The Order Matters: Teaching Marriage at Hillsdale UB

Lester Smith (right), senior pastor, Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.)

The second Sunday of February is World Marriage Day and also the week of Valentine’s Day. I always address marriage on that day. To introduce my message to the congregation, we showed the amazing video testimony above. It is about a young couple in our church.

The sermon topic was taken from the very first principle of marriage stated in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

There is a clear order in this progression: The leaving of the parent’s home, then the wedding or being “joined to his wife,” and finally becoming one flesh. It’s worth noting the next verse informs us of the outcome intended by God: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Jesus also pointed to this principle when questioned about His position on divorce in Matt. 19:5. Finally, Paul referenced it in Eph. 5:31 as the foundation stone in the most famous marriage passage of the New Testament.

The problem in today’s culture is we have reversed the order of the first principle of marriage. The man and woman do leave their parents, but often for the purpose of cohabitation. Therefore, for all practical purposes they have “become one flesh” before, not after, the wedding ceremony.

This means when most couples are joined together in marriage today, the foundation has been built on a shame-based relationship. The result is just the opposite of God’s original design expressed in Gen. 2:25 for newly weds to be “not ashamed.” All the research confirms a much higher divorce rate among couples who violate this biblical principle.

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