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Marriage – A God-Given Social Institution

Written by John Pfeiffer

“And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Four thousand years after creation, the Jews were asking questions about marriage. They were both testing Jesus and looking for a way to justify divorce. Today, two thousand years later, the wicked are questioning whether traditional marriage is even a good thing. Instead, they support “living together,” and even same-sex marriage. These are they “who call evil good, and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)

The average length of a marriage in our country is slightly more than eight years. What is not included in statistics on divorce is the dissolution of non-marital cohabitations and same-sex “arrangements.” An estimated 33% of American children live without their biological father. The institution of godly marriage is teetering on the brink of collapse and the entire social fabric of our country with it.

In our text, Jesus takes us back to creation. God made them male and female and He said, “For this reason a man [a male] shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife [a female] , and the two shall become one flesh.” (verse 5) In a few words, the Creator instituted the wonderful estate of marriage.

God made them male and female. Why? The first answer: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Everything that God does for the welfare of mankind is motivated by His infinite love. If there is any doubt, one need only go to Calvary. There “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) God created the man to be a recipient of His love. Lovingly, He filled man’s world (Genesis 1:26) with a vast abundance of beauty and goodness and of flora and fauna. But it was not good enough; Adam was incomplete for his role in the world. Therefore, the loving Creator provided a companion that completed the man. What he was lacking, she provided (Genesis 2:18).

Here was the perfect social institution. There was no need for any other. All would be carried out within the family unit. Since the fall into sin, however, other social institutions are needed: religious, governmental, educational, economic. Nevertheless, each still finds its roots in marriage and the family. Leadership, religion, education, financial support—each of these begins within the family.

How thankful we are that the Lord has placed us in a spiritual environment in which “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled.” (Hebrews 13:4) Indeed, our God raises marriage to such a high level that He compares it with the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). The willing submission of the wife to her husband is compared to the Church’s submission to Christ. The self-sacrificing love of the husband toward his wife is compared with the love which caused Christ to sacrifice Himself for the salvation of His bride, the Church.

As we watch the ship of marriage being dashed to pieces on the rocky shores of America, we pray to our merciful Lord that He will continue to make us a lighthouse, sending out a beacon of truth to our fellow Americans. May this light guide them away from the mists and quicksand of secularism, so that they will find forgiveness, hope, and guidance in Jesus Christ, the steadfast Captain of our ship. Amen.

John Pfeiffer is retired from the pastoral and teaching ministry. He is a former president of Immanuel Lutheran College.