By Mark Anderson

“What therefore God hath joined together” (Mark 10:9).

Marriage is a Divine joining.  Sadly, not all appreciate the role God plays in bringing a man and a woman together and subsequently remaining with them to bless and oversee their union.  I would like to suggest that this Divine joining is twofold.  Firstly it speaks of marriage being ordained by God.

It’s something that has been in the plan and purpose of God, before sin entered this world.  When God created Adam, He decided that it wasn’t good for him to be alone and so created a suitable ‘help-meet’ for him.[1]  He brought Adam and Eve together before sin entered the world which is significant as it provides a glimpse into God’s heart and plan for His bride – the church.[2]

Not only do we read of God ordaining marriage in Genesis, but when Christ performed His first miracle, it was at a wedding, and when He returns, it will be for another wedding when He will receive His bride at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

For the Christian, marriage between a man and a woman and Christ and His church hold important truths about marriage and interestingly help the single person find a godly spouse.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

Just as Christ loves His church, so husbands are to love their wives.  Paul’s statement is about a demonstration of love.  The greatest demonstration of God’s love for individuals is the cross.[3]  Not only is God saving people, He is saving a people – a people for His Name, called out of darkness into His glorious light.  This is further emphasised as Christ is not only the Saviour of mankind, but also the Saviour of the body – His church.[4]  How can these truths help guide a single believer to find a godly spouse to be joined to?

The word ‘joined’ in my opening text can mean ‘to fasten to one yoke, yoke together’.  The picture is that of a yoke of oxen ploughing which suggests that they work in harmony with one purpose.  Paul reminds us that the child of God must not be ‘not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?’ (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Obviously this refers clearly to a relationship between a believer and non-believer.  However, I think it’s prudent to take note of the words used in addition to ‘unequally yoked’.  Words like ‘fellowship‘ and ‘communion’.  Clearly two believers can be joined together in marriage and have common interests, but do not enjoy fellowship and communion.  The physiology of man is described in various ways, but readers will be familiar with the term ‘spirit, soul and body’.  When a man and woman are joined together in marriage, they become one flesh – in spirit, soul and body.  In seeking God for a spouse these three factors must be part of a future life-time commitment.  To be one in spirit, suggests not just that the couple are believers, but that they share the same biblical beliefs.  For example if a Pentecostal man who is zealous for the power and gifts of the Spirit marries a believing woman who was brought up in a tradition which is cessationist and she is also, then inevitably there could be potential problems.  To be one in soul suggests common interests which again is important for a good marriage.  All the couples’ interests don’t have to be the same, but it is important that they have some, in which they can engage in to foster their marriage relationship.  Lastly to be one in body is about physical attraction which again is an important aspect of embarking in marriage.  However I would venture to suggest that it is not the most important as one’s physical appearance changes over the years and feelings can be deceptive.

Firstly, one needs to recognize that ultimately the choice resides with God Himself.  He decided that it wasn’t good for man to live alone and so prepared a wife for Him and brought her to Him.  Equally it could be said that God prepared Adam to meet Eve.  It’s important to appreciate that the initiative lay with God Himself and it still does but the decision to accept God’s choice of spouse resides with the man or woman.

How can a single believer position Himself to receive God’s choice of spouse?

We are the bride of Christ which Christ is preparing, purging and purifying for His wedding. 

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).

The bride is also the church whom Christ is building in preparation for the wedding.

“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b).

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Christ is building His church through His people.  As believers we are both builders and the raw materials.  Every believer has a function in Christ’s body – in His building program.  There are no exceptions and no exemptions.  Consider Christ’s message we He entrusted to His church. 

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).[5]

The message of Christ and His church is the Kingdom of God.  In other words God is King and He is ruling and reigning.  Like Christ, the Church must preach that man must repent and submit to the rule of God and let Him rule in his life.  As the body of Christ we must enforce God’s rule and bring it to bear over sin, the sick, the diseased and the demonised.  There are Kingdom ethics by which we must govern our lives as outlines in the Sermon on the Mount.  Just as the Kingdom of God was Christ’s message to a lost and dying world, so it also is the message of Christ’s church – His bride.

How can this help the single believer in finding God’s choice of spouse?

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

God’s priority must be our priority – the extension of His Kingdom – His rule.

When we seek first God’s kingdom and His kingdom righteousness, everything we need to fulfil God’s will for our lives will be added to us.  What does everything include?  Being planted in the right local church; working in the right profession; living in the right location; having the right friends; the necessary Spiritual gifts and having God’s choice of spouse.  All these things and more which are added unto us are for the sole purpose of seeing Christ’s church built and His kingdom extended in preparation for the wedding and marriage supper of the Lamb.

To the single believer who might be reading this, I would counsel you to align yourself with God’s priority:  delight to do His will; seek first His kingdom and He will arrange that unexpected Divine appointment with your future spouse.  To the marriage that already exists between a believer and unbeliever, I would encourage you with Peter’s words which are equally applicable to both husband and wife:

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

Finally marriage isn’t God’s will for everyone.  Someone once remarked that there is one thing worse than being single and that is being married to the wrong person.  The Apostle Paul wasn’t married and when one scrutinizes the life he led, being married may have prevented him accomplishing all that he accomplished.  Paul and indeed some today have been graciously given the gift of celibacy and so will not find fulfilment in marriage.[6]

[1] Genesis 2:18.

[2] Ephesians 5:31.

[3] Romans 5:8.

[4] Ephesians 5:23.

[5] Matthew 10:7; Luke 9:2; Acts 8:12.

[6] 1 Corinthians 7:7.