In our June 2019 edition of Good News, we headlined a story on what the Bible says about Christian marriage. It is no doubt that the subject of marriage, as God intended it from the very beginning of creation, has been distorted through the ages. Its definition has changed by civilizations in order to suit their prevailing whims and values. This and the subsequent edition of this publication seek to highlight the science of marriage as God designed it, Dr Edward Tamale-Sali writes.
Marriage between man and a woman was instituted by God around the time He created life on earth. God’s original plan was marriage between a man and a woman. His plan has never changed, according to the scriptures.
This short discourse examines the science of how it happened and what it means to you and me in the light of the scriptures in our present day Christian living.
Before delving into the depth of this subject, I would like to give a background of the creation of Earth (the blue planet as we know it today). This will help us to put into perspective what will follow in reference to what God intended marriage between man and woman.
Any other sexual relationship either between man and man, woman and woman or man and animals is not of God (to be discussed in details in our subsequent edition).
The creation of life on planet earth
Our planet has been in existence for billions of years. This is proven by science using carbon dating or radiocarbon dating, a method used to date materials that once exchanged carbon dioxide with the atmosphere.
To radiocarbon date an organic material, a scientist can measure the ratio of remaining Carbon-14 to the unchanged Carbon-12 to see how long it has been since the material’s source died. For instance, Earth is estimated to be four billion years old.
In His wisdom and timing, God decided to create man and put him on this planet. But the planet was devoid of sustaining life. We read in Genesis 1:2: “And the Earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” As we know today, the planetary galaxies all around our planet are devoid of life.
Take a good example of the moon which man has visited and taken samples from with clear proof that life cannot be sustained there. The same applies to Mars. So Earth was similar. But in His wisdom, God decided to put life only on this planet. How did He do it? The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit moved upon the face of the earth (Genesis 1:2). This means God, the Holy Spirit, breathed on this planet and the conditions of sustaining life came into existence for the first time on what was once a dark and devoid planet. God continues to create new things in the world today and it is only the Holy Spirit that can transform lives – lives which were once in darkness, devoid of life – into something beautiful and with a purpose. It was after this that God started creating systems like the sun, moon, etc. which could sustain life on Earth. He took time and described exactly what He was doing on a particular day and in an orderly and systemic manner (Gen 1:3-31).
The creation of man
Having prepared a suitable habitation for man and furnished it with all things necessary for his use and comfort, God now proceeds to create him. How did He do this? Man was created on the 6th day and then God rested on the 7th day. He saw and reflected on what He had done and said: “It is very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The first man God created was called Adam. God put him in charge of all His creation, and told him to subdue and take control everything He had created (Genesis 1:29). To borrow from our common corporate language, He made Adam ‘the CEO’ of Earth. But Adam was alone, or we can say he was a bachelor. Of all that God had created, there was nothing He could deem fit for Adam to have a personal relationship with (Genesis 2:20).
Jesus once reminded His followers that in the beginning, God made humanity in His own image, male and female. Men and women are different, yet complementary –specifically designed by God to complete each other.
Both are intrinsically valuable. The male body and the female body show us we are physically complementary, but being a man or a woman isn‘t only about biology; a husband and wife fit together body, soul and spirit.
Jesus had the reputation of being a wise teacher; so, people asked Him questions all the time, including ones about marriage. When asked about divorce and remarriage, for example, He pointed back to the foundation of marriage. Jesus quotes Genesis and describes God’s design for human sexuality at creation. “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What, therefore, God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).
The creation of a woman
Gen 2:21-23 says: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” This is the first surgical operation ever recorded. God took Adam in His operating theatre and carried out this surgery of making a woman out of Adam’s rib.
From my over four decades experience in the medical practice, I can draw several parallels between the creation of man and the norms we practice while performing surgical procedures. As most of you might already know, modern operating theaters require a team of professionals, including a lead surgeon, anesthetist, biomedical engineers and specialist nurses, among others. In a similar manner, we see God Himself taking these long steps to make a woman from Adam through taking a rib out of Adam. God had many options other than going to theatre and inducing general anesthesia. For instance, God could have created a woman the way He created Adam because He had that power to do so; He could have created another man as Adam’s companion, or He could have commanded animals like a dog or elephants to learn to speak and commune with Adam and give him companionship. God did not do any of the above. Instead, He made a woman out of Adam’s genetic material – the rib. We shall see this in details in our next edition.
Marriage made in Heaven
Against this background, we get to understand that marriage is about God. Until we grasp this, we will never have a proper foundation for thinking ‘Christianly’ about marriage. Marriage today is in crisis in our society. There are many causes, including materialism, secularism, greed, and rampant selfishness. Many young people have seen so much divorce, they doubt that a lifelong marriage is possible – or even desirable. The current debate over same-sex marriage is not the only problem, but also a symptom of a much deeper pathology in our contemporary culture. In the great debates convulsing our society, we must ask: “Where is God glorified in this?” It is never enough to say: “This is what I want.” Or “This is how I feel so it must be right.” We must ask: “How can we order our lives and all our relationships to bring the greatest honor and glory to God?” Marriage is a witness to the honor and glory of God. Marriage is a window in time through which the world grasps a glimpse of eternity. Let me offer a further thought that may be new to many of you: marriage is of central importance because it is one of the key ways in which God displays His glory in the world. The key word in that sentence is “glory”, which speaks of God’s greatness, His character, and His reputation in the world. God intends that your marriage display something of His character to the world. Sadly, we live in a ‘paganised’ society that glories perverted values, particularly on matters of sexuality and marriage. We treat holy things as lowly, and lowly things as holy. No wonder there is such enormous confusion about marriage and the family.
And despite the controversy and confusion, marriage endures as a human institution because there is something in us that craves the companionship of a husband or wife. Deep inside, down deep in our spiritual DNA, that part handed down from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we were made for marriage. Here is the proof: most people will be married at some point in life. And nearly everyone wants to be married. Many people so greatly desire marriage that they get married again and again and again. Leaving aside any other judgments that demonstrates the truth of what God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone.”