What Is God’s Design For Marriage?



There is probably nothing that the world has more wrong than the picture of marriage it paints  for little boys and girls. When little girls are dreaming of their wedding days, dresses, and decorations, they have no idea of what comes next. When little boys are watching those beautiful wives in the movies, respond to their husbands’ every desire and fantasy. They have no idea how appropriate the word fantasy is. Never has the phrase bait and switch been more appropriate than when applied to ideas we grow up with of marriage.

Little boys and girls grow up with hopes and dreams about marriage. Based on these dreams, they find someone, set the date, and have the ceremony. After a short reprieve from life on a honeymoon, they come back to reality and begin to live in their marriage. And for many couples, the shock of the reality of marriage is great. Sometimes the shock is so severe that some, have buyer’s remorse.

If only someone had told us what we were really getting into. If only we would have listened and not allowed ourselves to make a lifelong decision on a few good feelings. Someone told me a long time ago that there are two things we don’t learn enough about. One is money, and the other is marriage. Then he added, “And you can mess them both up real fast.” Amen.

The God of heaven is a God of design; things work the way they do by design. The world was created in six days; the first five were to prepare for the arrival of man. The prophet Isaiah says as much:

“I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.”…For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

—Isaiah 45:12, 18

The world is governed by laws established by God—gravity, sowing and reaping, and planet alignment and rotation are just a few of those laws. Humans are also designed—our minds and bodies are no accident. With this David agrees:

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

—Psalm 139:14–16

The wise Proverb writer wrote, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both” (Prov. 20:12).

God designed the world and created humanity to live in the world he created.  It is reasonable to believe that when he created marriage, he also did so with design. The design shows the look and function or workings; design shows purpose, planning, or intention behind an action, fact, or object.

What Is God’s Design for Marriage?

In simple terms, and we will certainly say more, God’s design for marriage is for the man to lead his wife and family. Scripture will use the phrase “the husband is the head of the wife.” For some, this will be cause to put the book down, burn it, or say bad things about the author. For others, let’s keep talking. Many a person has gotten the design wrong, and thereby the function has failed.

  • If we get the design wrong, the thing won’t function as it ought to.
  • The function is determined by the design.
  • The design comes from the purpose and thought of the designer.

God’s Design (Gen. 2:18–25)

Genesis 2:18 reads, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” This is simply what it says; the design of that fact follows. Design—“I will make him a helper fit for him.” We will talk about this in more detail later in the book.

Genesis 2:19–20 explains the thought of the designer. Of the animals present before Adam, nothing was fit for him:

Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

The creation of woman was designed because nothing else was fit for the man. Genesis 2:21 tells us what God did about the situation.

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:23 provides us with Adam’s reaction to and recognition of God’s design. Adam said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” As contrasted with what? Not another woman. Adam didn’t go to e-Harmony.com, match.com, or ChristianMingle.com to find his soul mate. Neither did he sort through a hundred dates and find “the one.”  Please read the Bible: he had the animal kingdom pass before him, and he named them. He saw them and realized there was nothing in all of those like him. God made a woman, and when Adam saw her, he said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

In Genesis 2:24, God instructs Adam about what this means. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

The design of the designer determines the function of the thing designed. Design is the purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.

Our world has taken an aggressive posture against God’s design. It has replaced male leadership with female leadership or some hybrid of the two—or, for some, no leadership at all. This is not God’s design, and it is part of the problems we are experiencing in our marriages. It could be argued that we have seen what giving men this kind of power over women has produced in the past and in many instances still does.

We cannot have the marriages we desire and God intended by rejecting or changing the design of the designer who gave it to us.


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