Christian eyes reading this will almost certainly miss the distinction between Christian and non-Christian marriages. Today’s Christian minds have watched Hollywood’s film version(s) from childhood, until they wear Hollywood glasses to evaluate all versions of it. Please, readers, take off those glasses, or don’t bother reading this article. This one is the Scriptural version, which is eternally different from Hollywood’s distorted excuse for it. Theirs will not serve genuine marital happiness; this one will in every case, if both marital parteners simply obey the basic Scriptural rules.
However, this article deals with only the basic foundation on which a successful marriage must be built. A couple building a life together is extremely complex and as individual as they themselves. But these basics are where they must start to build, or else their structure will finally crumble into ruins. For this reason it is important that the women carefully read these rules for men, and the men the future article on rules for women.
Adam and Eve were God’s design for the institution of human marriage. It has never been more simple nor complex than that. It has roots in Divine purpose, limbs reaching into Divine potential, and fruit borne into Divine expansion. None of these are open to humanity’s plumbing its depth, topping its height, nor comprehending its infinite expansion. A marriage without God curses its roots, starves its branches, and rots the fruit.
God created Adam instantly but with forethought. His Omniscience equipped Adam for His very next creative act. Think about it: There stood new Adam, equipped with some yet useless features until His next act. He then used Adam’s body, a rib, to tailor-make him a “help meet”(KJV), perfectly designed in every respect to that end. Here then stood the perfect couple, in perfect harmony with each other and with their Creator. But let us look carefully at the compelling evidence of what God did: He declared the Divine purpose for each of their separate designs. The Genesis account that they both were to be fruitful and have dominion is nevertheless modified by two creative acts: The indelible method in which the female was created, and God’s own personal declaration that she was designed to be Adam’s “help meet” (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-24). In plain language, the definition of “help meet” is simply a helper, an assistant, an aide. Today the helper can be a male or female helping a male or female, but to apply that mentality to understand the Genesis account is ridiculous. God’s helper was created from Adam’s rib to be equally as human as Adam himself, but created specifically in beauty, sex, mentality, soul, spirit, and purpose to complement Adam’s own design. Like Adam, however, her first allegiance was to her Creator, God Himself, not Adam.
THE SECRET SOURCE OF SUCCESS. What does this mean to marriage? Everything! It doesn’t matter how or why we leave those vital facts behind, the results are always the same. You see, the idea of male and female, how they were created, how they relate to one another, all of that, has nothing at all to do with human laws nor anyone’s religion, be it Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Atheism, or any other. Almighty God’s fiat of Adam and Eve supersedes all else. It doesn’t rely on whether it is an elaborate church wedding or a couple shacked up together, God’s design of Adam and Eve is still US, ourselves, no matter what. We males and females are literally MADE for each other, like it or not. It is still not good for man to be alone, and females are still designed to be man’s helper. Absolutely nothing will ever change that in this life.
Therefore, the Divine fiat of male and female has to be the basic source of all secrets that make marriage work. Men, note this carefully: Any deviations, and I mean ANY deviations, from God’s perspective, vividly modeled in Adam and Eve, virtually guarantees a degree of marital storms, troubled children, unfaithfulness, separation, and worse. You will be wise to absorb that truth and build on it. From this basis for reasoning, the following basic rules demand to be recognized for marital success to happen. Because all humanity consists of God’s males and females, these basics are universal truths, Christian or not, although what a truly successful marriage has to be immersed in is found only in Christianity.
1. RESPONSIBILITY. God assigns it to the male. Like it or not, men, the proverbial monkey is on our own backs, not that of the women. Why? Because of the creative order and purpose. Scripture calls the man the woman’s “head” (I Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23, not that she is brainless, but in a marriage the man is her marital authority. But you’re walking on eggs, men; remember, she is designed to think for herself, thank God. If you are going to be her marital authority, then you’d better make it your business to find out for certain what is right and what is wrong before you crown yourself with the director’s hat. She will know the difference very quick. In fact, many women can think circles around their man, and even have better sense. In that case, the most direct course to solving a problem might be to lean on her for your authoritative directions. If instead you just run over her with egotistical pride, take warning; that is a shortcut to marriage breakup. As the “head,” God expects you to be the primary self-sacrificer, just like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).
A very subtle purpose is served in this arrangement. Remember, God created Eve FROM Adam and FOR Adam. Think of what this means. Observe carefully. Imagine the wheel of a bicycle. The hub of it has an axle which allows the wheel to revolve around it. However, unless it has those little ball bearings in the hub, it will wear out very quickly and seize the wheel from turning. Well, the manufacturer had to DESIGN those bearings with great precision to fit that hub and axle perfectly. Otherwise, the whole bicycle is useless.
Just so, God made Eve with Divine precision to fit Adam, complementing him perfectly in every respect. Think about it: If the bicycle owner violates the factory specs when he replaces the wheel bearings; if he just throws any old bearing in there he can get away with, he is simply going to ruin what he is riding on. If he also fails to honor the design of his wife and jams her into his own notions, he is going to have a very unhappy wife on his hands. Simple as that. Why? Because God built her from the rib up to fit the mold He designed in Adam. Also simple as that. The minute he takes a hammer and pounds her into his own image instead of God’s he will have a marital disaster on his hands. Still simple as that. Men, her Divine design must be considered for marital bliss to happen. It seems, however, that all men start out in stone ignorance of what they did in taking a wife, but the greater ignorance is the ignorance that they are indeed ignorant.
I thought all I had to do was take a billy-club, conk me a woman, and drag her by the hair into my lair. After that I thought all there was left was to make children, keep her barefooted and pregnant, washing dirty dishes and clothes, and generally lording it over her, and she’d be perfectly happy with what I did for her. What happened? The week wasn’t out before she stole my billy-club, slammed me over the head, and generally worked me over. I stayed beaten to a pulp for decades before Mr. Ignorance finally stirred. First thing I did on awakening was to scramble around trying to figure out exactly what it was she was doing wrong. One day old Ignorance tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “It’s you, buster!” I was stunned. Me? Couldn’t be me. After all, I did exactly what Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, and good old John Wayne would do. As it turned out, the guys who knew the secret had never heard of Hollywood: Peter and Paul.
Basic responsibility and accountability are vital. Men, think very carefully on the logic of this. It isn’t at all unlike what we all know about corporate organization. Even if the business is governed by a board, yet only one person can be in charge. A fall guy is needed to take responsibility. No matter who is at fault on the corporate ladder below, it’s the person in charge that gets the ultimate blame and must fix it—or suffer a head-rolling. Well, that’s how God views marriage. The man was first, the female second. God created man from dirt, then created woman out of what was already created—Adam’s rib.
So there they both stood, each made in God’s image, both endowed with free wills of their own, both responsible to God for their behavior. However, they were now a family with Adam responsible as to how his family conducted life’s business. That’s why when things go wrong on the ladder God taps the man on the shoulder and says crisply, “Adam, you fix this!” Husband Adam must then go about searching for resources (including his wife) to fix it. It had better be a good fix to please God first, then his wife. The worse thing he can do at this point is simply take hands off, turn around, and isolate himself in a corner of his own house as the proverbial walls cave in on him. God will never let him off the hook by simply shrugging and telling God, “Lord, it’s this obstinate woman you gave me” (Genesis 3:12, paraphrased).
If she is indeed at fault for the breach, men, you’d best not hook thumbs under suspenders and throw all the blame on your wife. While you’re gloating over your righteousness, God is telling you to pick up the pieces, forgive, make changes in your own behavior toward her, win back her affections, and make your business of marriage a profitable enterprise again. God will certainly judge you if you fail to make that effort. Remember the rule here: The males and females of humanity are equally and individually responsible to God for the welfare of their souls, but once they marry, yet another institution is in place with the man as the head of the family. The proverbial buck stops with him, not his wife, so far as the family is concerned.
2. GOD’S FEMALE. Another basic rule falls quite naturally from the man’s basic responsibility. It is in regard to the unique nature God so beautifully designed into the female. Since Eve was designed for Adam, “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23), He shaped not only her body for Adam, but formed her a nature to match as well. Just like God gave her a body in need of his attention, he gave her a nature that also needed Adam’s attention. It is actually who a woman is designed to be. “Approval” is the key word describing how she naturally feels toward her chosen mate. She has no control over who she was created to be. She just requires her man’s praise, his desire of her, his affections for her. To her, such treatment is God’s prescribed medicine, to be dispensed by her man. If he draws back from giving it, she grows sicker from it’s lack and resents him for it. She goes about in the home as his “Help meet,” while he goes about taking her for granted, failing to tell her both verbally and otherwise that he appreciates her, loves her, that she pleases him in beauty and in fulfilling her role as a wife and mother. A man who is mute toward his woman in word and in deed, will simply have a woman who is starving for what her man alone is able to give her. Depending on her personality, her reaction will range from bitter sobs to violent temper, from scathing words to cold silence—especially in bed. A man shallow of understanding will conclude that he surely married the wrong woman, while she is convinced that she married the wrong man, all because her husband operated in ignorance of what God expects of him. Such ignorance is marriage’s deadliest enemy because that is the Devil’s playhouse!
A husband who ignores this basic creative priority of his wife’s God-given nature is virtually guaranteed a mountain of marital troubles. Look at it this way, men: Suppose you purchased for yourself a beautiful sports car, for which you sacrificed a lot to own. But then once you have it in your carport, instead of babying it like most men do with such cars, you begin treating it like your old rattle-trap pickup! You ignore it, never wash and wax it, even use it to haul off the garbage. Dents? You could care less. Well, I’m no prophet, but I predict with amazing accuracy that you won’t own that fancy car long simply because you failed to give yourself to it’s beauty and maintenance. Simple as that. And let’s face it, men, you thought it was just what you wanted to begin with or you’d never have bought it. I dare say that all your buddies who saw that beautiful car, and then how you treated it like your old beat-up pickup, probably figured you had a cog loose yourself that needed fixing. Especially if you finally dragged it to the dump and bought another beauty to replace it. They’d say, “Wow! that guy has rocks for brains!” It always amazes me how some guys fall all over themselves for that beauty in the driveway, but seem to care less about that one in the house.
3. WORD AND DEED. Another basic rule topples out of that one: How a man is to implement his basic responsibility toward his wife. Guys, ask your woman. She will tell you without stuttering two simple words in very simple order: WORD and DEED. BOTH! Not just one. Why? Because that amounts to his giving his whole self to prove to her how much she pleases him. If he is all talk and no action, she feels cheated out of his affections. If it’s all action and no words, she feels cheated out of assurance of his sincerity. Either way, she stands there unfulfilled and somewhat suspicious. God’s created nature in her to be approved and accepted by the man she chose to marry stands there in frustration. Trust me, she’s going to let him know about it in some way he’s not going to find very pleasant.
4. THE SPIRITUAL. Finally, men, it behooves all of humanity to recognize that marriage is far more than a physical union. Now, that is one Hollywood missed by a country mile! The simplest of logic tells us that if God had created another category of humans besides males and females who were never meant to physically unite for reproduction, then while He was creating them He would have designed them that way. He did no such thing. We call those with mixed equipment freaks of nature whose DNA went awry. No, God did no such thing. He built a man, made a woman out of his rib, and designed them both to physically unite into a family. This obvious fact of nature renders the idea of evolution nothing short of lunatic. Therefore, because God’s own purpose went into Adam and Eve in how He designed them, together with His command to populate the Earth, the Divine spark of it makes us both physical and spiritual in our marriages.
The act, then, of ignoring or dismissing God’s part in marriage is tantamount to having the ceremony in a dynamite factory, using fireworks to celebrate! The spiritual side of Marriage must be recognized and honored, with the husband as its head, exactly as Christ is the Head of His bride, the church, who loved it and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).
That, gentlemen, is the so-called secret of marital success. You will find it in no other place than in simple obedience to God’s original design.