The most important and valuable things in life are not always obvious to us. For example, both we and our children need to be taught from the Bible just how amazing marriage really is.
Most children know a lot of married people — their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors or teachers. To them, marriage doesn’t seem amazing. They do not know that it is a wonder of the Gospel.
Our world says that marriage is something we invented for ourselves. So we can reinvent it in any way we want. And, indeed, our world is doing just that. It is aggressively saturating our children with a new and unbiblical vision of marriage and sexuality and human flourishing. Families with different parental arrangements and interchangeable roles and titles cause confusion in our children.
Tell Them the Story
But God tells us something better. He tells us that He created marriage for a sacred purpose. Your children and grandchildren deserve to learn about that purpose at an early age. Who better to learn it from than you?
Help your children see that there are two ways to think about everything — the world’s way and God’s way. You can give them a glorious biblical vision of what God intends marriage to be.
Start back at the creation of marriage in the perfect garden of Eden (Genesis 2). Teach your children that even in that beautiful place, with all the animals surrounding him, God knew that Adam would need something more. God knew that Adam needed someone like him, but also different from him. And so, God made the first woman in a different way than he had made anything else — He made her out of Adam’s body. And then, like the father of the bride in the very first wedding, He brought Eve to Adam.
What God did in the garden of Eden is why people get married even today. It was all God’s amazing idea!
Be sure that your children know that, just like everything that comes from the heart of God, marriage is good and beautiful. If you are married, show your children what a valuable treasure your spouse is. Talk often about your gratitude for your marriage. Let your children see the affection you share toward each other. Make sure they hear you speak kindly to and about your spouse.
Draw attention to other solid marriages in your family, church and community. Show them pictures from your own wedding day, and let them see your joy in celebrating your anniversary year to year. As they get older, take them to a wedding and discuss the vows and promises the couple make to God and to each other.
God Sees One “Us”
Your children need to hear God’s definition of marriage from you — one man and one woman giving all of themselves to each other for their whole lives (Matthew 19:4-6). That’s why a married couple shares everything. They share their hearts, their name, their home — even their bodies. Explain why Daddy and Mommy kiss and hold each other.
You can help your children understand that when a man and a woman marry, God doesn’t see two “me’s” anymore. He sees one “us”! You could illustrate it this way: Make two large paper hearts to symbolize two people in love who get married. Glue them together and let it dry overnight. The next day, try to separate them. The two have become one, and you can’t separate them without hurting both.
Talk about divorce in the most tender of terms. When sin hardens our hearts (Mark 10:2-5), we can hurt the ones we are supposed to love the most. Help your children learn how God cares for those who are hurting (Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 40:11).
The Big Romance
It would be wise to introduce same-sex marriage very carefully. Children need to understand that, when we are born, we don’t know what will make us truly happy. But God does, and he tells us about our true happiness in the Bible.
Some people think that marriage can be between two men or two women, or that a husband can have more than one wife. That is not what the Bible teaches. Part of trusting God is following what He says about marriage and happiness, because God created us and God created marriage for our joy and His glory.
You can help young children understand that each country has its own laws about marriage. Talk to your children about marriage laws in your country. Be very clear that these laws are not always the same as God’s laws about marriage — and God’s laws are the most important laws in the whole world. Teach your children that what God says about marriage matters most. He can be trusted. His way is always best.
This matters because a biblical marriage shows the world a tiny picture of the Big Romance — the one between Christ and his church in love together. Marriage is meant to be an up-close display of the forever love of Jesus for his people.
May the little ones around us grow up secure in God’s design for marriage.
May they treat it with sacred honor all throughout their lives and pass on the legacy to their children.
Jani Ortlund is a wife, mother and grandmother. She taught elementary school for several years, and earned a master’s in early childhood curriculum development. She is author of “A Child’s First Book About Marriage — God’s Way is Always Best.” Ortlund lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband, Ray, and serves as the vice president of Renewal Ministries.
A version of this article previously appeared on the Desiring God website under the headline “Teach Them About Marriage Before the World Does.”
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