o see something or a statement in context is to evaluate it in/within its original meaning, letís take the bible as an example, many times we quote or teach from a verse in isolation without preceding and after verses, too often the isolated statement is out of context and wrongly applied.
Marriage is an institution. An institution is a way for humans to manage a set goal or principles. Marriage is very important to God, as a fruit to a sinful world and to physically demonstrate (or show as example) the spiritually relationship of Christ and the Church. It is also to be the institution where godly children are raised, so that Godís laws and principles are passed down from one generation to another. So, in His infinite wisdom, God made man, the institutional head and woman the helpmate (to love and respect each other) and their children obey them in the Lord. Marriage is one of the three institutions that God Himself created/started - the others are Government and Church.
In my opinion, it is important for us to look at the marriage institution from a broader perspective; perhaps it might help some in their marriage journey. As humans, I believe we existed before our physical birth (see Jeremiah 1: 5-10) and we will exist (see John 14: 1-4) after physically departing this world. In this world, we will spend 0-120 years, designed to Worship (Romans 12: 1) and Glorify or Father in heaven (John 15: 8) through fulfilling our purposes (assignment) on earth. God has given us many roles in the world, a spiritual child, an earthly child, a husband, a wife, a brother or sister, a doctor or teacher, a Sunday school teacher or pastor or missionary, a politician or government technocrat, and lots more, three of those roles are fulfilled in the marriage institution (if applicable to us) Ė a parent (Dad or Mom), a child and a spouse (husband or wife).
God in His infinite mercies (would not leave nor forsake us), have chosen to give us (New Testament believers) Ė adequate instructions in the Bible to fulfilling our different roles in the marriage institution, and obviously for other roles in government or church institutions (we can apply those principles to man-made institutions such as education, religious, media and entertainment etc. or wherever we find ourselves). Knowing our nature, He also gave us Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit living within us and directing our every move if we do allow Him.
God clearly spells out, the roles of every participant in the Marriage Institution, the Man Ė the head, the Woman Ė helpmate, and the Child Ė listen to parents, the instructions are clearly articulated in the bible (Mal. 2: 16, Book of Proverbs, Colossians 3: 18-25, Ephesians 5 and lots more), unfortunately Ė out of context interpretation (cultural, convenience, etc.) has (continue to) messed up biblical teachings on marriage institution roles. Our flesh or human sinful nature also do not desire to follow this laid down principles or laws that is supposed to govern our conducts in the marriage institution, rather than simply follow the principles, our flesh use intellect and emotion to justify reasoning our way out of Godís instruction.
Marriage would have been heaven on earth, but for a little problem in the Garden of Eden which led to the fall of man from the original state (and Godís intent) to a sinful nature, one that now must contend with Satan (through the mind), a corrupt and sinful World System (institutions influenced by Satan) and the sinful nature we as humans inherited after the fall in the Garden of Eden. With the coming of Christ as the Messiah, we humans now have a permanent alternative to reconnect back to God, and live a life worthy of His calling on our lives. We can now face and defeat Satan (not in our strength but Godís), we can face the barrage of the World System and learn to crucify our flesh and let the Christ in us take over the daily governance of our lives.
Every role God has given to us in this world (including those within the marriage institution), must now contend with these three enemies of our soul and us being obedient to Godís word and have a strong fellowship with the Holy Spirit that comes within us after we accept Christ as Lord and Savior.
In our world today, Satan using the World System (using man-made institutions of education: elementary to college, religion: different theologies and doctrines, media: lies perpetuated based on evil worldview, entertainment: movies, television, fashion, music, etc.) have greatly influenced the culture, particularly the marriage institution. Today, as you read this Ė the institution itself is being redefined away from Godís definition of ďa man and a wifeĒ to whatever works, the institutional administrative structure put in place by God has long being challenged and more and more, we humans are replacing Godís principles and rules for marriage and parenting with man-made rules that always end in trouble.
As one called and gifted to uphold Godís laws and principles in the Marriage institution, I realize that my first assignment is not your marriage, but mine, if I cannot practice what I am teaching then I fit the definition of a hypocrite (and many fit that bill Ė deliberately or not), Iíve also realized that I cannot function as the head of my home, if my own personal relationship with God is not in order or if Iím not following His principles for my life Ė period (not in any role). So, seeing marriage in context is not complicated Ė first, I get to know God personally and His Word. Secondly, I seek to start applying His word (laws and principles) in the many roles He called me into on earth (Husband and Dad included), then as I trudge along, I start to teach others how His word (and the Holy Spirit) taught me, along with whatever human wisdom (intellect I applied) Ė I must however, be quick to say when something is mine and not His word.
Viewing our marriages sin context of the overall goal/purpose of God for us on earth is important (because marriage is only for this world, it would not be applicable in heaven). At the same time, we realize that here on earth Marriage as an institution is very crucial to Godís agenda on earth. As a marriage statistics junkie, it is always amazing to me to view data after data, on the importance of a healthy marriage Ė the kids do well by far (emotionally, spiritually, psychologically etc.), only 6.8% of married people are in poverty compared to 36% of single homes (Heritage Foundation), over 70% of the worldís wealthiest are married and a healthy marriage not only affect marriage but affects longevity on earth - a healthy marriage is good all around.
So how can one have a healthy marriage within Godís parameters for the Marriage Institution? 1. Make sure you have a relationship with God and are doing your best to following His principles by dying to yourself (sinful nature). 2. Make sure the person you are marrying, also have a relationship with God and he/she loves the Lord enough to give total devotion. 3. Get to know each other Ė Nature (personality etc.) and Nurture (view of life), donít seek to change each other but learning how to complement each other 4. Communicate and resolve your conflicts (donít avoid them), donít force your view on each other, explain yourself, validate each other and let God lead. The man as the head, make the final decision after seeking God, and a godly wife, learns how to encourage and get God after her husband not with her nagging. 5. Team up to raise Godly children. You will have to attend a marriage conference to get more details
Realize that your marriage, as with your other roles are within a broader view of your life on earth, and all being successful in all your roles that starts with you getting it right with God firstÖ