It is generally agreed, even if only theoretically, by most Christians that God must be first in life and that means He comes first in marriage. But what does that mean? Well, I suppose on a basic level it means we do what He wants us to do and so we had better find out how He sees marriage and what He expects married people to go.
In the beginnning God created Adam out of the red earth and then He made Eve from a rib out of Adam’s side. The wound in Adam’s side came from close to his heart, so that he would love his bride. The wound in the Second Adam’s side went to His heart too, as He bled His last for His bride. St Edith Stein wrote beautifully on the creation of Eve. I will try and find her quote some time.
The first command that God gave to Man was “Be fruitful and multiply.” So He wanted marriage to be a place that welcomed the children He would send.
It wasn’t long before people decided to go their own way when it came to marrigae. (There really is nothing new under the sun). God however stays true to His ideal. The chosen ones are usually children of first wives.
God treated Israel as a bride pretty early on and tries to teach His people this marrital imagery in various ways, the bluntest (a holy 2b4) was with His treatment of the prophet Hosea. Israel has sinned and sold herself after other gods. As a result the armies of those other gods had taken over Israel and the people were scattered. During this time God called Hosea and asked him to marry Gomer a woman who sold her self to other men. Hosea did as he was asked and life was a rocky roller-coater, including naming the children in a rather hair raising manner.
There were two views of God. To Israel He was Adonai the beloved husband and gentle father. But the pagans had a god called Ba’al meaning master-husband and not only was he a bully of a husband he was a pretty nasty father too.
Racing through the Old Testament then, we can see that God wanted marriage to be a reflection of His love. So He said to Hosea “I hate divorce,” even though the Mosaic law had allowed it.
Jumping to the New Testament we find Jesus referring to Himself as the Bridegroom. He gets asked about marruage a few times. First of all He tells us that marriage is for this life and not the next; that is because while we will still love our spouse because love doesn’t have to end, we wont need marriage because the reasons for marriage are in this life. They are to have the children God wants us to have and to lead each other and our children to Heaven.