Do You Really Appreciate God’s Gift of Marriage?
“May Jehovah make a gift to you, and do you find a resting-place each one in the house of her husband.”—RUTH 1:9.
LOOK FOR THE ANSWERS:
Why can we say that past servants of God appreciated his gift of marriage?
How do we know that Jehovah is concerned about our choice of marriage mate?
What Bible counsel on wedlock do you plan to apply in your life?
1. Describe Adam’s reaction when he received a wife.
“THIS is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken.” (Gen. 2:23) How happy the first man, Adam, was to receive a wife! No wonder he waxed poetic! After Jehovah had caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, He created this beautiful woman from one of the man’s ribs. Adam later named her Eve. God united the two in happy wedlock. Since Jehovah used Adam’s own rib as a base for creating her, Adam and Eve were closer than any present-day husband and wife.
2. Why are men and women drawn to one another?
2 In his inimitable wisdom, Jehovah planted within humans the capacity for romantic love—a quality that would draw men and women together. Says The World Book Encyclopedia: “A man and woman who marry hope to share a sexual relationship and a permanent romantic attraction.” That has happened countless times among Jehovah’s people.
THEY WERE GRATEFUL FOR THE GIFT OF MARRIAGE
3. How did Isaac acquire a wife?
3 Faithful Abraham had a high regard for marriage. Therefore, he sent his eldest servant to Mesopotamia to obtain a wife for Isaac. Prayer by that servant brought good results. God-fearing Rebekah became Isaac’s beloved wife and played a part in Jehovah’s arrangement for preserving Abraham’s seed. (Gen. 22:18; 24:12-14, 67) We should not conclude from this that a person—well-meaning though he or she may be—should become an unsolicited matchmaker. In present-day society, many make their own choice of marriage mate. Of course, marriages are not made in heaven, but God will guide Christians in this and other aspects of life if they pray for direction and are led by his spirit.—Gal. 5:18, 25.
4, 5. What convinces you that the Shulammite and the shepherd had special feelings for each other?
4 A beautiful Shulammite girl of ancient Israel did not want her friends to pressure her to become one of King Solomon’s many wives. She said: “I have put you under oath, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you try not to awaken or arouse love in me until it feels inclined.” (Song of Sol. 8:4) The Shulammite and a certain shepherd did have special feelings for each other. Humbly, she said: “A mere saffron of the coastal plain I am, a lily of the low plains.” Ah, but the shepherd replied: “Like a lily among thorny weeds, so is my girl companion among the daughters”! (Song of Sol. 2:1, 2) They truly loved each other.
5 Because the Shulammite and the shepherd primarily loved God, their marital bond would be strong indeed. In fact, the Shulammite said to her beloved shepherd: “Place me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; because love is as strong as death is, insistence on exclusive devotion is as unyielding as Sheol is. Its blazings are the blazings of a fire, the flame of Jah [for it is from him]. Many waters themselves are not able to extinguish love, nor can rivers themselves wash it away. If a man would give all the valuable things of his house for love, persons would positively despise them.” (Song of Sol. 8:6, 7) When weighing wedlock, why should a servant of Jehovah settle for anything less?
A CHOICE THAT MATTERS TO GOD
6, 7. How do we know that God cares about our choice of marriage mate?
6 Jehovah cares about your choice of marriage mate. With regard to inhabitants of Canaan, the Israelites were commanded: “You must form no marriage alliance with them. Your daughter you must not give to his son, and his daughter you must not take for your son. For he will turn your son from following me, and they will certainly serve other gods; and Jehovah’s anger will indeed blaze against you, and he will certainly annihilate you in a hurry.” (Deut. 7:3, 4) Centuries later, Ezra the priest declared: “You yourselves have acted unfaithfully in that you gave a dwelling to foreign wives so as to add to the guiltiness of Israel.” (Ezra 10:10) And the apostle Paul told fellow Christians: “A wife is bound during all the time her husband is alive. But if her husband should fall asleep in death, she is free to be married to whom she wants, only in the Lord.”—1 Cor. 7:39.
7 If a dedicated servant of Jehovah married an unbeliever, this would be an act of disobedience to God. The Israelites of Ezra’s day acted unfaithfully by giving “a dwelling to foreign wives,” and it would be wrong to try to water down the plain statements of the Scriptures. (Ezra 10:10; 2 Cor. 6:14, 15) A Christian who marries an unbeliever is not exemplary and lacks real appreciation for God’s gift of marriage. Entering such a union after baptism can cost one some privileges among God’s people. And it would be illogical to expect blessings while admitting in prayer, ‘Jehovah, I deliberately disobeyed you, but please bless me anyway.’
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER KNOWS BEST
8. Explain why we should follow God’s guidance on marriage.
8 The maker of a machine knows exactly how it works. If the device needs to be assembled, he can provide the necessary details about it. What if we ignore the instructions and assemble the pieces in our own way? The results are likely to be disastrous—if the machine works at all. Well, if we are to fulfill a desire for happy wedlock, we must follow the instructions provided by Jehovah, the Maker of marriage.
9. Why can we say that Jehovah understands feelings of loneliness as well as the happiness possible in marriage?
9 Jehovah knows everything there is to know about mankind and marriage. He implanted a sexual need in humans so that they would “be fruitful and become many.” (Gen. 1:28) God understands feelings of loneliness, for prior to creating the first woman, he said: “The man’s being alone is not good; I will make him a helper to match him.” (Gen. 2:18, Byington) Jehovah is also fully aware of the joy possible within the bonds of matrimony.—Read Proverbs 5:15-18.
10. What factors should govern the intimate relations of Christian marriage mates?
10 Because of the sin and imperfection passed on to the human race by sinful Adam, no present-day marriage is perfect. Among Jehovah’s servants, however, wedlock can result in true happiness if God’s Word is followed. For instance, consider Paul’s clear counsel on intimate relations in marriage. (Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-5.) It is not Scripturally required that marriage mates limit sexual relations to efforts to produce offspring. Such intimacy can rightly fill emotional and physical needs. But perverted practices certainly do not please God. Christian husbands and wives will undoubtedly want to handle this important aspect of their life with tenderness, allowing them to display genuine affection for each other. And, of course, they should avoid any actions that would displease Jehovah.
11. How was Ruth blessed for doing things Jehovah’s way?
11 Wedlock should be filled with joy, not unhappiness and drudgery. Especially should a Christian home be a place of rest and peace. Consider what happened some 3,000 years ago when the aged widow Naomi and her widowed daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, were on the road from Moab to Judah. Naomi urged the younger women to return to their people. The Moabitess Ruth stuck with Naomi, was faithful to the true God, and was assured ‘a perfect wage from Jehovah, under whose wings she sought refuge.’ (Ruth 1:9; 2:12) With great appreciation for God’s gift of marriage, Ruth became the wife of elderly Boaz, a true worshipper of Jehovah. When resurrected on earth in God’s new world, she will be delighted to learn that she became an ancestress of Jesus Christ. (Matt. 1:1, 5, 6; Luke 3:23, 32) What blessings she received for doing things Jehovah’s way!
SOUND COUNSEL FOR SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE
12. Where can one find sound counsel on wedlock?
12 The Maker of marriage tells us what we need to know about successful wedlock. No human knows as much. The Bible is always right, and the only way anyone can direct attention to sound counsel on marriage is to stick to the standards set out in the Scriptures. For instance, the apostle Paul wrote under inspiration: “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Eph. 5:33) There is nothing about such Biblical counsel that mature Christians cannot understand. The question is, Will they apply Jehovah’s Word? They will if they really appreciate his gift of marriage.*
13. What may result from failure to follow the counsel found at 1 Peter 3:7?
13 A Christian husband is to deal lovingly with his wife. The apostle Peter wrote: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” (1 Pet. 3:7) A husband’s prayers can be hindered if he does not apply Jehovah’s counsel. The spiritual condition of both mates is likely to be affected detrimentally, possibly leading to great stress, quarrels, and acts of harshness.
14. A loving wife can have what influence on family life?
14 A wife who is guided by Jehovah’s Word and his holy spirit can do much to make her home a place of tranquillity and happiness. It is natural for a God-fearing husband to love his wife and protect her physically and spiritually. She yearns for his love, and that requires that she be lovable. “The truly wise woman has built up her house,” says Proverbs 14:1, “but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” A wise and loving wife contributes greatly to the success and happiness of her family. She also shows that she really appreciates God’s gift of marriage.
15. What counsel is found at Ephesians 5:22-25?
15 Husbands and wives who base their union on Jesus’ example in dealing with his congregation show gratitude for God’s gift of marriage. (Read Ephesians 5:22-25.) What blessings spouses enjoy when they truly love each other and never let pride, the childish silent treatment, or other unchristian traits mar their marriage!
LET NO ONE PUT THEM APART
16. Why do some Christians remain single?
16 Although most people plan to get married at some point in life, certain servants of Jehovah remain single because they cannot find a mate pleasing to them and to Him. Others have the God-given gift of singleness, allowing them to devote themselves to Jehovah’s service without the distractions of marriage. Of course, singleness is to be enjoyed within the limits set by Jehovah.—Matt. 19:10-12; 1 Cor. 7:1, 6, 7, 17.
17. (a) What words of Jesus regarding marriage should we bear in mind? (b) If any Christian should even begin to covet another person’s marriage mate, what should he do without delay?
17 Whether single or married, all of us need to bear in mind Jesus’ words: “Did you not read that he [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Matt. 19:4-6) Coveting another person’s marriage mate is a sin. (Deut. 5:21) If any Christian begins to entertain such a covetous desire, he or she should act quickly to rout out the unclean desire, even at the cost of great emotional pain because of having allowed selfish cravings to develop. (Matt. 5:27-30) It is vital to correct such thinking and suppress the sinful yearning of a treacherous heart.—Jer. 17:9.
18. How do you feel that we ought to view God’s gift of marriage?
18 Even many of those who have known little or nothing about Jehovah God and his wonderful gift of marriage have shown at least a measure of gratitude for the marital bond. How much more so should we who are dedicated to “the happy God,” Jehovah, rejoice in all of his provisions and give evidence that we really appreciate God’s gift of marriage!—1 Tim. 1:11.
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A good marriage honors Jehovah and can bring great happiness to everyone in the family
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Ruth showed appreciation for God’s gift of marriage
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Do you show that you really appreciate Jehovah’s gift of marriage?