I was visiting recently with a Pastor and he asked: “What do you see as the purpose of marriage?” A good question—particularly in this day and age in which we live. Here’s what I spoke of:
First, marriage is to be experienced as simply a blessing from God. Upon finishing the task of naming all the animals, the Bible says that Adam found no companion suitable for himself. No doubt God took great delight in waking Adam from his sleep and introducing him to Eve. God knows first hand the joys of relationship. He has always existed in community with His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We, like God, were designed to thrive in relationships. Marriage is where it all began for mankind.
Second, marriage is for the stability and flourishing of society. After God brought Eve to Adam, He told them both to be fruitful and multiply. We tend to think this refers mostly to procreation but surely it is much more than that. It is within a marital relationship—where a man and woman who are committed to each other for life—that each new member of society (read child) has the greatest opportunity to gain what he or she needs to add to the stability of the greater community and be fruitful in life. What better place is there to learn about relationships, commitment, love, hard work, resolving conflict, the opposite sex, sacrifice, teamwork, and purpose in life? Not every man and woman who marry will lay hold of this wonderful opportunity with their children. That is most unfortunate and ultimately a detriment to society. But make no mistake about it, there is no better place for a child to learn of life’s ways than in a loving, committed marriage and family.
Thirdly, marriage is the best place to have your character shaped as you rub up against each other. I have been a member of various teams throughout my life—teams with many players down to teams of two. In every case there were things we all had to learn to get along and play our best. Nowhere is this more true than on the team of marriage. There is much to learn, much growth to take place in both you and your spouse if your marriage is to be fruitful and your children flourish. This is why I am such a strong advocate of not giving up on your marriage but on getting down – on your knees before God to ask for his help, and before your spouse to regularly ask forgiveness and seek ways in which you can be a blessing.
Fourthly, marriage was intended to be a reflection of a mystery greater than the Seven Wonders of this world. It is this: God wants a relationship with you and I as close as and even closer than a man and a woman in marriage! In the heart of man and woman there is a deep desire to become one. It is the driving force behind sexual union which is meant to be the culmination of a man and a woman deeply in love, committed for life. They want to be one. The God of the Bible desires to be so close with us, that in some mysterious way we become one with Him. Do what you will with that, but you can’t escape the wonder of such a loving God who wants to come that near to you and I. Your marriage and mine are to be a picture to the world around us of that kind of God.
Lastly, no one goes to the altar hoping it will just be for a few days or a few years. They want it to last a lifetime but they don’t know how. We must show them that Way!
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