God's Design for Marriage According to Scripture

Marriage is an intimate union unlike any other relationship on earth. God designed marriage and has a purpose for it that goes far beyond companionship and procreation. From the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem, Scripture reveals fascinating truths about how and why God instituted marriage.


In the beginning, God created man and woman in His image and joined them together in marriage (Genesis 1:27). He designed marriage and family before there was any government, church, or other social institutions. Marriage is God's doing. It was His very first gift to mankind.

Marriage is the firmest foundation for building a family. God intended it to be a loving, lifelong relationship between one man and one woman. He created marriage as a good thing for our benefit and enjoyment. Within marriage, the husband and wife can fulfill their God-given responsibilities and roles to each other, their children, and society.

God Designed Marriage to be Sacred

The Bible teaches that marriage is sacred and is not just a human agreement. God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), so He decided to “make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Then the Lord caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and fashioned Eve from his rib. When Adam awoke, he poetically declared, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).

This first marriage symbolizes that husband and wife are to be “one flesh” and share a deep spiritual, emotional, and physical closeness that goes beyond a casual commitment or legal contract. God joins them together and their union is sacred.

Marriage Is Meant to Be Honored

Because marriage is sacred, the Bible commands that it is to be honored by all. Hebrews 13:4 declares, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Marriage is not to be taken lightly because it bears God’s seal of approval.

The purity of marriage is important to God. Adultery and sexual immorality contradict the sacredness of marriage. God promises He will judge all who defile marriage through sexual sin.

God Joins Husband and Wife Together

When a man and woman exchange marriage vows, God binds them together as one and changes their status from being single to being married. Jesus reemphasized this truth when the Pharisees questioned him about divorce. Jesus replied, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

Marriage is more than just a human decision. God joins husband and wife together in a covenant relationship. Malachi 2:14 speaks to this spiritual connection: “...she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”

So we must be careful not to separate what God has joined together. While divorce is permitted in certain biblical cases, it is never required or commanded. Ideally, marriage is for life and should not be ended for unbiblical reasons.

Roles Within Marriage

The Bible gives divine principles for how husbands and wives should relate to each other within marriage. Each has a God-given responsibility to fulfill. When lived out according to Scripture, these roles contribute to a healthy, thriving marriage.

Husbands Are Called To Love Their Wives

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:25, 28).

A husband’s primary responsibility is to sacrificially love his wife just as Jesus loved the Church when He died for her. He is called to protect, provide for, and lead his wife and family. This servant leadership should emulate Christ who washed His disciples feet (John 13:1-17).

Loving leadership does not mean domineering control. Rather, the husband bears the ultimate responsibility before God for the spiritual, emotional, and physical welfare of his wife and children.

Wives Are Called To Respect Their Husbands

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord... as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (Ephesians 5:22, 24).

A wife is called to voluntarily submit to her husband’s leadership out of reverence for Christ. Being submissive does not mean being a doormat or subordinate. Rather, it means allowing her husband to lovingly lead and facilitating his headship in the family.

This only works when the husband loves his wife sacrificially as Christ loved the Church. Submission is easier when the husband is loving, humble, and serving his family. When he fulfills his duty, it inspires his wife's respect.

Ephesians 5:33 summarizes the marital roles well: “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” This cycle of love and respect between husband and wife creates an environment for marriage to flourish.

The wife's role as helper and companion to her husband is illustrated in Genesis 2:18. Woman was created because "it is not good that the man should be alone." God saw that Adam needed a helper corresponding to him. Though equal in essence and value, the first husband and wife were designed to fulfill different roles in marriage.

Marriage Reflects Christ's Relationship with the Church

Marriage goes beyond a husband and wife's relationship. It is also meant to point to divine spiritual truths. The love between a husband and wife is a living metaphor that reflects the love between Jesus Christ and His people, the Church.

Ephesians 5 explains this correlation: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her...This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:25-26, 32).

As mentioned, a husband's sacrificial love and servant leadership represents Christ's love for the Church. The wife's respectful submission to her husband models the Church's submission to Christ as head. The roles of husband and wife mirror the relationship between divinity and humanity.