In a world where Walt Disney has influenced our view of marriage as much, if not more, than anyone else, many people today view the purpose of marriage as “they lived happily ever after.” When we enter marriage with the view that it is for making more happiness then it is little wonder that over half of all marriages crumble in the UK as happiness fails to materialise, or at least, the grass seems greener elsewhere.
Nick Tucker has written a fascinating article in the most recent Oak Hill “Commentary” publication which shows that the western view of marriage has shifted from a sacramental union in God, where the two become one flesh, to a legal agreement, which might be dissolved at the parties mutual consent. In the article, Nick shows that marriage is not just for the private good of the two individuals but, in fact, marriage is good for everyone from children to communities to the world.
In marriage preparation sessions at Holy Trinity I now look at seven purposes for marriage with those who are mature Christian believers and this is the seven; marriage is for…
1. the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). In sexually supercharged Corinth, Paul writes to believers and says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
2. the modelling of Christ and the church (Eph 5:22-28). Christ is the head of the church and so to model this, husbands are to lovingly head up the family and offer a spiritual lead to his wife and kids. Christ also died for his bride, the church, to remove the impediments to their marriage, but also to make her beautiful. So, a husband is to die to self and live for the emotional, spiritual and physical good of his wife. In this way, wives love their husbands and Christ is glorified.
3. our sanctification (Eph 5:22-28 and 1 Thess 4:3-6) Paul Tripp writes “why did God put the most difficult process, sanctification, at the heart of the most intimate relationship, marriage?” (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands). Marriage is for iron sharpening iron, as Mike Mason writes in “The Mystery of Marriage” (Multnomah Books; 20 Anv edition)
4. to be blessed and be God’s blessing the world (Genesis 1:28, 12:1-3) Children of Abraham, the people of God, the family of Christ, husbands and wives, are married to be blessed by God and be a blessing to the world. Their marriage is to be lived in community and for community.
5. companionship (Gen 2:20-25) It was not good for man to be alone.
6. sexual pleasure and enjoyment for the avoidance of sexual immorality
(1 Cor 7:1-2) Sex is good and is to be enjoyed, but sexual immorality is not good, so marriage is for good sex.
7. being fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth (Gen 1:28) Have children, if the Lord wills. In marriage, there is, at least, the potential for procreation.
There’s probably more good reasons. The point is clear, I hope, that marriage in the will and wisdom of God has many good and glorious purposes. Marriage is much more than wanting to be with someone as long as they make me happy.