Your Blueprint for Marriage (Eph 5:22-33; Gen 2)

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Your Blueprint

Introduction to Ephesians 5:22-33: Genesis 1-2

At work, you need a job description. At the construction site, you need a blueprint. In business, you need a proposal. And with relationships, God has given us the Bible. How many of us as singles were attracted, then wondered how to proceed as Christians? Or had an argument, then have not known what to do next?

Have you experienced a decrease of intimacy with someone you love–a spouse, a parent or even a child and wondered what to do? Have you experienced a conflict–then wondered how to deal with it? God has given us a blueprint for relationships in His Word. In our study of Ephesians, verse by verse, we have now arrived at Ephesians 5:22 and following, which addresses marriage and so much more.

But before we study this passage, we have to realize it is not the foundation plan, but the finish plan. What you have in Ephesians 5 is the paint, fixtures, lights, texturing, molding–everything to finish the work. But like any great work, it is built upon an original blueprint–the foundation, framing, heating, pipes and wiring. There is an original design that is assumed in Ephesians 5.

Sadly, too many Christian marriages focus on the finish work and ignore the foundation. Yet doing so is just as foolish as focusing on the fixtures when there are no pipes, or the color of the paint when there are no walls, or working on the lights when there is no wiring. Some marriages focus on polishing the faucet, when there are no pipes to run water to it.

So by way of introduction, let’s make sure as we approach Ephesians 5, we review the basic blueprint of marriage found in Genesis 2. Open your Bibles and take your outline. Genesis 1 is the creation account where God is described as creating our universe and earth in six literal, 24-hour days.

Genesis 2 is an expanded description of the sixth day–the day our God created the first man and woman. Here is the original blueprint for marriage, the foundation of Ephesians 5 and the heart of all relationships. Let me be pointed–you must follow God’s original blueprint for marriage, or your marriage will crumble or collapse.

If your relationship is not built correctly on the foundation, when the storm hits, your relationship will crumble or collapse. Like New Orleans after Katrina, some will be damaged, but others will disintegrate. There are marriages here today that wear a smile, but are sour. Some look happy, but are hollow. All of us could use some touch-up, and a few need a total re-model. And part of the reason for the struggle is we are not following God’s original design–His basic blueprint.

Listen friends, as a pastor who has seen it all, I am begging you to take this study to heart–not just today, but for the next few months. Be here every week–don’t just listen to the podcast. Memorize the Scripture, do the projects, have the discussions and by the power of the Spirit, align yourself with God’s Word. If we don’t get this right, we won’t bring God glory, won’t experience His joy, won’t raise godly children and won’t be an influence in this world.

It doesn’t matter if you’re single, unequally yoked, or a single parent or a kid, you need to know what God designed for relationships. This may be new to some, or review for others, but like Peter said, let me “stir you up by way of reminder”–we need to hear what God says. What is His design?


#1  People are God’s Special Creation

Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Doesn’t that make you feel special? You are dust. The potter took a lump of clay and made Adam, then uniquely breathed the breath of life into Him. People are made up of both physical/dust and spiritual/breath of life–material and immaterial.

When your spirit leaves your body, that is death or separation. So Moses says we are the dust from the ground—dirt. There is a Hebrew play on words here with man and ground. They sound the same in Hebrew, like saying humans from humas, or Peter from peat moss, or Mueller from mud.

And with this, not only did God design a special relationship with men, but He also from the very beginning gave man a job to do. Men are taken from the ground to look after the ground. After the fall into sin, it says in 3:19, “In death we will return to the ground”–which is where you get the saying at funerals, “dust to dust.” Kansas was right, “All we are is dust in the wind.” Abraham was right in Genesis 18:27, “I am but dust and ashes.”

So clay becomes a living being when God intimately, uniquely, face-to-face breathed in the breath of life. Almost like a newborn’s first gasp of air, man is given life directly from God. God didn’t do this with the animals, only with humans. Man is special, made in God’s image and in an intimate, personal, vertical relationship with His creator.

Then in the following verses God creates a special garden, placed Adam there and told him to work it–and both his unique relationship and purpose are given to Adam before Eve is created. And in doing so, God gives single women a description of the kind of man they are to look for and marry.

Borrowing from Eric Kobb, our singles pastor, we find two important traits a man must have–what are they? A Bible and a shovel. Adam was created to be rightly related to God in intimacy–a Bible. And Adam was designed (even before the fall) to work hard–a shovel. Some Christian gals are drawn to the guy who knows his Bible, but sadly doesn’t know how to work hard to provide and do a job.

Other gals are attracted to the guy who can work hard and make money, but does not live according to the Bible. Both are needed–the Bible and a shovel, the Law and labor, the principle and perspiration, the worship and the work. Christian gals need to look for the guy who has both a Bible and a shovel. He depends on God intimately and can work hard to provide.

And before we can enjoy any relationship, two things are required—1) to know God intimately, and 2) to know our purpose. Adam knew God and knew what his purpose was. This is huge. So many relationships and marriages go wrong right here at this foundational truth. Men and women don’t know God or they don’t know why they’re here on Earth and they cannot develop healthy relationships.

Instead of showing off God as His representative on the planet, they begin to think of relationships as something merely for me, to make me feel good. Soon that other person exists for me instead of both of you existing for Him. A right relationship with the Lord and a correct purpose in life are essential before any relationship will truly honor Him. Once this is established, then we should also know that . . .

#2  People are made to enjoy relationship with each other

Look at Genesis 2:18, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” Everything was good in chapter one, but there was something not good on the sixth day. What was not good?

First  Humans were not meant to live in solitude

Some believe fellowship with God is enough–but they are wrong. God says, “It is not good.” You and I are created for fellowship with God and also fellowship with other human beings. Why is it not good? Because we are made in God’s image. We mirror His character and His person. And God is not alone–eternally, God is a tri-unity, a Trinity.

God is not a lonely God–He is three persons, one essence. He is a perfect unity and a fellowship of love exists within the Godhead. A deep communion of intimate relationship has eternally existed within God Himself. You and I are not tri-personal, but we are created to have personal communion with other people.

You and I are not meant to be separate from community. For most people, that means marriage. For others, it means family. And for all of us Christians, it means the local church. Humans are not meant to exist on their own.

Second  Animals are no substitute for humans

Our dog Cali is a part of the family, but she is no substitute for human relationship. As much as you might love a dog, or though misguided, some of you tolerate a cat, they cannot replace people. Humans alone are made in God’s image. Look at verses 19 to 20, “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.”

God does a special creation and parades these animals in front of Adam in order to help him see his need. See ladies–from the very beginning we men are clueless. It’s genetic. Adam had to have his need shown to him. So here come the animals. Elephant–too big, otter–too small, giraffe–too tall, gorilla—mmm, maybe. Hey, a dog is man’s best friend, a monkey can perform impressive acts, a parrot can mimic words–but none of them can bear God’s image like a woman can. Adam sees there is no one like himself.

It’s amazing to me to see such a long introduction for the creation of the woman. I believe it signifies importance. “Last, but not least”–or as some have said, God saved the best for last. And as unique as man is, he gets his companion–his helper. Verse 20, “And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.”

The word helper is not demeaning–it’s actually a term the Old Testament uses to describe God Himself. It’s the process of providing what is lacking. Rocky had it partially correct when he said to Adrianne, “You fill my gaps and I fill your gaps.” See, the word suitable or comparable for him at the end of verse 20–this actually refers to a counterpart.

She shares his nature–but more, she complements him. What he lacks, she supplies. So verse 21 to 22, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.”

The deep sleep confirms that it was only God who made the woman–Adam had nothing to do with it. The rib confirms that the woman is the same stuff as the man–nothing new being introduced here. It’s significant, out of the one man God made two people–so one became two, then later the two would be joined to become one again. So clearly she is not a man’s property, but his partner.

Augustine said, “If God meant women to rule over man, He would have taken her out of Adams head. Had He designed her to be his slave, He’d have taken her out of his feet. But God took woman out of man’s side, for He made her to be a helpmate and an equal to him.”

Notice the word fashioned or made in verse 22–it has the idea of building or being built. That must mean the phrase, “She’s really built” is biblical! God designed and put forth constructive effort to build this most wonderful and mysterious of all creatures–and if you men, in a general way, are pleased with God’s design in building women, can I hear an, “AMEN!”? Can I get a witness!

And don’t miss the point–woman is not an accident, she is a special creation. God personally designed her just like he personally designed the man. She is corresponding to him, a companion suitable for him. And from the created order, you can see that the man was designed to lead the woman and she was designed to help the man. Both bear God’s image, but each have a unique function.

It has nothing to do with superiority. But in bearing God’s image, men and women, husbands and wives are to give the world a picture of what God is like. And just like God Himself, God the Father and God the Son are totally equal, yet God the Son submits to God the Father. So male and female both model His image–and though they are totally equal, yet the woman submits to the man in marriage. So speaking of marriage, how does this all work?


Marriage is being challenged today on every front—it’s outdated, useless, sexist or worse. But what did God intend? What does the original blueprint describe?

#1  Marriage is a commitment designed by God

Marriage is not a human invention or a social custom. Marriage ceremonies are unique to each culture, but the idea of marriage is not human in origin. Marriage is a good thing. God saw the need, fulfilled it and organized the first wedding. And God Himself was present to witness the ceremony.

Like a father giving away his daughter to the bridegroom, at the end of verse 22 Moses tells us, “And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” This was God’s idea. Moses comments in verse 24, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

And Jesus Christ Himself quotes verse 24 in Matthew 19:4 to 6, as the very Words of God Himself, “And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh”? 6 Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”

Make no mistake–God ordained marriage. Society does not have the right to do what they want with it. Marriage is more than legalizing sexual relations or recognizing mating instincts. Premarital sex and living together in an unmarried state go against God’s revealed will. Now marriage does curb sexual immorality and marriage does propagate the human race, but it is so much more. Marriage itself is a commitment–a vow that is consummated.

Listen, don’t be confused by the ceremony, flowers, music, white dresses, food, reception or the thousands of dollars you spend on the wedding ceremony. Marriage is simply this—a vow before God and people and the consummation of that vow in sexual intimacy. Period. It is an unbreakable agreement, an unshakable promise and the most serious union that is then sealed by sexual intimacy.

What does the Bible say can break a marriage? Adultery violates the consummation and desertion over one’s testimony violates the vow. Adultery and desertion are so serious they can break a marriage, but thank God His grace found in Christ Jesus can and has repaired the most serious violations. But marriage is God’s design, from start to finish–marriage was God’s plan. What else makes up the original blueprint?

#2  Marriage is designed for a male and a female

Jump back to Genesis 1:26 to 27, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

By saying, “let Us make man,” Moses is telling us that the entire Godhead was involved in the creation of male and female. “Our image” makes people unique, in that we give the world a picture or image of God. We are not God, but we are like God. He thinks, makes decisions, examines His own will and so do we. We are creative, use language, and are able to make moral choices. We can love, forgive, reason and worship. We are His picture on this planet–we show off His image to this world.

We also rule creation. People stand between, with God above and animals below, as God’s ruling representative on the planet. We take care of the place. And people were made both male and female to display God’s character with equal brilliance. God said, “Let them rule”–equal in value.

Both male and female are human and both are unique. And in their uniqueness, both are designed to bear God’s image. There is no unisex here–there is no emo confusion. God never intended homosexuality, God never intended lesbianism–men and women are made different in every way, but they were made for each other, a male and female, a man and a woman.

God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. It is only the fall into sin described in Genesis 3 that has resulted in manly women and effeminate men. But from the beginning, it was not that way–in the original blueprint they are different and those differences were designed to complement. So affirm the differences between male and female. The differences aren’t just physical–God has made the husband and wife to be a team. He didn’t design them to do the same things. Like a doubles team in tennis, they each take care of their side of the court.

In Matthew 19:4, “Jesus said, ‘He who created them from the beginning made them male and female.’” Healthy marriages complement each another, like a pilot and a co-pilot, each doing their distinct job to keep the plane airborne and safe. They are to help one another and do whatever is necessary to make the team successful, each fulfilling their own God-given role. If they submit to a common Lord, their roles will work together.

Healthy marriages talk about differences and how each spouse fulfills his or her role, strengths and overcomes weaknesses. If a husband and wife fail to recognize their differences, they will not work together as a team. Then the marriage will maintain a continual level of strife–strife that is due to sin.

#3  Marriage was planned to bring happiness, not misery

Notice what Adam says when he sees Eve for the first time in verse 23, “And the man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” This is the world’s first love song–it is poetry, the highest language possible to describe the amazing creature that woman is. This is why women are always suckers when it comes to musicians–the guy can be a total loser, as ugly as Mic Jaeger. But if he’s a musician, some gal is going to be attracted to him. This phrase, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” became a favorite Old Testament saying to describe an intimate, personal relationship. You have to believe that God is pleased with Adam’s reaction, because marriage in part was designed by God for our joy.

Singles, don’t marry someone you don’t like–don’t think he’ll change, don’t believe he’ll get better, don’t trust in promises. What you see is what you get–if you don’t like ‘em now, it will only get worse later.

#4  Marriage must begin with leaving other relationships

In order to establish a new permanent relationship between one man and one woman, look at what Moses says in Genesis 2:24, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother.” Marriage begins with leaving–leaving all other relationships, the diminishing of all other relationships.

Marriage requires you to leave mom and dad, and certainly requires that all lesser ties be broken, changed or left behind. Practically speaking, leaving means all activities are secondary to cultivating a true love relationship–the husband/wife relationship must be the priority over work for men and over children for women.

The first principle of a healthy marriage is to leave our first family. The word leave means to abandon, forsake, or sever one relationship before starting another. In other words, marriage is to be a one-family relationship. As a single, you’re part of your parents’ family–but when you marry, you start a new and distinct family. To leave your father and mother means to sever a previous family relationship and place your trust and dependence in your mate.

This is the very reason a wedding is a good idea–it represents a starting point and a terminating point. It is the beginning of a new relationship and the severing of an old relationship. Before marriage, you honor and obey your parents. After marriage, you honor your parents, but obey God by making your husband or wife your primary relationship.

You are to look only to your wife. You are to look only to your husband. God does not want women to hang onto daddy. God does not want men clinging to their mommy. God wants us to cut the umbilical cord. We are not to be plugged in anymore to our parents. Some of you need to cut the cord to your parents. Even if there are strengths lacking in your spouse, you must give up the former family bond. If you’re not ready to leave, don’t get married.

If you are unwilling to leave in your heart, then the framework of your marriage will be weak and the house will crumble. It is so important, it may mean you have to move in order to establish a solo relationship—unfortunately, many marriages are destroyed by parents. Parents, when you give them away you let them go, leave them alone, get out of the way–even be careful what advice you give. The picture in Genesis 2:24 is so strong, that the verb “to leave” can even mean “to amputate.”

I love the Father who got a call from his newly married daughter after her first fight with her husband. In tears, she said, “Daddy, it was horrible, I want to come home.” And her daddy said, “Honey, you are home,” as he gently hung up the phone—leave and cleave.

#5  Marriage requires an inseparable joining of a husband and wife throughout their lifetime

Finish verse 24, “and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Cleave means an unswerving loyalty, a gluing, a continual love that will not let go no matter what. Practically speaking, a wife and husband commit to never say or never do anything that would drive a wedge between them.

It’s not just you leave the former family relationship, but that you cleave to each other, living together in a totally new relationship. “To cleave” is to weld, to grip, to adhere–it’s the glue that holds you together. It literally means, “I am stuck on you. You have my heart. I’d rather be with you than with anyone else in the entire world.”

You see, marriage is never to be my space/your space, my money/your money, my things/your things, your dreams/my dreams. It’s a gluing our lives where everything becomes ours, new together. We’re not to be like the couple who, when asked the secret of their great marriage relationship said, “A quiet dinner and candlelight in a dark restaurant—I go on Tuesday, she goes on Thursday.”

No–we are to think, us and we, not I and me. It’s not merely what you like and what I like, but what we like, what we learn to like together, learning to enjoy what our spouse enjoys. It’s not my needs and your needs, but meeting each other’s needs. It’s not my time and your time, but our time.

This doesn’t mean that couples never need space from one another. They do need time alone with the Lord. In some couples, there is one very social individual and one very private individual. Marriages need to honor those differences and strengths. But unique differences should never be used as an excuse or rationale for failing to pursue each other in a cleave relationship. You are to be glued to each other–less of you and more of us.

#6  Marriage means oneness in the fullest possible sense

This includes intimate physical union without shame, verse 24. If you amputate your relationship to your parents and glue yourself to your spouse, then you will become one flesh. I believe Adam and Eve probably could communicate without words–they were perfect. But since the fall, we have to work at making life-long commitment to the process of enjoying a one-flesh relationship. It’s a unique relationship, a unique unity, a unique blending.

Like the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one yet three–marriage is one yet two different persons. Notice just how intimate Adam and Eve were in verse 25, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” In the divine pattern of marriage, sexual intercourse between husband and wife includes both intimate physical knowledge (God created sex) and a tender, intimate, personal knowledge of each other.

So leaving, cleaving and knowing each other results in a new identity in which two individuals merge into one–one in mind, one in heart and one in body. One flesh does involve sexual intimacy, but it is much more than the physical act. It is an issue of total completeness. Look at the failure of marriages that have enjoyed plenty of physical intimacy and you know that one flesh is more than physical intimacy. It is a social, emotional, mental, spiritual and physical intimacy between a husband and a wife in everything.

One flesh involves the complete identification of one personality with another, in a commonality of interest, pursuits, purposes and personalities which is best expressed in physical union. Marriage is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. It is the total commitment of the total person to another.

This is what will make you an amazing witness for Christ in this world. A one-flesh marriage is a testimony of the grace of God. First Peter 3:7 calls it the grace of life. Marriage is a reflection of God’s character of grace–it can be the best life has to offer. And according to Matthew 19, God put you together. One flesh means you look to God for your solutions–not to each other, but to God.

Why does God give us trials in marriage? He wants us to know Him better. As we do, we will know each other better. As our vertical relationship is established and strengthened, we can achieve a horizontal, one-flesh relationship. You can’t be right with your mate, unless you are right with God. Once you are right with Christ, then you can also be right with your mate as you pursue this one-flesh relationship.

One flesh in marriage means a commitment to God, for only He can give you the power to attain one-flesh. When your faith moves from routine Christianity to a relationship of communion with Christ, you’ll have what it takes to enjoy communion with your mate. I always know who the most mature are in the church. It is not the ones who went to seminary, or know the Bible or homeschool their kids–it is those who have godly marriages.

And for singles, those who have healthy relationships with the opposite sex. Nothing will prove your walk with God like a guy-gal relationship as a single. And nothing will prove your walk with God more than your marriage. And few things will bring God greater glory and be an amazing witness to the lost more than a Spirit-filled, truth-directed relationship. So here is our opening challenge . . .

1  Live by truth

It’s been said that animals follow their instincts, people follow their emotions, and Christians follow the truth of God’s Word. And it’s God’s Word that tells each husband, wife and single here that we’re fully responsible for our sin. Any mistakes we’ve made and all the problems in our marriage are our responsibility, not God’s responsibility. God holds us responsible for our actions that contribute to difficulties in our marriages.

Yet in His love for us, God also gives us the way our marriages can experience His power, through the presence and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. According to the Word of God, each of us here can follow God’s blueprint. We can enjoy the blessings that come from following His plans. Like a well-built building, all the parts function the way they were designed to create a marriage of beauty.

Don’t say to yourself, “I can’t do this.” The only ones who truly can’t obey are those who don’t know Christ. But those who have Christ in them can obey. To say you can’t obey as a Christian is really to say, “I won’t obey.” The Bible says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you–therefore you can obey the principles of God’s Word.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it does mean as we are dependent upon God, seeking to follow His Word, we can obey and God can bring about repentance, growth and change. But for all of this to happen, we must have Christ. The foundation for your marriage is Jesus Himself.

2  Deal with Sin Conflict

In marriage, it is nearly always a violation of one of the above principles. The termites that attack the structure of marriage are sin. In Genesis 3:16, we find as a result of our fall into sin, husbands and wives want to control each other. To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Desire here doesn’t mean sexual desire, because just a few verses later, in Genesis 4:6 to 7, “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.’”

The same word, desire, is used and means a desire to control. Since the fall into sin, husbands want to dominate their wives and wives strive to control their husbands. Whenever you hear, “I wish you wouldn’t be that way,” or “Why don’t you get over it,” or “Stop doing that,” sin is coming between a wife and husband.

Whenever there is anger, pouting, silence, refusal to pay attention, or loss of heart, sin is crouching at the door. When someone mentally stores up a huge list of wrongs against their spouse, awaiting an opportunity to read off that list, sin is dividing the marriage. Whenever there is a growing distance between a husband and wife–this is sin.

We all know we don’t have to teach kids to lie, argue or fight. We are all sinners by nature. Sin is a part of our very nature since Adam and Eve, and sin is the issue that destroys marriages. It is sin, and you and your partner need to individually hate the sin in your own lives more than anything else. Don’t try to fix them–deal with sin in your own heart.

Then you need to come alongside each other to help each other overcome their sin–not by nagging, but through prayer and encouragement. Both of you need to look to the resources of Christ. The right approach to issues that come up in marriage is not to accuse, but to take responsibility for your own sin in every issue and humbly seek to help your partner.

Sin tells us we desperately need a Savior–for forgiveness, for power, for the ability to deal with sin in our own lives, which is where we need to look first. Marriage does not have to be a three-ring circus–starting with an engagement ring, next, a wedding ring, then end up with the suffer-ring. Turn to Christ, depend on His Word, do things according to His blueprint and you will be blessed. Let’s pray. Some of you need to turn to Christ. All of us, in some manner, need to repent of sin—do that now.



About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.