Do You Really Appreciate God’s Gift of Marriage?
“May Jehovah make a gift to you, and do you find a resting-place each one in the house of her husband.”—RUTH 1:9.
LOOK FOR THE ANSWERS:
How did God’s servants who lived in the past show that they appreciated and respected his gift of marriage?
How do we know that whom we choose to marry is important to Jehovah?
What Bible counsel on marriage do you plan to apply in your life?
1. How did Adam react when God created a wife for him?
“THIS is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken.” (Genesis 2:23) These words were spoken by the first man, Adam. He was happy because Jehovah had created a beautiful wife for him! God made Adam fall into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs, and created the woman. Adam later named her Eve. God made them husband and wife. Because Jehovah used Adam’s rib to create her, Adam and Eve were closer than any married couple today!
2. Why do men and women feel romantic love?
2 Jehovah created humans with the ability to feel romantic love. This love brings a husband and wife together. Most people hope that when they marry, their love will last forever.
THEY RESPECTED THE GIFT OF MARRIAGE
3. What did Abraham do to find a wife for his son Isaac?
3 Faithful Abraham respected Jehovah’s standard for marriage. So he sent his eldest servant to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac. The servant prayed to Jehovah to help him, and he had good results. He found Rebekah, a woman who feared God, and she became Isaac’s wife. She had a part in the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise to continue Abraham’s family line. (Genesis 22:18; 24:12-14, 67) Many people today make their own choice of whom to marry. Sometimes people like to help others find a mate. But they should not do this if they have not been asked to help. Also, God does not choose whom a person should marry. But when Christians are thinking about getting married, God can help with this and other things if they pray for his direction and are guided by his spirit.—Galatians 5:18, 25.
4, 5. How do you know that the Shulammite and the shepherd loved each other?
4 A beautiful Shulammite girl from ancient Israel did not want her friends to pressure her to become one of King Solomon’s many wives. She said: “I have put you under oath, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you try not to awaken or arouse love in me until it feels inclined.” (Song of Solomon 8:4) The Shulammite was in love with someone else, a shepherd. Humbly, she said to him: “A mere saffron of the coastal plain I am, a lily of the low plains.” The shepherd loved her too. He answered her: “Like a lily among thorny weeds, so is my girl companion among the daughters.” (Song of Solomon 2:1, 2) They really loved each other.
5 Their marriage would be strong because the Shulammite and the shepherd loved God more than they loved anyone else. The Shulammite even said to her beloved shepherd: “Place me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; because love is as strong as death is, insistence on exclusive devotion is as unyielding as Sheol is. Its blazings are the blazings of a fire, the flame of Jah. Many waters themselves are not able to extinguish love, nor can rivers themselves wash it away. If a man would give all the valuable things of his house for love, persons would positively despise them.” (Song of Solomon 8:6, 7) Should servants of God not expect this same standard and same commitment from their marriage mate?
YOUR CHOICE IS IMPORTANT TO GOD
6, 7. How do we know that whom we choose to marry is important to God?
6 Whom you choose to marry is important to Jehovah. For example, he warned the Israelites about the people who lived in Canaan. He commanded the Israelites: “You must form no marriage alliance with them. Your daughter you must not give to his son, and his daughter you must not take for your son. For he will turn your son from following me, and they will certainly serve other gods; and Jehovah’s anger will indeed blaze against you, and he will certainly annihilate you in a hurry.” (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4) Hundreds of years later, Ezra the priest said: “You yourselves have acted unfaithfully in that you gave a dwelling to foreign wives so as to add to the guiltiness of Israel.” (Ezra 10:10) Later, the apostle Paul told Christians: “A wife is bound during all the time her husband is alive. But if her husband should fall asleep in death, she is free to be married to whom she wants, only in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 7:39.
7 Dedicated servants of Jehovah disobey him if they marry someone who is not a baptized Witness of Jehovah. The Israelites who lived at the time of Ezra disobeyed God when they married foreign wives. The Scriptures are clear about whom a Christian should marry. It would be wrong to try to find an excuse not to obey God’s requirements. (Ezra 10:10; 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15) So a baptized Christian who marries someone who is not baptized does not obey God’s requirements on marriage and can lose privileges in the congregation. It would not be reasonable to expect blessings and at the same time pray: “Jehovah, I chose to disobey you, but please bless me anyway.”
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER KNOWS BEST
8. Why should we follow God’s instructions about marriage?
8 A person who makes a machine knows how it works. He can provide instructions for others to put it together correctly. If we ignore the instructions and put the machine together as we want to, what will be the result? It may be a disaster! So if we want a happy marriage, we must follow the instructions given by Jehovah, the one who created marriage.
9. Why did Jehovah provide the gift of marriage?
9 Jehovah knows everything there is to know about humans and marriage. He wanted them to “be fruitful and become many,” so he gave humans a sexual need. (Genesis 1:28) Before Jehovah created Eve, he said: “The man’s being alone is not good; I will make him a helper to match him.” (Genesis 2:18, Byington) Jehovah wants married people to be happy.—Read Proverbs 5:15-18.
10. How can couples please Jehovah even in their personal life together?
10 Every person has inherited sin and is imperfect, so no marriage is perfect. But Jehovah’s servants can have true happiness if they follow God’s Word in every aspect of their lives. For example, Paul gave clear counsel on sexual relations in marriage. (Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-5.) The Scriptures do not say that having children is the only reason for a couple to be intimate with each other. They also have emotional and physical needs. But unnatural practices do not please God. In this important part of their lives, Christian husbands and wives must treat each other with tenderness and show true love for each other.
11. How was Ruth blessed for being faithful to Jehovah?
11 Marriage should be full of joy and happiness. A Christian home should be a place of rest and peace. Think about what happened nearly 3,000 years ago. Naomi, an older woman, and her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, were all widows. On their way from Moab to Judah, Naomi told the younger women to return to their people. But Ruth did not leave Naomi to return to Moab. Instead, she stayed with her and was faithful to the true God. Boaz was an older man who was a true worshipper of Jehovah. He told Ruth: “May there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” (Ruth 1:9; 2:12) She showed great appreciation and respect for God’s gift of marriage, and she married Boaz. When Ruth is resurrected on earth in God’s new world, she will be very happy to learn that she was part of the family line of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:1, 5, 6; Luke 3:23, 32) She was faithful to Jehovah and received great blessings!
GOOD COUNSEL FOR A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE
12. Where can we find good counsel on marriage?
12 God tells us what we need to know to have a successful marriage. No human knows as much as he does. The Bible is always right and is therefore a source of good counsel about marriage. So anyone who offers counsel should base it on the Bible’s standards. For example, the apostle Paul wrote: “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) Mature Christians can understand such clear counsel from the Bible. But will they apply it? They will if they really appreciate and respect God’s gift of marriage. *—See footnote.
13. What may result if a husband does not follow the counsel of 1 Peter 3:7?
13 A Christian husband treats his wife with love. The apostle Peter wrote: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with them according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one, since you are also heirs with them of the undeserved favor of life, in order for your prayers not to be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) Jehovah may not listen to the prayers of a husband if he does not apply God’s counsel. The relationship that each mate has with Jehovah could suffer. This could also cause the couple to have great stress. They might argue a lot and treat each other in a harsh way.
14. What good can a loving wife do for her family?
14 A wife who follows Bible counsel and is guided by God’s holy spirit can do much to make her home a place of peace and happiness. It is natural that a Christian husband loves his wife and wants to protect her. A Christian wife wants to be loved, so she shows qualities that help her husband love her even more. “The truly wise woman has built up her house,” says Proverbs 14:1, “but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” A wise and loving wife does much for the success and happiness of her family. She shows that she really appreciates God’s gift of marriage.
15. What counsel is found at Ephesians 5:22-25?
15 Husbands and wives show respect for God’s gift of marriage when they follow the example of how Jesus treats his congregation. They show love and respect to each other. (Read Ephesians 5:22-25.) Married people who really love each other are humble and do not refuse to speak to each other or allow other bad qualities to harm their marriage. Jehovah blesses couples like these!
LET NO MAN PUT THEM APART
16. Why do some Christians stay single?
16 Most people plan to get married one day. But some of Jehovah’s servants stay single because they cannot find a mate whom Jehovah would approve of and whom they would like to marry. There are others who do not feel the need to marry. They can spend more time in Jehovah’s service and can find fulfillment in life while they are single.—Matthew 19:10-12; 1 Corinthians 7:1, 6, 7, 17.
17. (a) What did Jesus say about marriage? (b) If a Christian begins to desire another person’s mate, what should he or she quickly do?
17 Whether we are single or married, all of us need to remember Jesus’ words: “Did you not read that he [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Matthew 19:4-6) To desire another person’s marriage mate is a sin. (Deuteronomy 5:21) If a Christian begins to have this desire, he or she should quickly do everything possible to remove that unclean desire from his or her mind. This must be done even if it causes great emotional pain because the Christian has allowed this selfish desire to grow. (Matthew 5:27-30) It is very important to correct such thinking and stop any sinful desire.—Jeremiah 17:9.
18. How should we feel about God’s gift of marriage?
18 Many who have known little or nothing about Jehovah God and his wonderful gift of marriage have some respect for it. What about us? As dedicated servants of “the happy God,” Jehovah, we are happy to show by the way we live that we really appreciate and respect God’s gift of marriage!—1 Timothy 1:11.
SOME EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED
Marry “only in the Lord”: To marry someone who is a baptized Witness of Jehovah
[Blurb on page 4]
A marriage will be strong when a couple love God more than they love anyone else
[Blurb on page 5]
Whom you choose to marry is important to Jehovah
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Jehovah wants married people to be happy
[Blurb on page 7]
The Bible is the source of the best counsel on marriage
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A good marriage honors Jehovah and can make everyone in the family very happy
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Ruth showed appreciation and respect for God’s gift of marriage
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Do you show that you really appreciate and respect Jehovah’s gift of marriage?