Ecclesiastes 4:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

It would seem that no expert or anyone who has studied the situation would disagree that the institution of marriage is a dismal failure today. “Over the past several decades, the nature of marriage has changed. Many people are choosing to live their lives with partners without getting legally married, and Americans are increasingly more approving of this option. (Marquart et al., 2012). Unfortunately, people who do marry have roughly a 50 percent chance of staying married. That is equivalent to flipping a coin on your wedding day. Even for couples who stay married, many reports being unsatisfied in their relationships.”  Sadly, the statistics do not change just because the couple is Christian.

For those who have entered into a marriage, they might ask can they maintain and improve upon their marriage year after year. For those thinking of getting married, can they find true happiness in marriage, will it last? The answers to these questions and others are largely dependent on whether both the husband and the wife correctly understand what the Bible says to husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and are they applying that biblical counsel in a correct and balanced manner. If we are wholeheartedly trusting in God, not depending on our own understanding, but rather seeking his will in all that we do, he will show us the path to take.’ (Pro. 3:5-6) If we do those things, we will remain in God’s love.

Should You Get Married?

For some, Marriage is essential for happiness, as God designed man and woman to get married. It is as though something is missing in life if one is lacking their mate. Yet, during this time while God is working out the issues that were raised by Satan in the Garden of Eden and at the beginning of the book of Job, he has encouraged some, who are able to consider remaining single, so as to serve him more fully without any distractions. Jesus spoke of singleness as being a gift. (Matt. 19:11-12) In addition, the apostle Paul spoke of the benefits of singleness. (1 Cor. 7:32-38) However, let it be known that there is no Scriptural basis for any Christian denomination or Christian leader to demand that anyone remain single. In fact, the apostle Paul warned Timothy that “in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, … who forbid marriage.” (1 Tim. 4:1-3) There are supposed Christian denominations that have forbidden marriage among its priests for centuries. If we feel the calling to serve God more fully and want to forgo marriage during this time, make certain this is you calling and desire. If, not there is true joy and happiness within marriage if we correctly understand and apply the Bible guidance on the matter.

 We do not want to cast a shadow over the institution of marriage. Marriage is also a gift from God. (Gen. 2:18) Marriage has advantages and can possibly bring many blessings. For example, the person who is in a good marriage has the best foundation for enjoying life. Children need and deserve a two-parent family that is stable, with Christian parents raising them based on Bible principles, providing love, discipline, and guidance. (Ps 127:3; Eph. 6:1-4) While raising children is the number one reason for marriage, it is not the only reason.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another[1] to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they can keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

The passage can be used for friendship, A Christian not separating himself from the congregation, and yes, Marriage, which is the closest friendship one, can have. The single person does not have the same assistance, comfort, and protection that married couples can share. The twofold cord can be torn but not as easy a single cord. In a marriage, the third fold of that threefold cord is God. The husband, the wife, and God make up the threefold cord. Therefore, three strands woven or braided together would be much more difficult to tear apart. When pleasing God first is the prime concern of both the husband and the wife, the marriage is then like the threefold cord. If God is truly a part of the Marriage, the union will then be very strong.

Moreover, biblically, it is only within a marriage that sexual desires can be satisfied. Within the marriage, the sexual union is biblically viewed as a source of delight or pleasure. (Pro. 5:18) When a young single person reaches the age when sexual desires are very strong, he or she may struggle with their sexual desires. If these desires are not kept under control, it could lead to unclean, sinful conduct. Paul offers us the following counsel to single people, “But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”―1 Corinthians 7:9, 36; James 1:15.

Regardless of our reason to marry, we need to be realistic as well. Paul was quite realistic with those who marry “will have tribulation in their flesh.” (1 Cor. 7:28) Those who marry will face difficult times and challenges that sing people do not face. Here is where we offer biblically sound information to those who choose to marry, as to how they can decrease the challenges and increase the blessings. The best way is to choose your mate wisely.

Choosing a Good Marriage Mate Based on Scripture

An Ox and a Donkey Yoked Together

The Apostle Paul under inspiration gives a vital principle that we need to consider when choosing a marriage mate. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (2 Cor. 6:14) What did Paul mean by ‘being yoked together’? Paul was giving us an agricultural example. A yoke is a wooden frame for harnessing two draft animals to whatever they had to pull. If a donkey and an ox are yoked together, it will be two animals of a major difference in size and strength, meaning that both will suffer. That is because there will be great friction and strain because the strong animal will have to make up for the weak animal. This is the same in the marriage of a believer and an unbeliever. In a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever, there will be the same friction and strain because the believer will have to carry most of the burden being the stronger of the two. The believer will want to be faithful to God in all things and the unbeliever will likely care little about that. They will not have the same priorities in life. The believer will want to focus on Christian meetings, while the unbeliever will be focused on the desires of the flesh. Much pain and suffering will result from this. Paul thus urged Christians to marry “only in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 7:39.

Loneliness can be a bitter storm to survive. The pain of wanting someone to love and seeing others in love can be overwhelming at times. This can move the single Christian to ignore Paul’s Holy Spirit advice and decide that being unevenly yoked is better than no marriage at all, so they marry an unbeliever. It always ends up the same way, at first; it seems to have been worth it. Then, as time passes, the fleshly qualities of the unbeliever begin to take a toll. The believer begins to feel just as alone in the marriage because they cannot share the most important thing in life with their mate. Therefore, it is wise to trust God. (Ps 32:8) It is best to remain single until an opportunity come to “marry in the Lord.”

Now, we must state the obvious. Not every Christian is a person worthy of marriage just because they claim to be a Christian. When choosing a mate, we need to seek out the spiritually mature. Do they regularly go to the Christian meetings? Do they prepare for those Christian meetings? Do they have spiritual goals? Do they take their walk with God serious? Do they show that they have a deep love for God? Remember, actions speak louder than words. We need to use the principles of God’s Word to guide us to the mate that will compliment us.—Psalm 119:105.

Ways that You Can Prepare for a Successful Marriage

If you are considering marriage, it is best to ask yourself, “Am I truly ready?” The answer to your question does not really hinge how you feel about love, sex, companionship, or raising children. Rather, you have to think through different goals that need to consider when you are a prospective husband or wife.

If you are a young man or even an older man, consider the Proverb, “Prepare your work outside; and get it ready for yourself in the field, afterward, build your house.” (Prov. 24:27) What is the meaning here? In those days, “a young Israelite who was ready to start his own family would need to build a house for his bride and get his farm operating. Which is the first priority? Proverbs advises him to do the outdoor work first. He should get the fields ready because they were his source of income. The house was the place that provided personal comfort, but the crops were the means for supporting the farmhouse. In short, produce before you consume. And a young person contemplating marriage should set up a means to support his family before he starts one.”[2] Yes, this young man needed to consider, “Am I able to support a wife and any children that may come or are already there?” A man who fails to care for the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of his family is worse than one without faith!—1 Timothy 5:8.

Then, we turn to the woman, who must also consider what her weighty responsibilities might be. God’s Word praises the skills and qualities of a wife that helps her husband, as she cares for the household. (Pro. 31:10-31) If the man and the woman rush into the marriage without considering the responsibilities that lie ahead, they are being selfish and thinking of immediate gratification. Bu rushing ahead, they are not truly considering what they need to possess in the ways of skills and qualities that add to the marriage. More importantly, they need to consider also how to prepare spiritually.

When we prepare for marriage, we need to consider the roles that God has assigned to the husband and wife. The man needs to recognize full what it means to be the head of the Christian household. This place within the marriage is not a license to act as an oppressor or some dictator. Rather, he must imitate Jesus Christ as to how he exercises headship over the congregation. Paul said, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the congregation,[3] he himself being the Savior of the body.” (Eph. 5:23) “The wife is to be subject to her husband as to the Lord. This does not mean that she submits to her husband in the same way and to the same degree as she does the Lord, since the husband might ask her to disobey God. Rather she serves the Lord by having a submissive heart toward her husband and by obeying him as long as it does not require her to disobey the Lord. The reason she is called upon to be subject to her husband is that the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. As the church is to be subject to Christ, so the wife is to be subject to her husband. This subjection does not mean inferiority. It is clear that male and female are both created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and that in Christ, where personal worth is concerned, there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). However, in the overall scheme of things, God has placed all of us in differing positions of authority and submission. The man may be in authority at home but submissive at work. The woman may be in submission at home and in authority at work. The point is, all social order depends on people’s willingness to work together and ability to determine who is the head of certain endeavors. God’s intention is that the husband be the head of the relationship with his wife.”[4]

If a woman has not matured enough spiritually in the faith, so she can be supportive and submissive when it comes to the authority of an imperfect husband, she should not marry. If a man has not matured enough spiritually in the faith, so he can know that he must always listen to his wife and be able to biblically decide whether her way is the best way or not and that he is not a tyrant over her, he should not marry. In other words, Scriptures have been largely misunderstood and abused by both men and women. The prospective mates must fully and accurately, know what the Bible author meant by the words that he used. Then, they need to ask themselves, “Can I accept this in my heart and apply it in my marriage?”

The marriage mates need to be prepared to care for the special needs of the other. We can apply the Apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians, “Everyone should look out not only for his own interests,[5] but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:4) “Looking out for our own interests comes naturally. We need, and receive, no instruction for that. We are instructed to look out for the interests of others. We are to keep an eye out to discover ways we can help others even when they do not see they need such help. The apostle stated in Galatians 6:2: ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.’”[6] Paul also wrote, “let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she fears[7] her husband.” (Eph. 5:21-33) This fear means the wife should have a deep respect, a fear of displeasing him because of her great love, not a dreadful fear or some feeling of anxiety. Max Anders writes, “In summary, she is to be subject to her husband and to respect him. Respect (phobetai) literally means “fear.” It can refer, however, to the fear a person should have before God, a reverence and respect (Luke 1:50; 18:2; Acts 10:35; 1 Pet. 2:17; Rev. 14:7; 19:5). This type of reverence and regard should characterize the relationship of a wife and her husband.”[8]

Therefore, the engagement, then, is not just a time for fun. It is a period where a man and a woman get to know each other. They get to learn how to deal with each other biblically. It is also a time to see if marriage is the best choice at this time, with this person. It is also a time when one needs to be very cautious and have control over themselves. While there is nothing wrong with kissing or holding your prospective marriage mate, it is dangerous to do so when alone. Being physically intimate is natural, a gift from God. However, those who love God more than their future husband or wife, will not put themselves in innocent appearing situations because to commit fornication before marriage is no way to begin a lifelong commitment to each other or God. Entering marriage after committing such a serious sin is such a terrible foundation on which you want to build. (1 Thess. 4:6) If your will cheat on God with each other because of sexual desires, does this not indicate that you may cheat on each other for those same sexual desires?

How can You Make Your Marriage Survive Your Imperfections and Human Weaknesses?

If the marriage is to survive Satan’s world, your imperfection, and human weaknesses, both the husband and the wife need to have the right view of commitment. When we read romance novels or watch Hollywood movies, we always find a loving ending, which anyone would crave. However, marriage, in real life, is not a romance novel or movie. In real life, there is no end; it is an ongoing relationship, which goes on for an eternity, and was designed by God. (Gen. 2:24) It is our view of marriage that matters. A common saying is that the couple is “tying the knot.” The problem with that saying is it can be viewed two different ways. First, a good knot can be tied to last as long as it is needed. Notice, as long as it is needed. What happens when you decide you no longer need the knot? Second, a knot can be untied.

The popular view of marriage today is that it is only temporary. Many couples enter marriage only thinking of their individual needs at the time. However, the moment the marriage is a challenge, they are ready to end things. NOTE: There are biblical reasons to end a marriage, such as adultery and physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse. Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt 19:6) If we marry, we need to have that kind of commitment, and if it seems like a burden, marriage should not be a consideration. Again, there are reasons for leaving your marriage mate. Thus, we will offer a brief excursion here.

Excursion on Diverse

When Jesus said the only grounds for divorce was/is adultery, the context was his speaking to Jewish men, who were divorcing their wives for insignificant reasons in the extreme, such as cooking a bad meal. In the context and historical setting, Jesus dealt with the issue at hand. The context and historical setting were that Jesus was dealing with a stiff-necked people who were abusing the basis for divorce under the Mosaic Law. Jesus was not dealing with any exceptions to the rule that might come up in life.

However, the Apostle Paul was in a different context and historical setting. Thus, under the influence of Holy Spirit, he offered an exception. Notice how Paul words things,

1 Corinthians 7:12-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.

The first thing to notice is Paul saying, ‘I am inspired by God, so I can say this and the Lord (Jesus), did not touch on this, but I am.’ Let us take a look at the context and historical setting. Under verse 15 of chapter 7, a husband or wife is not enslaved to a spouse who has left him or her and has refused reconciliation.  If the husband or wife, who has been left by the other has done his or her due diligence of trying to reconcile (7:10-13), and they have an unbeliever who will never return, nor ever remarry, the brother or sister is not enslaved and are free to remarry under Paul’s words, not Jesus, because Jesus was not dealing with this particular circumstance. Jesus and Paul were not contradicting each other, just as Paul and James did not contradict each other over faith and works. Paul is complimenting Jesus’ words because he is dealing with an entirely different context and historical setting. However, if anyone argues that Paul was not offering an exception clause to Jesus’ words; then, Paul would be contradicting Jesus. There is no reason for Paul to talk about ‘not being enslaved’ to their husband or wife if he were not offering an exception clause to Jesus’ words about divorce, nor would there be a reason for Paul to say, ‘these are not Jesus words, they are mine.’ In other words, Jesus did not touch on this circumstance, ‘I, an inspired apostle am dealing with it.’ Thus, Paul is offering an exception, so there is no contradiction.[9]

Jesus said the only reason for divorce was adultery under the historical context of his discussion with the stiff-necked Jewish leaders. The Apostle Paul was inspired to expand upon divorce based on another context of a spouse who leaves or you separate from because of abuse, who then refuses to reconcile. No one should stay with an abusive person. God did not intend this to be the case. If that person refuses to change; then, the person is refusing to reconcile. The traditional teachings of the church are not what God’s Word means in every case any more than the traditional teachings of the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Jesus said to them, ‘because of your traditions, you have made the word of God invalid.’ (Mark 7:13) The meaning of a text is what the author meant by the words that they used.

End of Excursion

When you get married, the husband and the wife need to maintain the same biblical view of each other. If each one applies God’s word correctly in their lives, seeing the good qualities and efforts of their spouse, the marriage will be a joy. While we are imperfect, we can still have positive views of each other. Husbands and wives need to have a positive view of their mate and make allowance for when they fall short.—Colossians 3:13.


HUSBANDS - Love Your Wives

[1] Lit there is not a second

[2] Anders, Max. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Proverbs (p. 301). B&H Publishing.

[3] Gr ekklesia (“assembly”)

[4] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 173.

[5] Lit not the (things) of themselves each (ones).

[6] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 225.

[7] to have such awe or respect for a person as to involve a measure of fear–‘to fear, to show great reverence for, to show great respect for.’

[8] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 173–174.

[9] For a longer discussion of this, please go here: