By Jani Ortlund
05.02.2024 | Min Read
This article was originally posted on Christian Focus and is reposted with permission.

Young children have many questions about family relationships, and they deserve solid answers, answers they can live by, answers from God. How can you lay a solid biblical foundation for your children regarding marriage? 

Let me share three strategies we have used in our family through the years.

Show and Tell

Young children learn more through their eyes than through their ears. Begin teaching your children about marriage through your actions before they even understand language. Let them see you light up when your spouse walks through the door. Snuggle, kiss, hold hands, sit near each other—show them what it means to bind yourself to that one special person in all the world.

Then as they begin to grasp language, let your children hear an abundance of loving words flowing between their mommy and daddy. “I love you, darling.” “Have a good day. I can’t wait to see you tonight.” “I’m so glad you said yes to me instead of one of those other guys who wanted to date you.” “Isn’t your father the kindest man you know? Didn’t God bless us when He gave us Daddy to lead our family?” Fill their senses with the delight of a father rejoicing in the wife of his youth (Proverbs 5:18) and the security of a mother embracing her godly husband (Ephesians 5:25).

Show and tell them that a biblical marriage is filled with joy.

Practice and Pray

Make sure your children know that God is the one who invented this good gift of marriage. Take them back to the Garden of Eden—to the very first wedding ever. Help them understand that even with all the animals, even with the very Presence of God, there was still something missing. Read and discuss together Genesis 2:18. Here in the perfect Garden of Eden there was something “not good.” What was it? A man alone! God knew that Adam needed someone strong and kind and lovely—someone like him, but also different from him. God knew that Adam needed a wife, and so He made the very first woman and brought her to Adam, like the father of the bride at the very first wedding in the whole world (Genesis 2:20–22).

Children love to pretend. Why not act out that very first wedding scene—or other weddings? We have a dress–up box in our playroom that little ones love to use. Talk about the kind of person they should marry. And then take time to pray for your child’s future spouse and the new family your child will build with that life partner. Let them see your anticipation at this happy thought!

Practice and pray for that significant day when your child will enter into Christian marriage.

Witness and Wonder

Children need to know that people get married all over the world. Each country has its own laws about what marriage is and who can get married. Help your child to be able to distinguish between laws of the land and God’s laws—they are not always the same. Some countries say that marriage can be between two men or two women, or that a husband can have more than one wife. Some people believe that they will be happier if they decide what a marriage can be.

But marriage isn’t what we think it should be. Marriage it what God says it is, because God made us and God made marriage. We listen to God and we believe His words to us. Make sure your child understands that God says marriage is between one man and one woman for life (Mark 10:6–9).

Your children need a firm conviction that God’s way is always loving, and His way is always best. God tells us that everyone is to respect and treasure marriage, and we are to keep our marriage promises (Hebrews 13:4).

Your children need a firm conviction that God’s way is always loving, and His way is always best. God tells us that everyone is to respect and treasure marriage, and we are to keep our marriage promises (Hebrews 13:4).

When possible, take your children with you to weddings. Prepare them beforehand to witness the beauty and significance of this sacred ceremony. Talk about the vows the bride and the groom make. Explain to them that when a man and a woman get married they promise God that no matter what, they will stay together as long as they both live. They make these promises because sometimes it is hard to love each other. Marriage vows help keep a couple together even when they don’t feel like loving each other.

Maybe your family has divorce in it. Sometimes we aren’t good at keeping our promises. Sometimes sin can harden our hearts and we hurt the people we promised God we would love the most. Talk this through with your children, assuring them of God’s nearness in their sadness (Psalm 34:18) and His help when everything is so hard (Isaiah 41:10).

And then bring the conversation back to the hope of their own future. When they get married it may be hard at times. But God will be with them. And it is possible that they will have the happiest marriage ever! Talk to them about happy marriages you know, those of loving, selfless, committed couples. Tell them that marriage is God’s kind gift to us. Marriage brings joy to adults and security for children. And best of all, marriage is an up–close display of the forever love of Jesus for His church, which He calls His bride!

Help your child grasp the wonder of this unique privilege and begin yearning for it in their own lives. Keep talking. Keep praying. Keep anticipating. And watch what God will do.

More about Jani’s book, A Child’s First Book About Marriage: God’s Way is Always Best.

The world's view of marriage can often be very different to what the Bible says. But who is right, and who should we listen to? From a very young age, children are confronted with and can be confused by these conflicts. This hardback, illustrated title helps to explain the beauties of God's plan for marriage to children of any age, introducing them to a different, counter-cultural way of viewing these aspects of life and faith.