[CMN Home]

Marriage: The Preservation of Love

In spite of human sin and disobedience, God did not give mankind over to total self-destruction. Marriage was instituted by God to preserve love between human beings. Marriage protects sexual love between man and woman and marriage preserves love between members of a family.

Read Hebrews 13:4.

What should be honoured by all?

What happens to those who disobey?

What is marriage? Marriage is a permanent relationship of love, trust and care between one man and one woman, recognized by the society in which they live and contracted in the presence of God.

Some kind of marriage is found in all communities. Everywhere marriage is protected by laws, customs, taboos. People realized that there should be security and permanence in sexual relationships, not only for the security of the children born from these relationships, but also for the happiness of the partners. By bitter experience people have learnt that sex outside marriage brings disaster.

The traditional "lobola" custom in Africa (the giving of cattle as bride-price) was developed for this reason. It gave security to the woman and it forced the man to develop a permanent relationship with her. We have seen already that a woman needs security and permanence to obtain sexual satisfaction. And a man does not find fulfilment if his partner has no security.

Unfortunately the ~"lobola" custom does not always fulfil this aim in modern society. In an economy where money is everything, it becomes very expensive if the bride's price is payable in money. This encourages sex before marriage because marriage has to be delayed because of the lobola requirements.

However, sex before marriage opens the door to insecure relationships - the very thing which is bad for a happy marriage, and the very thing which the "lobola"-custom intended to discourage! Too many parents see the bride-price as security for themselves - instead of a security for the young couple.

Parents should not make it too difficult for their children to marry at a reasonable age, especially since nowadays the bridegroom often has to pay the lobola himself, instead of his parents.

Sex outside marriage keeps young people emotionally immature. It encourages them to think only of themselves. Sex within the responsibilities of marriage helps the young couple towards maturity. Sex can only fulfil its purpose, of enriching both partners, in the marriage-situation.

There are four binding forces in marriage. Firstly, there is the legal bond, the religious covenant or customary union recognized by the community. Secondly, there is the bond of sexual love and, thirdly, there is the bond of partnership or fellowship. Caring for and loving the children is the fourth force that helps to keep the partners together. These four forces make marriage an enriching experience which builds character in the individuals and in the community. Sex outside marriage destroys the well-being of individuals and the community. It does not build up, but it breaks down.

Read 2 Samuel 11:1-5; 12:9-14:

Make a list of all the bad results of David's sin.

Is polygamy marriage or not? Polygamous marriage, between a man and two or more women, certainly is a form of marriage, because it is intended to be permanent and is recognized as such by those societies which accept it as a form of marriage. Polygamy is not just a temporary living together of a man with two or more women.

But polygamy has certain defects which increase with the number of wives a man has. It becomes very bad if old men (with money) take young wives who should be married to younger men. It is not the Christian ideal and it should not be encouraged. In modern industrial society a polygamous marriage makes little sense, because it puts still greater strain on the ability of the husband to provide for his family.

Read Matthew 19:5-6 and 1 Timothy 3:2, 12.

To how many wives should a man be united?

How many wives may a church leader have?

Who brings a man and his wife together?

Prayer: O God, thank you for the security provided by marriage. Help  me to make mine as happy as you planned it to be. Amen.

Questions to Discuss in the Group

1. Should one marry against the wish of one's parents? Explain.

2. Should parents insist on the bride-price before they allow their daughters  to marry?

3. Should the State regulate marriages? Give reasons.

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of polygamous marriage? Think  of examples in the Old Testament.