Marriage – Design and Dysfunction

In God’s Word, we see His design for marriage but in our lives and world we don’t have to look far to realize something has gone wrong. What do we see when we look at God’s design? 


In the first 3 chapters of Genesis, we must start with recognizing that both man and woman are created in the image of God. They both reflect the nature of who God is in their own unique ways. 


We see God’s design is for marriage to be between one man and one woman. This was God’s design from the beginning and is still His plan. 

We see Adam and Eve worshipping and walking with God and they are at peace with God, each other, and God’s creation. 

Then we see that they have an enemy, the Devil. He is their enemy, because he is God’s enemy and they belong to God. 

Later we see the woman and the man fail to live up to what God has called them to do and give into the lie that God is not as good as He says He is. That He did not really say what they think He said. That autonomy from God will provide freedom. 

When they eat of the tree and go against God’s plan, Word, and design, they are ashamed. Broken. Sad. They then are scared of the voice of God. They used to receive joy from God, one another and creation. Now there is no peace with any of the 3. 

They are now told 2 things about the future. 

  1. That their relationship and their work will be marred and marked by sin and suffering.  
  2. That God has a plan to redeem their lives and His people through their far-off offspring, Jesus. 

In the rest of the Old Testament we see 2 things that mark the marriages of God’s people.

  1. Their sin and the natural, God given, consequences of breaking God’s design for marriage. 
  2. God’s faithfulness to them and His promises despite their sin. 

In the New Testament we see Paul use marriage as a metaphor for the love that the Father has for His church. 

This is remarkable in a number of ways, but is instructive both theologically and practically for our marriages today. 

First, it shows that marriage is a picture of something bigger than our human institution. It is to be the most apt human picture of God’s love for His people. 

Second, it gives us a model for how to love in the context of marriage. 

Third, we see that marriage is to be a covenant, as the Father has made with us, and not a contract that is law based. 

Fourth, the passages in Colossians and Ephesians speak of Gospel-centered marriage as being a covenant between 2 people that are first submitted to their God. 

In 1 John 4:7-21, we see God’s definition for love. Love is not defined by feelings, contracts, romance, or human institutions. Love is defined for us in verse 10. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Love does not start or end with us. It starts and is perpetuated, recaptured, and defined by God’s loving action towards us. Our love for Him and for others is a response to He who first loved us! This is the supernatural power that brings marriages back from the dead just as it raises our dead in the flesh life out of the grave to give us spiritual life. 

What a glorious truth, but this is not the end of the scriptures and it is not the end of God’s story of marriage. 

In Revelation 19 we see the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We are told that the Bride, His church, is prepared for the marriage feast. Who is the Groom? Who is the one the feast is about? It’s about the lone heavenly father and the sacrifice of the lamb, Jesus. Our marriages are to point to this moment in the future when God is ultimately glorified and we are most satisfied as we were in the very beginning in the garden. 

This theology and quick survey of scripture should inform our marriage counseling. 

We can get lost in the “he-said, she-said” part of marriage counseling where we find ourselves refereeing a couples latest conflict. We can find ourselves buried under the sheer volume of sin and suffering that a couple is experiencing and not even know where to start. 

We can reach a point where we find ourselves (sometimes rightly) taking sides and lose sight of the point and power behind marriage. 

When we look at God’s word and the reality of ALL of our marriages, we see that something has gone wrong.

We need to go back to God’s word to find not only biblical principles for marriage, but the power of the Gospel for marriage.  

Written by:
Jason Blackley
Grace Community Church

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