Often we will turn to the Book of Genesis to help the curious to see God’s design for marriage. In the Garden of Eden, God created one man, united him with one woman, and formed from them the first family of humanity. This, of course, is the framework for the understanding of marriage that has been broadly accepted throughout all human history. God made marriage as one man, one woman, for life.
Any look at society today clearly indicates that we have been tinkering with marriage. This might lead us to ask, when did someone first tinker with marriage? Even more, we might ask if such a person was the kind of person God approved.
One need not look far in Scripture to see the first perversion of God’s beautiful plan for the human family. In fact, this warping of God’s design appears in the fourth chapter of Scripture, not long at all after the fall of man and Cain’s murdering of his brother.
Genesis 4:19 – And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
In Genesis 4, we meet a descendant of Cain named Lamech. This man, in Scripture, is the first to take more than one wife simultaneously. This is the first time in the biblical record that someone tampers with marriage.
Now, this chapter of Genesis is given to us to record the history of Cain’s line, and it does not comment very sharply on the actions of its people. However, even here, Moses, the author of Genesis hints to us about what is happening by showing us the character of the man.
Was Lamech a godly man? Was he the exception to the evil rebellion against God embodied in the murderous Cain? Was Lamech the kind of guy who wanted to do things God’s way?
Just hear a little song Lamech composed telling his story, and you will see that Lamech is not the kind of person after whom we wish to model our lives.
Genesis 4:23-24 – 23 Lamech said to his wives:
“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
So, Lamech sings about his violence and murderous revenge. He sings of killing someone for a wound received. This is not in keeping with the way of the Lord. This is not in keeping with God’s value of life. This is not a godly man. This is not a good man. His arrogant boastfulness over his violence shows us that he is not someone after whom we are to model our lives.
Then, remember that it is this violent, arrogant, boastful, aggressive, ungodly man who is the first human to tinker with God’s plan for marriage and the family. Of course I am not trying to say that all who are out to redefine marriage are violent and nasty folks like Lamech—of course they are not. What I am saying, however, is that attempting to redefine marriage from that which God gave us in the beginning is following the pattern of those who oppose God, not those who follow him.
Is this the strongest argument for keeping marriage as one man, one woman, for life? Of course it is not. The strongest argument is Genesis 2 along with the words of Jesus in places like Matthew 19. But, it is significant, in developing a biblical theology of marriage, that when we see people changing the boundaries of biblical marriage, it is done by those in opposition to God or by those in obvious sin against the Lord.