So, what does the Bible actually say about marriage? What did God say?
Gen 2:24; Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
In the past when I read this scripture, the only principle I saw being put forward was marriage. But now I see in this verse of scripture another principle that is equally—if not more—important than the principle of marriage.
Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother…
God spoke first about the principle of adulthood. What is this about?
It is destined that every offspring should outgrow the direct tutelage of their parents and begin to make their own decisions. It is a phase of life that every human being is supposed to get into. A phase where parents take the backseat in the life of the individual and s/he begins to acts autonomously, independent of parental control (or the control of any elder at all), bearing full accountability for his/her actions.
This principle applies to both male and female.
Pro 22:6; Train up a child in the way [he] should go, and when [he] is old, he will not depart from it.
Maturity first, then marriage. Maturity not necessarily meaning chronological age, but self-sufficiency. Independence. Emotional, intellectual, financial, and spiritual independence.
After that He talked about marriage.
…and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one (echad) flesh
Mat 19:4-6 And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and [He] said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Two people with independent thought make a decision. No rings, no priest, no church, no parents. It is the two that become one. God does not do the joining …directly. It is their joint decision that God honours. Thus, God’s joining is actually a function of what the two people first did. I don’t know if that makes sense? I will try to explain further.
It seems God attributes great power to agreement.
Gen 11:6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one (echad), and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Amos 3:3; Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Mat 18:18-19 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
The two are joined because they decide to cleave to one another. Not because the parents do any giving or receiving. Not because a priest comes to bless them. Not because they exchange rings.
The fundamental principle here is agreement.
The agreement of the two of them. It is strictly between two of them. Once they agree, God also agrees with them and they are joined. There is nothing religious about this. It is all about principle. Just like with any other principle like faith or thermodynamics, whoever applies the principle of agreement will get the required results. That is, any two people, a man and a woman, who come to an agreement of being exclusively committed to each other, irrespective of whether or not they know God, are married. What God honours is the agreement between the two people, not their religious inclination.
With their mutual agreement they activate a divine principle. It is not only the marriage of christians that are valid in the eyes of God.
Parental consent and/or blessing is not a requirement for a valid marriage in the eyes of God. That is culture. That is human tradition. It has nothing to do with God.
… and they two shall be one flesh.
It is not the man marrying the woman. It is the man and the woman marrying each other. It is two that become one. The joining involves the active participation of two people. People often make the assumption of some divine ideal that it is the man that God ordained to initiate the marital relationship, because He said, ‘a man shall cleave to his wife’. Well, if we decide to look at this scripture that way, then every other assumption that that logic makes room for should also be acknowledged. That means we should also honour the assumption that the man cleaves to the woman and makes a new home with her and her family. After all, it is not written that she will also leave father and mother.
But we don’t do that. We acknowledge that what God said was that two will become one, so it has to mean that they will both leave to form a new unit. Thus, if it that is so—and indeed it is so—that just as he will leave father and mother, she will also leave; then, the divine order is that man will marry woman and woman will marry man. And…woman can initiate the relationship and man can initiate too. God has nothing to do with chivalry and the whole man-hunts-woman-idea. Ruth initiated her relationship with Boaz. The female was not made to be given away to any man. She is made to find her own man, just as he would also find her, and the two will give themselves to each other (in the presence of family if they so choose).
Now we talk about third parties. In laws. He cleaves to her and she cleaves to him. He does not cleave to her family, and she does not cleave to his. We say in Nigerian culture that the wife belongs to her husband and his family. This is wrong and completely anti-God. Marriage is not between the woman, the man and his family. The woman does no belong to her husband’s family. The man and woman belong to each other. The union is strictly between two people. No third parties.
Finally, God did not say, the two shall become him or the two shall become her. He said, the two shall become one. In other words, the two shall become a new, neutral one. Therefore, if there will be any compromises, it should and must be from both sides. God never instituted that kind of marriage where the woman loses herself, while the man remains intact.
So, there we have it. The principle back of it all is agreement between two adults. Two autonomous people. That is the only thing God instituted. It is very simple; so simple we miss it. So simple we belittle it and decide to complicate it with so many other unnecessary rules.
Does that mean it is wrong to have all these other things and people involved? No, not at all. Only that we must never forget that every other thing aside the mutual agreement and I mean, every other thing, is an extra that the inclusion/involvement of them is subject to the preference and choices of the man and woman involved. They are not needed per se. The man and the woman hold the exclusive rights to decide if they want rings, parents, party, fancy clothes, etc. This is why marriage is for people who have become adults; independent in thought, emotions, spirit and economic might. The adult can exercise his and her God given rights without guilt or manipulation from third parties.
Women, do not just be found. You too find. Why? The hunter is the one in control. God has made man and woman to both be the hunter and the hunted. The two balance each other out and the risk of oppression and tyranny is cancelled out.
What we have today in popular culture is the curse in Gen. 3:7. Women are too needy of men and men take advantage of that to misbehave with impunity. It was sin that birthed patriarchy. That is, that practice where if a woman has no man she feels inadequate. It is why a woman will be desperate to marry, and will marry a clear vagabond of a man. It is why women constantly disgrace the precious image of God that they are, reducing themselves to the base behavior of cat-fighting in public over a man.
This is why Paul taught mutual submission. Paul read Genesis. It is what is written in Gen. 2 that he was talking about in Ephesians 5.