By Jennifer Waddle, Crosswalk.com
There are many things we can base our marriages on, including deep connection, physical attraction, and compatibility. But none of these things make for secure marriages that flourish within the will of God.
While couples may set healthy standards, and rightfully so, it’s not a playbook of rules that will keep marriages from straying. In fact, author Eric Ludy has this to say:
“No matter how many rules we make for ourselves, rules don’t create Godly relationships. Only leaning on our faithful Father and longing to please Him in everything we do will set the stage for a beautiful romance.”
As you seek to strengthen your marriage, and lean on the Lord for provision, here are 7 Scriptures to base your marriage on.
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1. Genesis 2:22-24
Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
The wording of this familiar, yet foundational passage, includes every essential role for a strong marriage. Not only does it acknowledge God as the divine Creator, who formed Eve from Adam’s side, it demonstrates the beautiful way God presented her to Adam as his perfect companion.
Genesis 2 also includes Adam’s role, as the man who deeply valued his wife as flesh of his flesh. And finally, this passage places Eve in the receiving role of taking Adam as her husband in complete unity and oneness.
As one commentary described it, “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.
If married couples could view their union in light of God’s perfect order of things, as described in Genesis 2, many struggles for both dominance and submission could be eliminated. Instead of striving for headship or struggling to surrender, there would be an equally submissive beauty to the marriage that allowed for both husband and wife to live in peaceful tandem.
Base your God-given and unique roles in marriage on verses like Genesis 2:22-24, and learn to receive one another in unity and oneness.
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2. Proverbs 5:18-19
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
The first time I heard a pastor preach from this Bible passage, my husband and I were attending a one-night marriage seminar in our church. I remember my face turning red with embarrassment, as my husband’s parents were sitting right beside us and his grandparents were sitting directly behind us!
For some reason, the mention of “breasts” in church made me terribly uncomfortable. In fact, I was surprised the pastor was able to preach so openly about it!
Now, twenty-five years later, I have a new appreciation for Proverbs 5:18-19. The sacredness of the marital union is not only beautiful, it is a gift from the Lord. When deep intimacy is lost, or never enjoyed from the beginning, couples may stray towards superficial forms of sexual satisfaction. Unfortunately, when sexual purity is missing in marriage, all kinds of issues arise.
Proverbs 5:18-19 is not only a reminder to remain faithful to your spouse, it is a call to focus on enjoying sexual intimacy. According to this article, Rekindling Intimacy, “Couples spend an enormous amount of energy lamenting their sexual challenges and blaming each other. If they channeled that same energy into solving the problems together, they could find great intimacy — even in the midst of their struggles.”
In this transparent article, Christian Sex: 6 Steps to Fulfilling Sexual Intimacy in Marriage, the author emphasizes purity while also encouraging couples to embrace sex as “one of the most powerful ways to bless their marriage.”
Base sexual intimacy in your marriage on verses like Proverbs 5:18-19, and rekindle the God-given blessing of sexual satisfaction.
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3. Ephesians 5:22-29
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
The depth of meaning in this important passage often intimidates couples, causing them to shy away from it. Some wives even feel angered at the thought of submitting to their husbands, while some husbands abuse their God-given role as head of their wife.
The key to remember is, by first committing to Christ, both husband and wife can be perfectly content in both the role of submission and the role of leadership. It is important to keep in mind that it is reverence that governs this Bible passage, not regulation. Trusting in God’s perfect order, out of reverence for Him, allows couples to accept their roles willingly and without partiality.
In the post, What You Need to Know about the Meaning of Submission in the Bible, the author writes, “Submitting means putting others before yourself; it means not always doing what you want to do. It means putting God's desires above your desires.”
Base your own “give-and-take” in marriage on verses like Ephesians 5:22-29, and experience peaceful submission to God and to each other.
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4. 1 Corinthians 7:3-6
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command.
While couples should not base their marriages solely on sex, it should be a major priority. Why? According to this article, “A wife must understand that temptation can get a foothold when her husband’s sexual needs (including the need to feel desired by his wife) remain unmet.”
This doesn’t excuse unfaithfulness in any way, but it does emphasize the importance of consistent intimacy in marriage. Not only do husbands need their wives to desire them, they need to be assured that sexual intimacy is a constant in the relationship.
For wives who struggle with desire, (a more common problem than you think), help can be found. The key is to want help and seek the guidance necessary through both spiritual counseling and honest conversations with a trusted doctor.
This article reminds us, “The truth about sex is that God ordained and designed it to bring mutual pleasure in marriage. As in all of life, you're called to live by the truth. Admit your negative attitudes and feelings but don't serve them. With God's help, you can choose to affirm His plans for sex.”
Base your beliefs about sex on verses like 1 Corinthians 7:3-6, and regain a healthy view of your spouse’s needs.
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5. Proverbs 21:9
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
If you’ve been around other couples who fight openly with each other, you’ve likely experienced the uncomfortableness of feeling caught in the middle. While disagreements and even heated arguments do arise in marriage, there are ways of handling them with tact and integrity.
The word-picture of Proverbs 21:9 leads us to imagine a weary husband huddling on the roof of his house, just to get away from his quarrelsome wife. On the flip side, this imagery can also relate to a fed-up wife escaping to the roof just to get away from her argumentative husband.
Either way, the Scriptures make it clear that no one enjoys living with a volatile, quick-to-argue person. Especially for the peace maker in the relationship, constant arguing can lead to anxiety and depression. If constant fighting is an issue in your marriage, consider these tips to help you or your spouse stop this harmful behavior:
Listen more than you speak.
Love more than you judge.
Think before you react.
Choose your words carefully.
Calm down before discussing heated issues.
Pray for wisdom before you state your opinion.
Let the little stuff go.
This article, by Dr. David Hawkins, director of The Marriage Recover Center, advises this: “Fighting is a very debilitating process. If you are struggling with breaking free from ongoing patterns of conflict, please reach out for help.” He goes on to remind couples that “Marriage was intended to be a safe haven, relatively free from conflict.”
While it isn’t easy to break the persistent habit of arguing over every little thing, it can be done. Start with an honest, unheated conversation and make a plan to squelch this harmful behavior.
Base your reactions on verses like Proverbs 21:9 to avoid being a quarrelsome husband or wife.
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6. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This often-quoted passage, while not only applicable to marriage, is truly a foundational passage for couples trying to navigate the ups and downs of their relationship. The thing to remember is, all married couples go through difficult seasons. And all couples need the guidance of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
Perhaps nowhere else in Scripture is there a more thorough description of what love is and what love is not. Although the Godly attributes listed in this passage are clear-cut, they are also challenging. For example, our patience is tested as we learn what it means to yield to one another in love. Envy and pride raise their ugly heads without warning. And there’s always the temptation to keep a record of our spouse’s wrongdoings. Our flesh rebels against God’s standards of true love.
However, couples who take this passage to heart, and commit to implementing love’s Biblical attributes, will find themselves in a much healthier place than those who are trying to implement the world’s definitions of love. According to this post, “When it comes to love, humanity’s version is but a pale shadow compared to the truth of God’s love.”
The sooner couples recognize that their definition of love pales in comparison to the love described in the Scriptures, the sooner they can begin putting into practice the characteristics described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Base your definition of love on verses like 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, and watch the love in your marriage begin to flourish.
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7. Matthew 19:8-9
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
While divorce is a complicated issue, with many variables to consider, this passage from Matthew 19:8-9 points out a very important factor—Moses permitted divorce, not for justifiable reasons, but because people’s hearts had become hard.
From the beginning, God’s intention has been for couples to work through conflict and do whatever it takes to make their marriages thrive. But man’s ways are not God’s ways. They have hardened their hearts against God’s original design and have decided to take matters into their own hands.
How accurately Jesus’ words, spoken thousands of years ago, describe the reason for the majority of divorces today. People’s hearts have become hard. Not only are Christian couples splitting up just as often as secular couples, they are coming up with every excuse under the sun to justify it. See if any of these excuses resonate with you:
“I just don’t love him/her anymore.”
“I got married too soon.”
“I’ll be happier without my spouse.”
“There is no adultery, but I’m miserable.”
“It doesn’t matter what my spouse does to change—it’s too late.”
Again, there’s no denying that divorce is a complicated issue, and there are Biblical reasons to end a marriage according to the passage in Matthew 19. But if couples would seek professional Christian counsel at the first sign of trouble, perhaps many marriages would work their way through seemingly impossible situations. And, if couples would do a personal heart-check to ensure a hard heart isn’t the root cause, a lot of divorces would likely be prevented.
Base your commitment in marriage on verses like Matthew 19: 8-9, and don’t allow a hardness of heart to govern your decisions.
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