Bible Study: RELATIONSHIPS
Lesson 1: The Foundations of Marriage
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road, Montgomery, AL
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II, pastor-teacher
Pre-study question: Define the following terms. Consider the social, legal, and spiritual aspects of each word: We started by sharing our personal definitions of marriage, husband, and wife. We realized that these concepts aren’t as simple as they appear.
a. Marriage- union between man & woman; what God has joined together; contract between 2 parties
b. Husband – head of the family; provider; man who vows to relationship with a woman according to God’s law; Genesis 2: 23, 24
c. Wife – Genesis 2:23, 24; like the man, but different
1. Genesis chapters 1 & 2 describe the creation of humanity. As is often the case, the masculine term “man” is used here. However, in Genesis 1: 27, the Bible explicitly refers to the creation of male and female. What does this indicate about God’s plan/ intentions?
- God always intended to create males & females.
- Eve was not an afterthought. Adam was not an incomplete first attempt.
2. To whom does the plural “them” refer in Genesis 1: 28? “Them” refers to male & female, man & woman/ Adam & Eve.
To whom then, do the blessings of dominion apply? God gave the promise of dominion to all of humanity, both men and women.
3. Compare Genesis 2: 7 and Genesis 1: 26. How is “man” used differently in these verses?
In Genesis 1: 26 “man” refers to humanity in general, males & females.
In Genesis 2:7, “man” refers specifically to the male/Adam.
Again this shows that the creation of the woman along with the man was always part of God’s plan. God made Adam to be a man/male. He intentionally designed and created Adam as a male human being. God made humanity to composed of males and females. He intentionally designed and created men and women to be different.
4. Compare Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 2: 21, 22. Explain the difference between how God created the first male and how God created the first female?
Genesis 2: 7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
… 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
God made Adam’s physical body from the dust of the earth. The elements and compounds in African dirt were the building blocks of his physical body. Once the physical body was formed, God directly breathed life into Adam. Man was intentionally formed to be both physical and spiritual.
Eve, was essentially cloned from Adam. Because her physical body was made from Adam’s physical body, both man and woman had the exact same (and therefore compatible) physical chemical/ genetic make-up.
It came up half-jokingly last week, that if God had made both of them from the dust of the earth that we might be arguing now that Adam was made from one kind of dirt and Eve was made from another. God’s way eliminates any support for an innate superiority or inferiority in either male or female.
Adam and Eve were formed intentionally but differently.
Although genetically identical, they were made male—on purpose, and female—on purpose.
5. Why wasn’t it good for Adam to be alone? Consider Genesis 1: 28. Also look at what Adam was doing (Genesis 2: 15, 20).
Genesis 1: 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 2: 15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it… 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
- God gave the promise of dominion and the command to be fruitful & multiply to them, male and female together. Really, Chapter 2 takes place in the middle of verse 27. So, one reason that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone is that he could not fulfill the command to multiply ---alone.
- In chapter 2, Adam is given 2 jobs. He was actively (and successfully) performing those tasks when God, not Adam, remarks that it isn’t good for him to be alone.
- What does dominion look like? It looks like someone working at exactly the callings God has given them. The other reason it was not good for Adam to be alone is that if he’d fulfilled his tasks without the woman she would have no place in the dominion that God had called them to.
6. What was Eve’s purpose? Consider what God said to/about her in chapter 2 and in chapter 1.
In chapter 1, everything that’s said about Adam also applies to Eve. His dominion was her dominion. His home was her home. The commands for him to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue the earth where all command to her as well as to him.
In chapter 2, Eve is made to help/ assist Adam in the work he has already been assigned. She does not define the man’s purpose; God has already done that. She comes in to be a “just right” help and to be an active participant in them fulfilling their purpose. The general promise/ destiny is given to male and female. The specific means of fulfilling their destiny of dominion is given to the man.
7. Genesis 2: 18 is one of the most frequently misquoted verses in the Bible. It does not say that God would make a “helpmeet” nor does it say “helpmate.” What does it say? What does that mean?
The Bible records that God designed Eve to be a “help meet” or a “help comparable” to Adam. Note that these are two separate words. God made eve to be a “help” to Adam. She was made specifically to be comparable, or suitable to him. The KJV term “meet” in this context means proper. In other words, Eve was made to be just right for Adam.
It was always God’s plan that Adam and Eve share in the responsibility and authority of dominion. Eve was formed in such a way that she fit into the organizational scheme that was already at work in Adam.
When God made Adam, He said that the creation was “good.” Adam was not missing anything. He didn’t have any baggage or sin or issues. He didn’t need Eve because he was messing up the names of the animals. He didn’t need Eve because he was pruning too much off the roses in Eden. God’s complete plan for humanity included males and females. It wasn’t good for Adam to do it all by himself because God didn’t intend for him to do it all by himself. But there is no indication or hint in the scriptures that Adam wasn’t capable of handling the business given to him –all by himself.
- The pronouns in Gen. 1 & 2 are important. In Gen. 1: 26, God refers to Himself as Us & Our. The Trinity decides to create man in Their/His image. Man and woman are made to be in a relationship that completes their destiny. They are complete together and they are complete separately. This is a reflection of the unity of God the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. It’s not exactly the same, but it is an earthly image of the triune godhead. Also, note that we have trouble understanding the Trinity in part because we keep comparing God to earthly stuff (water, atoms, humans). God isn’t like this stuff, but we at our best are somewhat like God.
8. It was always God’s intent to have both man and woman in dominion. So why didn’t He make them simultaneously?
We can’t know for certain, but we do know that sometimes God fulfills His promises in stages. For example, David was anointed to be king of Israel but it was several years before he actually sat on the throne of all 12 tribes. There were several steps he had to go through. In the same way, we see Adam being prepared to “be a man” before Eve is brought forth. Although their union was always meant to be, Adam needed to be prepared. The promises of Genesis 1 were made to a family, but the man had to be prepared before he could take up his role in the family.
You might think of it like a man who owns and company and intends to pass it to his son. The father might make his son work in the factory and learn the business before he actually names the son to be president.
What did God give/ do with Adam before He gave Adam a wife?
God gave Adam several things.
- God gave Adam a home of his own—Eden.
- God gave Adam work to do. He had 2 jobs: gardening which required him to labor with his hands; and naming the animals which required him to apply his mind to examining and understanding the nature and purpose of every creature.
- God gave Adam rules to live by. He had freedom to eat of everything, but he had a restriction from eating of one tree.
Start New Lesson with #9.
9. What did God name the woman He had made? (Trick question!) Read Genesis 2: 23.
God didn’t name the woman. Adam named her “woman,” which means out of man. “Woman” was more than a title, it was a name.
According to Gen. 2: 9, when Adam named something, God accepted the name. The name defined the thing.
The name “wo-man” defined Eve in relation to her husband. We may have a problem with that today, but keep in mind that at this time, Adam is perfect. The world is perfect. There is no sin, no baggage. Adam doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t mistreat Eve or anything on the earth. Adam lives in perfect fellowship with God, regularly beholding the fullness of his glory.
Adam and Eve are the prototype of men and women. They were created in a state of absolute perfection, placed in an absolutely perfect and sinless environment, and given unrestricted direct fellowship with God. Their relationship was literally a “match made in Heaven.” Consider now what their marriage teaches about all marriages.
10. (Consider your answer to question #1.) Just as God has a plan and destiny for each individual, if God has given 2 people to be married, He has a plan and destiny for them as a couple/ unit/ family_.
11. How does the answer to question #2 affect the concept of “success” in a marriage?
A family’s success must be collective success. A family’s success is defined by dad’s & mom’s success as a unit. A family is not successful when dad is doing his thing and mom’s left out. A family is not successful when mom in taking dad for all he’s got. “They” have dominion together or they each fail.
12. Read 1 Peter 3: 7. What is necessary for a husband and wife to stand in God’s favor?
1Peter 3: 7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
For a husband (and wife) to walk in God’s favor they have to be united:
1) There must be understanding between them. (Not necessarily agreement on every topic, but understanding of each other’s perspective.)
2) They must give each other honor. This means that he has to appreciate her ,and she has to appreciate him.
The husband must take the lead in seeking and modeling these areas, especially in giving honor to his wife. In a male-dominated world, it is tempting to treat women as inferior. That is not the way to God’s favor.
The husband and wife are “heirs together” of God’s grace. Once the union is made, they stand in or fall out of God’s favor as a unit.
Specifically, to the husband, God commands us to :
- Live with our wives
- Understand our wives
- Honor our wives issues (weaknesses) and all. Looking at the entire letter/ epistle of 1 Peter, the context is spiritual not physical. We’re not talking about physical issues, but spiritual issues.
- See that ours is a joint spiritual inheritance not and simply individual one
Heir= someone for whom the Father has promised an inheritance.
Inheritance= something better that the father has coming
Referring to the entire church, Peter writes in 1 Peter 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
- Husbands are admonished to love and live w/ their wives according to God’s commands because our obedience/ disobedience to how God says we’re to treat our wives affects our spiritual power.
o The scripture says point blank, that if we don’t honor & understand then our prayers will not be as effective.
o Note: The scriptures doesn’t say that wives have to understand husbands. In fact, I can’t think of a single scripture that commands women to understand men. I think it’s a good thing when women understand men, but I can’t say that it’s a Biblical command. I must say that husbands do have a Biblical responsibility to understand their wives. (Whoever said being a man was easy?)
o The Bible does not say that men have to always please their wives. The Word reference the fact that we often do strive to please our wives even to the point of disobeying God, but this is a caution, not a command.
o The Word does say explicitly that we are to live with, understand, and honor our wives—issues and all.
13. The answer to #4 shows a progression in the order of Creation. How is this progression lived out in a marriage? (Look at Ephesians 5: 23, 24.)
Ephesians 5: 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
God makes --> man; man is w/ God.
God makes --> woman; woman is w/ God.
God brings --> man & woman together to become husband & wife; huband & wife serve God.
1) First, the man/ husband must understand and walk in his relationship to God. Out of that relationship the man understands & executes his responsibility to work and to provide for himself.
i. Then, man is ready to have a wife. Husband and wife must be right for one another. But the woman must see her connection to her husband in the context of her relationship to God. A woman has a divine purpose and a family role. The 2 are supposed to exist in harmony, not in competition.
2) God made the woman and she was with God(Gen. 2: 22)/ had her own personal relationship w/ God before she was brought to the man.
- The wife is to contribute to the process of taking dominion. She is to help the man succeed. Whether she works in the home or outside of the home, a wife is more than decoration, housekeeping, & sex. She is supposed to help her husband advance the family.
Note: The wife has voice & vote, but the final say in the exact work/ the exact means for the family’s progress is between the husband & God.
One of the problems with marriages in the church is that you have “godly” men who are looking for godly women, and “godly” women who are looking for godly men, but neither group is looking for God.
The Genesis model of the perfect marriage shows a man serving God and a woman with her own relationship to God. God brings them together, and together they serve God.