Given From the Creation: The Principles of a Godly Marriage

Principles of a Godly Marriage, As Given From the Creation:

© 2024 C. O. Bishop

1st Corinthians 7:1-6; Hebrews 13:4; 1st Peter 3:1-7; Colossians 3:18, 19; Ephesians 5:21-33

1st Corinthians 7:1-6

1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.


We have seen several “uncomfortable” passages in sequence. Here, again, is a doctrine that we seldom discuss in church. It touches upon marital relations, and usually, in our culture, we do not even discuss such things…at least not in public. As a teacher,, my problem is that, regardless of how I may feel about it, this is God’s Word. If I am to teach it faithfully, I cannot just focus on the comfortable parts.

Further, this is a pretty important part of a believer’s understanding. It should not be avoided, even if it is uncomfortable to hear. There are numerous parallel passages that we will also examine, and hopefully get past any discomfort.

Evidently the Corinthian believers had written to Paul. They had asked his advice about “abstinence from sexual relations.” Someone was suggesting that total celibacy was a way to achieve godliness. Paul’s initial response then, was, “…concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” But, he immediately qualified that response. He pointed out that for most people, marriage is a genuine necessity in life, and then specifies why.

What Does God Say?

There are (or have been) ascetic cults that teach total celibacy as a way of life. Predictably, they usually die out within a few generations. The American Shakers, for example, (led by Mother Ann Lee, who saw herself as “the second coming of Christ,” and as a “combination of male and female”) taught total celibacy as a cardinal doctrine. But that group continued to attract adherents for a while, due to their productive, generous lifestyle, and their creativity. Unfortunately, they also continued to teach total celibacy, and they frowned upon childbearing. By the year 2000, one Shaker community remained in the United States. It consisted of ten people. That is a pretty sad story.

Celibacy outside of marriage is a good thing: But celibacy as a general rule is definitely not from God. It is unnatural, and it is counterproductive. God says so.

From the Creation, Marriage is the Gift of God

In Genesis 2:18-25, God declared that it was not good that the Man should be alone. God created a suitable partner for the man, in the form of Woman. God created her to be a part of man and yet a separate being. Adam said, “She is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

And in Genesis 2:24, God said “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”

This was the plan from the beginning. Take note: God ordained the marriage relationship before sin entered the world. Before there was corruption or evil of any kind on this earth, God gave the pure and undefiled gift of the marriage relationship.

The Gift Has Not Changed

In Romans 11:29, Paul says that the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance…without revocation. HE is not changing, and He confirms that His gift has not changed, in Hebrews 13:4“Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, but whoremongers and adulterers, God will judge.” Notice that He also states the limitation: He restricted this relationship to marriage.

Further, the command in Genesis 1:28, also given to the human race before their fall into sin, was that they should “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

So, we can see, for certain, that procreation was the plan of God. There are ascetic religious groups, still today, which (though they do not go quite as far as the Shakers did) attempt to teach that marriage relations should be restricted to being only for the purpose of childbearing …that wives and husbands are not to enjoy the physical marital relationship.

Here in 1st Corinthians 7, God makes it clear that such teaching is destructive. It denies the believer something that God gave as a gift, before we fell into sin. And because each of us normally has a desire for that relationship, any attempt to wrongfully deny it can result in people seeking to satisfy that desire in wrong ways.

Avoiding Sexual Immorality

Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

Notice that this applies to both men and women. I have occasionally heard someone suggest that because God only said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” it must not apply to women. In the first place, the only time He said that was in the specific case where there was only one human…a man…in existence! God did not say “It is not good for a man (any man) to be alone,” but THE man…Adam.

It was not good, that of all the creation, humans were not yet capable of procreation. All the rest had been made “male and female.” God completed the creation of the human race by producing the female…the woman. In Genesis 1:27, it says, “So God created Man in His own image: in the image of God created He him; Male and Female created He them.” They are equally in the image of God. Genesis 2 simply gives us more detail about how He went about it.

But the desire for one another was built into both of them. The rule laid out in 1st Corinthians 7 is for both men and women.

The Marriage Covenant

Some of the marriage covenant that we recognize in our weddings is the part about mutually caring for one another, and mutually cherishing one another: But another part is the exclusivity of that relationship. We agree before God that we are to restrict ourselves to this relationship with one another, only: “…forsaking all others, as long as we both shall live.”

Within that covenant relationship, however, we are not just “permitted” to enjoy the physical relationship, we are commanded to “not defraud one another” of that enjoyment. We are to seek to please one another, as part of that relationship…not just please ourselves.

Mutual Care

As husband and wife, we have mutually given ourselves to one another. Paul puts it this way, in verses 3 and 4: Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

The word translated “benevolence” here, is the Greek word “eunoia.” It is only used twice in the New Testament. It literally means “good mind,” but it carries the connotation of “pleasure.” The only other place it is used is in Ephesians 6:7, where it says, “With good will doing service, as to the Lord and not to men.”

But if we read both of those passages translated with the same English word, “pleasure,” then the Ephesians passage would say, “With pleasure, doing service, as to the Lord and not to men.” While the verse we are now reading would say “Let the husband give the pleasure he owes to the wife, and the wife to her husband.” I am not attempting to “re-translate the word”…I am only pointing out that the Greek word has a meaning, and that the two places it is used should have similar meanings. And clearly, they do.

The word translated as “power,” here, is the Greek word “exousia.” It means “authority.” My wife has authority regarding my body: it is no longer “just mine.” The reverse is true as well. This in no way suggests that either of us is free to abuse the other, in any fashion. We are a team, devoted to loving and supporting each other, and meeting one another’s needs..

Remember the “Mirror”

In James 1:23-25, we see God’s Word likened unto a mirror. James tells us to “not respond to the mirror of God’s Word as most men respond to a physical mirror.” Most men look into a mirror and walk away, giving it no more thought. We literally “forget what we just saw.”

We are to look into the “Perfect Law of Liberty” and see who we are from God’s perspective and change what needs to be changed. Notice that the mirror is to examine your own reflection, not to check out what other folks need to do.

Sisters, You concentrate on what God is telling YOU to do: Don’t use this teaching to criticize and demoralize your husbands. You are in his “corner” supporting him.

Brothers, use this teaching to see what YOU need to do, to walk obediently, loving and honoring your wife. This is not to “give you ammunition” with which to criticize her. You are in her “corner,” supporting her.

Remember who is identified as the “Accuser of the Brethren.” Don’t start doing his “dirty work,” by accusing one another.

Parallel Teaching Regarding the Church

God demonstrates that the Husband-Wife relationship is given as a physical figure, a “picture.” or an “object lesson” of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Jesus is never abusive or dismissive toward His bride, the Church. He is our sustainer and defender and our only confidant and our closest friend. He is our guide and teacher, as well. Must a husband be all of those to his wife? That would be great, but it is not always the case. What IS always required? God commands a husband to love his wife, as Christ Loves the church.

1st Peter 3:1-7

In similar manner, a wife is to treat her husband with full respect. He, in turn, is to treat her with tenderness and respect as well, as a fellow heir of the grace of life. A husband is to recognize that there will be times each month when his wife’s body essentially “drugs her” so that she is not going to “feel good,” or she may be cranky, for a few days. He is not to judge her for that. nor to respond in anger, but to “dwell with her according to knowledge.” He is to honor her as the weaker vessel in that regard.

This is not an indicator that “men are smarter,” or that “men are more spiritually alert,” or even that “men are always physically stronger.” They usually are, yes, but if a man suffers an injury or sickness that renders him helplessly weak, physically, this does not change the dynamic God has set up. And if he fails to treat his wife the way Jesus treats the church, then God says his prayers may be hindered. God takes the marriage relationship very seriously. This is an uncomfortable passage, but keep in mind that it is God talking.

Another Warning

Proverbs 14:1 warns the wife that if she behaves wisely, she builds up her household. But if she does not, then she is doing the reverse: she is pulling it down with her own hands. A woman has a unique privilege and gift of making a house a home. But part of that “homemaking” is found in the relationships between the family members. If the wife or mother is strengthening those relationships, through wise interaction, then she builds up her household. But if she is foolishly stirring up strife, then she is tearing it down. We may not want to think about it, but God says it.

In every aspect of the marriage relationship, God commands us to be mutually sharing His Agapé love with one another. That includes mutually fulfilling one another in the physical relationship.

If both the husband and wife mutually agree to “take a break” for a short time, specifically to devote themselves to prayer, that is fine. But he says it is to be a defined length of time and short: they are not to take a chance on their hearts beginning to stray. And finally, he says that they have permission to make such a decision: there is no command to do so.

A marriage relationship that is flourishing under God’s hand, as a joyous partnership between God, a man, and a woman, is a wonderful picture of Christ and the Church: But squabbling, bitterness, or infidelity will ruin that picture and make it a mockery of the true gift of God.

Lord Jesus, we ask that You purify our hearts and minds and allow us to focus on blessing our marriages through full obedience to Your Word,  in full submission to Your Spirit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *