Genesis 2:24 contains a succinct and profound description of marriage. The verse includes three essential actions that make an authentic marriage:
- A man will leave his father and mother;
- Be united to his wife; and
- They will become one flesh.
In his book I Married You, Walter Trobisch defines marriage as:
- The Wedding: The public and legal act that announces to the world the formation of a new family unit;
- Faithfulness: The loving commitment to be faithful companions growing in intimate knowledge of each other; and
- The Sexual Union: The physical union of husband and wife that represents their faithfulness.
However, this doesn’t give the impression that marriage is a dynamic and cyclical process.
In Genesis 1:28 God exhorts Adam and Eve to be fruitful, multiply, and to fill, subdue, and have dominion over the earth. Bearing fruit and multiplying ensures theirs will not be the last marriage. Adam and Eve’s children eventually form their own families. This fourth step brings the process full circle:
- Leave past affiliations;
- Protect growing intimacy;
- Join together as one to produce fruit; and
- Multiply and release offspring into the world.
Based on these four steps (and some thoughts from previous chapters), I propose the following as a working definition of marriage:
God joining together a man and a woman, loyal to each other for life, who each contribute distinct but equally important abilities towards the completion of a fruitful mission greater than can be accomplished apart.