existential rule that one and one makes two. Marriage thus requires the activation of the encompassing powers of all those involved. There are three partners to a marriage — man, woman and G‑d — and each party contributes the supra-existential dimension of its existence.”

Eccl. 4:9   Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, ibut how can one keep warm alone?  12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

In Malachi it says:

Mal. 2:13   And this second thing you do. wYou cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.  14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.  15 Did he not make them one.

Here we have the first marriage ceremony. God Himself presiding over it. This says much to believers who marry in the Lord! It is God who is presiding over your union. Most believers miss the trees for the forest! When the pastor takes the pulpit, it is God speaking. Do you understand this and are you processing that information. How often we all come to worship as if it is another day in the life. We drag ourselves out of bed and wash our faces; we present to the local church with a frown upon our faces. We are not eager to meet with the God who lives. We act more energetic when we go out to purchase a new computer. This is to our shame. In the same way, divorce in the community of God is as high as the world.

Since God created marriage, it is fitting that we understand how this covenant came about;

In the past we have spoken about the covenant of redemption. This is the covenant, outside of time, in eternity past, before creation, between the Godhead. It is specific to the Father and the Son. It is the Father and Son agreeing to give the Son a gift upon His faithful execution of this covenant.

“In Reformed theology, the pactum salutis has been defined as a pretemporal, intratrinitarian agreement between the Father and Son in which the Father promises to redeem an elect people. In turn the Son volunteers to earn the salvation of his people by becoming incarnate…by acting as surety of the covenant of grace for and as mediator of the covenant of grace to the elect. In his active and passive obedience, Christ fulfills the conditions of the pactum salutis…ratifying the Father’s promise, because of which the Father rewards the Son’s obedience with the salvation of the elect. And because of this the Holy Spirit applies the Son’s work to his people through the means of grace.”

David Van Drunen & Scott Clark: Covenant, Justification and Pastoral Ministry, p. 168

I suggest for further reading:

1) Samuel Rutherford, “The Covenant of Life Opened”

2) James Durham, “Christ Crucified: The Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53”

The essence of this pact is that Christ is the groom and the church the bride. You will not find the reference, ‘Bride of Christ’ or a direct statement that Christ is actually the bridegroom.

The book Song of Solomon/Song of Songs/Canticles is said to be a type of Christ and His bride. Traditionally, Judaism sees it as an analogy between God and Israel. Is it just analogous or is it as well, literal? Typological? Or both? What we can take from that is that it is generally understood between Christ and the church; it is collective and individual.

It is an official stamp of approval for the marriage bed and the love that should be between the husband and the wife. It is a steamy story and is an expression of those things that are fruits of the marriage. It is not pornographic as Mark Driscoll has called it, wrongly. Although, it must be mentioned that Solomon had numerous wives, which is befuddling in many ways. It is quite possible that this portion of Solomon’s writings were an evidence of his repentance later in his years. One would hope so.

13     The fig tree puts forth her green figs,

And the vines with the tender grapes

Give a good smell.

Rise up, my love, my fair one,

And come away!

14     “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,

In the secret places of the cliff,

Let me see your face,

Let me hear your voice;

For your voice is sweet,

And your face is lovely.”

15     Catch us the foxes,

The little foxes that spoil the vines,

For our vines have tender grapes.

16     My beloved is mine, and I am his.

He feeds his flock among the lilies.


James Durham writes:

“Because the Subject and Matter of it is so Divine, carrying alongst with it many various Cases, both of particular Souls, as also of the Church, both visible and invisible, with many excellent commendations of Christ the Bridegroom, which ought to be the Subject of his Friends Meditations, and cannot but be profitable, if he bless them; there being here Maps, almost for all Conditions.”


Since it is analogous, it is as well, prescriptive for the marriage of man and woman; it reinforces the idea that marriage is for the genders of different sexes.

Let’s look at some passages that speak of the idea:

In Ezekiel we read:

Ezek. 16:6   “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, “Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’  7 I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare.

Ezek. 16:8   “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 16:9   “Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil.  10 I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk.  11 I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck.  12 And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.  13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty.  14 Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 16:15   “But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it.  16 You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor be.  17 You have also taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot with them.  18 You took your embroidered garments and covered them, and you set My oil and My incense before them.  19 Also My food which I gave you—the pastry of fine flour, oil, and honey which I fed you—you set it before them as sweet incense; and so it was,” says the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 16:20   “Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter,  21 that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire? 22 And in all your abominations and acts of harlotry you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, struggling in your blood.

John 3:27   John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.  28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’  29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.  30 He must increase, but I must decrease.  31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

And here in Mark:

Mark 2:18   The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

Mark 2:19   And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.

In these passages, it is implied; Christ never assigns the title to Himself, directly.

Again, here is Matt:

Matt. 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

Matt. 25:6   “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

Matt. 25:11   “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

Matt. 25:13   “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.


Then in the book of revelation:


7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Rev. 19:9   Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’

And here:

Rev. 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.  2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Rev. 21:9   Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

And then, finally:

Rev. 22:17   And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.


The concept of Christ and the bride is acquired by what is called good and necessary consequence. As mentioned in the past, there are many doctrines that are obtained like this. Yes, the reformed are sola scriptura, but that does not negate this truth or concept as we derive this from logic and biblical deduction of the facts.

Having said this, we have the doctrine. Christ is bridegroom and the church, His bride.  If the believing husbands will wrap their brain around this fact and what the gravity is when Christ tells us to ‘love our lives like Christ loves the church and gave Himself for it’, marriages would be fewer based alone on this gravity and those that exist would have less issues, I promise.

The marriage covenant between man and woman is a typology for Christ the bridegroom and the church the bride. The antitype would be our earthly marriages. How can I say this is based again on the idea that the initial covenant of redemption was outside of time.

God creates man and then brings Adam his wife; she is a helpmate for the man, forever. It is a perpetual binding of the two; Notice that the word covenant is used; this is the same word used to describe all the other covenants God made.

1285. בְּרִית briyth, ber-eeth´; from 1262 (in the sense of cutting (like 1254)); a compact (because made by passing between pieces of flesh):—confederacy, (con-)feder(-ate), covenant, league.

Marriage is a covenant between two created individuals; it is conditional. Both parties are responsible to hold up their agreement to love each other, to honor each other, to remain faithful. You might ask, “Scott, I thought Berith had to do specifically with ‘cutting’?” Was not Adam cut when his side was opened?

Marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride. The church is the bride and Christ is the groom. The elect will never perish. The elect cannot fall away. Divorce is impossible. We are wed for all eternity. Look at what Christ says about how husbands are to treat their brides:

Eph. 5:25   “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,”

I have been thinking deeply about this passage lately. As you all know, I was the best man at my friend John’s wedding recently. The apostle is comparing our marriage with Christ’s bride. The level of sacrifice on the husband’s part is akin to Christ dying on the cross. The comparison is crushing. The level of love that Christ conveyed in this event is immeasurable. The level of punishment He took on was immeasurable. Husbands are called to the same level of sacrifice and love. We are called to ‘give ourselves up’ for our wives. We are called to be nailed to a cross if need be. We are called to take all her weaknesses and faults and take them upon us as if they were ours. We are to throw ourselves in front of moving busses and bullets to protect her.

God hates divorce. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says:

Matt. 19:8   He told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning.

Marriage is between a man and a woman. We arrive at this position based on God’s word alone. In weeks passed, we discussed our worldview, which is based on God’s word. The world is redefining this decree. The worlds view is not the biblical view.

Marriage was instituted for procreation, primarily. It is not for convenience. Two people of the same gender cannot procreate. Love is not the driving force behind marriage. It is to glorify God. Look again at what is said in the book of Malachi:

Mal. 2:14   Yet you ask, “For what reason?” Because the LORD has been a witnessa between you and the wife of your youth.b You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partnerc and your wife by covenant.d 15 Didn’t the one God make us with a remnant of His life-breath? And what does the One seek?a A godly •offspring.

Marriage is a institution

Timothy Dalrymple writes:

“A Stradivarius is a violin made from by a member of the Stradivari family, especially Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), out of spruce, willow, and maple, with some minerals and a varnish such as vernice bianca (gum arabic, honey, and egg white) likely used to treat the wood.  The strings, of course, are made of horse hair.
On a merely material level, a Stradivarius is nothing special.  Its elements are crude.  Wood, egg white, and horse hair.  Yet these very ordinary materials are fashioned together in extraordinary ways.  If the whole violin were made of spruce, then it would not transmit sound in the way it does.  The ways in which the elements merge together, the wood and the minerals and the varnish, are based in the physics of sound and materials: the density of the wood shapes the quality of the sound, the tightness of the string and the size and shape of the chamber craft its resonance, and so on.  And the elements and the exquisite way in which they are grafted and crafted together, are teleological; they serve a purpose, in this case the creation of music.”

The institution of marriage is unique to God’s creation. Animals do not get married.

Modern day marriages, even within the church follow a worldly principle. You find a mate that is initially appealing to the eye. This is not a bad thing, mind you. A lasting marriage needs an attraction. Jacob was attracted to Rachel, but not Leah, her older sister.  The next phase is courtship. The man generally asks the girl out on a date. These dates allow for the pair to see if they are a right fit. The next phase is generally physical, i.e. hand holding, kissing and petting. This point in the relationship is crucial in that many believers fall into sin at this point. It is difficult to start a flame and then extinguish it. My suggestion, keep your eyes on Christ, serve together in ministry, go out in groups. Following this time, the pair will decide if God is actually calling them to each other or respond in the flesh about moving forward. If you’re sinning by abusing physical limits, I can bet dimes to donuts that you will be in the flesh when making this decision.

Since Mary was betrothed to Joseph, is it a good example of how our marriages should be? In Tina and my situation, it was akin to a betrothal. We were best friends for 7 years, engaged for 6 months and our first kiss was at the altar.

Mary and Joseph were betrothed; back in the day, the federal heads of each family decided on this arrangement. Many thing were considered, i.e. the family’s standing in the temple, the community, business, was there a sufficient dowry?

This says so much for Mary and Joseph. Culturally and biblically speaking they were staunch people. They submitted to the federal headship as commanded by the Lord. They understood that the marriage covenant was perpetual. They understood that a marriage must work and if both parties involved are sold out to the Lord, the Lord will bring the increase; it is not in their flesh. So they fix their eyes like flint towards Him who is able.

Gen. 24:52   When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the earth before the LORD.  53 And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments.  54 And he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there. When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me away to my master.”  55 Her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.”  56 But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the LORD has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.”  57 They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.”  58 And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.”  59 So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men.  60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him!”

The participants in the betrothal had the option to agree or disagree; we don’t see anyone in scripture disagreeing, however.  Even though their federal head arranged it and the participants had to agree, if the betrothal was problematic on the wedding day, the father could renege on the previous arrangement and the agreeing daughter could say nothing.

Another thought could be: As well, since the church and Jesus are an type for us to look at in this respect, does the church have the option to refuse?

Hosea 2:19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD

Here is something from the Talmud on the subject; it supports the idea that the woman had a choice:

In all cases, the Talmud specifies that a woman can be acquired only with her consent, and not without it.

Kiddushin 2a-b.

“A certain man betrothed [a woman] with a mat of myrtle twigs. Said they to him, ‘But it is not worth a perutah!’22 ‘Then let her be betrothed for the four zuz it contains,’ replied he.23 Having taken it, she remained silent. Said Raba: It is silence after receipt24 of the money, and such silence has no significance.25 Raba said: Whence do I know26 this? For it was taught: If he says to her, ‘Take this sela’ as a bailment ,’ and then he says to her, ‘Be thou betrothed unto me therewith’, [if he made the declaration] when giving the money [and she accepted it without protest], she is betrothed; after giving the money: if she consented, she is betrothed; if not, she is not betrothed. What is meant by ‘she consented,’ ‘she did not consent’? Shall we say: ‘she consented’ means that she said ‘yes’, and ‘she did not consent,’ that she said: ‘no’?”

The responsibilities of the husband and wife:

The man is the federal head; Federal headship does not denote inferiority; it is more of a legal responsibility of the husband. The scriptures state that the woman is a weaker vessel;

1Pet. 3:7   Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Women are soft, emotional, tender creatures and on may occasion less emotional when we are making important decisions; this is why God made women the way he did. One can see how things balance out. Men are rough around the edges. We smell and scratch ourselves in odd fashions. We watch sports on television. This is not to say woman do not watch sports or scratch like an ape at times-some do, often. Generally speaking, woman are most cognizant of this raw animal behavior that most men exhibit.

Lets look at the scriptures and see what they say about the headship:

1 Cor 11:3

1Cor. 11:3 But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.

Here we have the hierarchical order; it is instituted of God and is not open for changes. With this order comes a great responsibility. The believer understands the mandate; it is not so that the man can lord it over his wife, but treat her continually as the bride of his heart. To protect her, gently keep her and nurture her in the ways of God so that the world is unable to creep in and cause conflicts. I want to again, repeat the passage I spoke of earlier in light of the statements I made above:

Eph. 5:25   “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,”

Think about that for a minute.

Federal is from the Latin foedus which means a covenant. You can see a good example of Federal headship in the book of Hebrews:

Heb. 7:4   See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!  5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers,* though these also are descended from Abraham.  6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.  7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.  8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.  9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham,  10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

What this is saying is that Levi was a descendant of Abraham and though he hadn’t been actually born yet, gave tithes to Melchezidek. How can that be? Because Abraham was the federal head in that family line and so, when Abraham tithed, it was akin to Levi tithing.”

Here’s another passage in Romans:

Rom. 5:12   Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and vso death spread to all men* because wall sinned—  13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

Adam was out federal head. In the same way, Christ is our federal head when we speak of how salvation is imparted to the elect. So, following this same vein of thought, since man is the head of woman, he is the federal head of his wife. The husband is to love his wife like Christ loves His bride, the church. For sure, this passage in Ephesians can only be understood, obviously in light of the level of grace given you about the theology of Christ. How could a man rightly love his wife as Christ loves the church if he has a skewed view of Christ and that love Christ exhibits in His sacrifice at Calvary? Hence, here is where the problem exists in the church today. If Christians only knew what Christ meant when He said:

Matt. 10:37 vWhoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Not many people understand this in light of the gravity it is presented in. I always tell people, think like a Jew of the age; that will help clarify.

As well, if one has a skewed view of covenant, one will never understand these things rightly; that’s why you see me mentioning covenant so often when we meet; it is at the base of everything theologically; God is a God of covenant and in that he is a God of families as this flows from covenant. Covenant say the husband and wife are a unified front; Misunderstanding this principle, like most the unregenerate world understands it, is a prescription for disaster. It is not ‘we’, but you and I.

So the husband is to tenderly, with the greatest level of love and patience, guide and direct his family, taking this responsibility with all seriousness, as he will be held accountable to a higher degree than a single man or a woman. He is to provide financially for the family-it is not the woman’s job to provide. If my wife told me today that she was quitting her job, I would have no recourse. We would have to make ends meet or downgrade. The man is the protector; he should do all he can to provide a secure setting for his family and if need be die for them as Christ has died.
I have an alarm system installed on all the doors and windows; I have a secured hand gun. I have a fire extinguisher. Life insurance, health insurance. We are to protect their ears and eyes. If we hear a bump in the night, it is I who will get up. If we are out and a situation arises, it is I who separates the family from the scenario and step in front of it. Open doors for your spouse and children-be aware of all situations for their sake.

If a woman is single, her father is her federal head. The pastor is her pastor, but her biological father is her federal head; if she has questions, if he is a believer, she should go to him prior to speaking with the elders or pastor. Doing otherwise usurps his federal headship and may be sinful.

If a woman is single and 45 years old and her father has passed on, the pastor would then be her federal head as she has no one else. Her mother, if still living, couldn’t be her federal head as federal heads are male. If a woman is single and engaged, her fiancé is not her federal head yet.

The wife and her responsibility:

Proverbs chapter 31:

Prov. 31:10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

11     The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

12     She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

13     She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.

14     She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.

15     She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.

16     She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17     She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

18     She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.

19     She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

20     She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21     She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

22     She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23     Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.

24     She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25     Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

26     She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27     She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28     Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

29     “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

30     Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31     Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

Men, if you have a woman who is any portion of what is described here, count your blessings and thank the Lord. These things are not easily obtained and only through prayer, reading of God’s word and the Holy Spirit are they brought about. In essence, they are miraculous!

The first and most important thing would be as help mate. Read your bible as it will guide you on how to practically live this facet out. Pray hard for him. Look to the Lord for answers as God answers the prayers of faithful prayers. Keep your man satisfied so that he does not fall into temptation-this as well goes for the men. The bible does not have a specific book on sexuality, but there is enough in Song of Solomon that can give you an idea of a Godly relationship and how that works. Our affections should always be rooted in God’s word. The gift of sexual relations is not to be trifled with-it is a gift and should be seen as such. It would not be a bad thing to consider praying before you have any physical contact. Most people will struggle with this idea as they disconnect the act from God. It is seen as more personal and fleshly-and it can be if we treat it as such. Since we are one flesh, neither party has authority over their own body:

1Cor. 7:4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Eph. 5:28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Deprivation can be sinful and will lead to sin. Make sure your mate is satisfied. The scriptures do say that it is ok to have a physical separation of sorts for a season of prayer. The husband and wife can determine these seasons-they should not be irrational, i.e. in anger, used as a leverage.

Martin Luther writes:
“In the second place, after God had made man and woman he blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply” [Gen. 1:28]. From this passage we may be assured that man and woman should and must come together in order to multiply. Now this [ordinance] is just as inflexible as the first, and no more to be despised and made fun of than the other, since God gives it his blessing and does something over and above the act of creation. Hence, as it is not within my power not to be a man, so it is not my prerogative to be without a woman. Again, as it is not in your power not to be a woman, so it is not your prerogative to be without a man. For it is not a matter of free choice or decision but a natural and necessary thing, that whatever is a man must have a woman and whatever is a woman must have a man.

For this word which God speaks, “Be fruitful and multiply,” is not a command. It is more than a command, namely, a divine ordinance [werck] which it is not our prerogative to hinder or ignore. Rather, it is just as necessary as the fact that I am a man, and more necessary than sleeping and waking, eating and drinking, and emptying the bowels and bladder. It is a nature and disposition just as innate as the organs involved in it Therefore, just as God does not command anyone to be a man or a woman but creates them the way they have to be, so he does not command them to multiply but creates them so that they have to multiply. And wherever men try to resist this, it remains irresistible nonetheless and goes its way through fornication, adultery, and secret sins, for this is a matter of nature and not of choice.”

From the Directory for the  Publick Worship of God

The Solemnization of Marriage:

“Acknowledging our sins, whereby we have made ourselves less than the least of all the mercies of God, and provoked him to embitter all our comforts; earnestly, in the name of Christ, to entreat the Lord (whose presence and favour is the happiness of every condition, and sweetens every relation) to be their portion, and to own and accept them in Christ, who are now to be joined in the honourable estate of marriage, the covenant of their God: and that, as he hath brought them together by his providence, he would sanctify them by his Spirit, giving them a new frame of heart fit for their new estate; enriching them with all graces whereby they may perform the duties, enjoy the comforts, undergo the cares, and resist the temptations which accompany that condition, as becometh Christians.”

The prayer being ended, it is convenient that the minister do briefly declare unto them, out of the scripture,

“The institution, use, and ends of marriage, with the conjugal duties, which, in all faithfulness, they are to perform each to other; exhorting them to study the holy word of God, that they may learn to live by faith, and to be content in the midst of all marriage cares and troubles, sanctifying God’s name, in a thankful, sober, and holy use of all conjugal comforts; praying much with and for one another; watching over and provoking each other to love and good works; and to live together as the heirs of the grace of life.”

After solemn charging of the persons to be married, before the great God, who searcheth all hearts, and to whom they must give a strict account at the last day, that if either of them know any cause, by precontract or otherwise, why they may not lawfully proceed to marriage, that they now discover it; the minister (if no impediment be acknowledged) shall cause first the man to take the woman by the right hand, saying these words:

I N. do take thee N. to be my married wife, and do, in the presence of God, and before this congregation, promise and covenant to be a loving and faithful husband unto thee, until God shall separate us by death.

Then the woman shall take the man by the right hand, and say these words:

I N. do take thee N. to be my married husband, and I do, in the presence of God, and before this congregation, promise and covenant to be a loving, faithful, and obedient wife unto thee, until God shall separate us by death.

Then, without any further ceremony, the minister shall, in the face of the congregation, pronounce them to be husband and wife, according to God’s ordinance; and so conclude the action with prayer to this effect:

“That the Lord would be pleased to accompany his own ordinance with his blessing, beseeching him to enrich the persons now married, as with other pledges of his love, so particularly with the comforts and fruits of marriage, to the praise of his abundant mercy, in and through Christ Jesus.”

The First Book of Discipline:

Of Marriage

“A register is to be carefully kept, wherein the names of the parties so married, with the time of their marriage, are forthwith to be fairly recorded in a book provided for that purpose, for the perusal of all whom it may concern.”

Because that marriage, the blessed ordinance of God, in this cursed Papistry has partly been contemned, and partly has been so infirmed, that the persons conjoined could never be assured of continuance, if the bishops and prelates list to dissolve the same; we have thought good to show our judgments how such confusion in times coming may be best avoided.

And first, public inhibition must be made that no persons under the power and obedience of others, such as sons and daughters, [and] those that are under curators, neither men nor women, contract marriage privily and without knowledge [of their parents, tutors, or curators, under whose power they are for the time]: which if they do, the censure and discipline of the church [ought] to proceed against them. If the son or daughter, or others, have their heart touched with desire of marriage, they are bound to give that honour to the parents that they open unto them their affection, asking of them counsel and assistance, how that motion, which they judge to be of God, may be performed. If the father, friend, or master, gainstand their request, and have no other cause than the common sort of men have (to wit, lack of goods, or because they are not so high-born as they require), yet must not the parties whose hearts are touched make any covenant till further declaration is made unto the church of God. And, therefore, after they have opened their minds to their parents, or such others as have charge over them, they must declare it also to the ministry, or to the civil magistrate, requiring them to travail with their parents for their consent, which to do they are bound. And if they, to wit, the magistrate or ministers, find no just cause why the marriage required may not be fulfilled, then, after sufficient admonition to the father, friend, master, or superior, that none of them resist the work of God, the ministry or magistrate may enter in the place of the parent, and by consenting to their just requests may admit them to marriage. For the work of God ought not to be hindered by the corrupt affections of worldly men. The work of God we call [it], when two hearts (without filthiness before committed) are so joined, that both require and are content to live together in that holy bond of matrimony.

If any man commits fornication with the woman whom he required in marriage, then do both lose this foresaid benefit, as well of the church as of the magistrate; for neither of both ought to be intercessors or advocates for filthy fornicators. But the father, or nearest friend, whose daughter being a virgin is deflowered, has power by the law of God to compel the man that did that injury to marry his daughter. Or, if the father will not accept him by reason of his offence, then may he require the dot [dowry] of his daughter; which if the offender is not able to pay, then ought the civil magistrate to punish his body by some other punishment.

And because that fornication, whoredom, and adultery, are sins most common to this realm, we require of your honours, in the name of the Eternal God, that severe punishment, according as God has commanded, be executed against such wicked offenders. For we doubt not but such enormous crimes, openly committed, provoke the wrath of God, as the apostle speaks, not only upon the offenders, but also upon such places as where, without punishment, they are committed.

But to return to our former purpose: marriage ought not to be contracted amongst persons that have no election for lack of understanding; and therefore we affirm, that bairns [children] and infants cannot lawfully be married in their minor age, to wit, the man within fourteen years of age, and the woman within twelve years, at the least. Which if it chance any to have been, and have kept their bodies always separate, we cannot judge them bound to adhere as man and wife, by reason of that promise, which in God’s presence was no promise at all. But if in the years of judgment they have embraced the one the other, then by reason of their last consent, they have ratified that which others did promise for them in their youth.

In a reformed church, marriage ought not to be secretly used, but in open face and public audience of the church. And for avoiding of dangers, it is expedient that the banns be publicly proclaimed three Sundays (unless the persons are [so] known, that no suspicion of danger may arise, and then may the banns be shortened at the discretion of the ministry). But in no wise can we admit marriage to be used secretly, however honourable that the persons are. The Sunday before sermon we think most convenient for marriage, and it to be used no day else without the consent of the whole ministry.

Marriage once lawfully contracted, may not be dissolved at man’s pleasure, as our master Christ Jesus does witness, unless adultery is committed; which, being sufficiently proven in presence of the civil magistrate, the innocent (if they so require) ought to be pronounced free, and the offender ought to suffer the death as God has commanded. If the civil sword foolishly spares the life of the offender, yet the church may not be negligent in their office, which is to excommunicate the wicked, and to repute them as dead members, and to pronounce the innocent party to be at freedom, be they never so honourable before the world. If the life is spared (as it ought not to be) to the offenders, and if the fruits of repentance of long time appear in them, and if they earnestly desire to be reconciled with the church, we judge that they may be received to participation of the sacraments, and of the other benefits of the church (for we would not that the church should hold those excommunicate whom God absolved, that is, the penitent).

If any demand, whether that the offender after reconciliation with the church, may not marry again: we answer, that if they cannot live continent, and if the necessity is such as that they fear further offence of God, we cannot forbid them to use the remedy ordained of God. If the party offended may be reconciled to the offender, then we judge that in nowise shall it be lawful to the offender to marry any other, except the party that before has been offended; and the solemnization of the latter marriage must be in the open face of the church like as the former, but without proclamation of banns.

This we do offer as the best counsel that God gives unto us in so doubtsome a case. But the most perfect reformation were, if your honours would give to God his honour and glory, that ye would prefer his express commandment to your own corrupt judgments, especially in punishing of those crimes which he commands to be punished with death. For so should ye declare yourselves God’s true and obedient officers, and your commonwealth should be rid of innumerable troubles.

We mean not, that sins committed in our former blindness (which are almost buried in oblivion) shall be called again to examination and judgment. But we require that the law may now and hereafter be so established and executed, that this ungodly impunity of sin have no place within this realm. For in the fear of God we signify unto your honours, that whosoever persuades unto you that ye may pardon where God commands death, deceives your souls, and provokes you to offend God’s Majesty.”

Top 10 Biblical Ways to Acquire a Wife 

10. Find a prostitute and marry her. (Hosea 1:1-3)

9. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. (Ruth  4:5-10)

8. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim  her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)

7. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one  and carry her off to be your wife. (Judges 21:19-25)

6. Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his  daughter for a wife. (I Samuel 18:27)

5. Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. (Esther 2:3-4)

4. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his  flock. (Exodus 2:16-21)

3. When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have  seen a woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision,  simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.” (Judges 14:1-3)

2. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage.  Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years  for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen  years of toil for a woman. (Genesis 29:15-30)

1. Have God create a wife for you while you sleep. Note: this will cost you  a rib. (Genesis 2:19-24)

~The list above is taken from Facebook, obviously biblical, and the author is unknown.


I pray this paper blesses you; I am not a marriage counselor. I am a nurse by profession and I love God’s word. So much more can be said on this topic; I have barely scratched the surface and most likely have missed many important facets. But this is what the Holy Spirit showed me so that’s what I have written.