What Is the Purpose of Marriage? Bill’s Perspective

August 6, 2019
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It is my opinion and experience that many marriages struggle because they do not have a basic understanding of the purpose of marriage.

I believe that my wife and I have thrived in marriage before and after my injury because of the foundation of our marriage being founded on the correct purpose.

So I want to share with you what I understand to be the purpose of marriage in the hope that it will strengthen your marriage and help you thrive.

Marriage Is a Metaphor

Marriage is much more than a legal institution and contract. It is primarily a spiritual metaphor. To understand this we have to take a look at the creation of marriage and the first marriage ceremony.

When God created the universe including the earth and the first man Adam he said that everything he had made was good.

But then he declares what is not good.

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

The First Marriage Ceremony

So the man needed some help and God created Eve and as her father gives away the bride. 

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  (Genesis 2:22)

But then God also performs the marriage himself.

Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’  ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10:6-9)

One-flesh = A single organism. 

Therefore divorce is a type of amputation surgery similar to the removal of an arm or leg.

As John Piper says “When couples speak their vows and consummate their vows with sexual union, it is not man or woman or pastor or parent who is the main actor.  God is. God joins a husband and a wife into a one-flesh union. God does that! The world does not know this. This is one of the reasons why marriage is treated so casually in the world and in the church.”  

God solves the problem of man’s solitude through speaking marriage into existence. Just like he spoke into existence the light, the sky, etc. in the creation account. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)  And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” (Genesis 1:6) God also speaks into existence marriage.

[Jesus is speaking] “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  (Matthew 19:4-5) [God Said]

Why Did God Create Marriage?

Yes, he created marriage to solve the problem of solitude for Adam but there’s even more to the purpose of marriage.

Anytime the Bible talks about marriage it will mention the verse that follows the first marriage between Adam and Eve.

“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  (Genesis 2:24)

Paul quotes this verse in Ephesians but then he gives the all-important interpretation in verse 32.

“This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”  (Ephesians 5:31-32)

He refers to marriage as a mystery to people but he says that marriage is all about Christ and the church.

Geoffrey Bromiley said, “As God made man in His own image, so He made earthly marriage in the image of His own eternal marriage with his people.”    

Marriage Is for God’s Display

Throughout the Bible, Jesus refers to himself as a groom coming for his bride who are the true people of God (Matthew 9:15, 25:1, John 3:29).

As a groom pays a dowry for his bride in many cultures, Christ paid the dowry of his blood for his redeemed bride.  He called this relationship the new covenant “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).

A covenant is a promise. 

A promise is about actions not feelings. 

No one can promise to go on feeling a certain way.

Marriage is a sacred covenant rooted in covenant commitments that stand against every storm “as long as we both shall live.”

So marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant commitment to his church, not the other way around.

As God keeps covenant so shall we…God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”   (Hebrews 13:5)

So because marriage is a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the church a husband and wife can understand how to interact with each other by looking at the way that Christ and the church interact with each other.

Covenant Love Is To Pass Over Sin

Christ’s bride, the church, is free from shame not because we are perfect, but because we have no fear that Christ will condemn us or shame us with our sin.

That’s why in Genesis 2:25 it says that “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”  Because God had already designed marriage to display Christ and the church even before the fall of man into sin to exercise covenant love so that we could cover sins and flaws in each other. 

Staying married is not mainly about staying in love it is about covenant-keeping. Let the thrill of “being in love” go and then you will find new thrills all the time rooted in covenant love.

Marital covenant love that is distinct from “being in love” is maintained by the will, strengthened by habit, and reinforced by grace.

CS Lewis said: 

“It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run; being in love was the explosion that started it.”

Marriage’s Deepest, Highest Purpose

So the true purpose of marriage is not sexual intimacy, friendship, mutual helpfulness, child bearing or child-raising, etc. (as good as all of these things are) it is the flesh & blood display to the world of the covenant-keeping Christ to his church.

This is why Jesus said, “At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”  (Matthew 22:30)

We won’t need marriage in heaven to display God’s covenant anymore because we will be with God!

When you have this understanding of what the purpose of marriage is you and your spouse can stand up against any challenge. When your marriage is built on this rock no matter what storms come you will not be shaken.

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About the Author: Bill Davis

Dr. Bill Davis survived a spinal cord injury on November 26, 2011. After years of hopelessness he found a renewed purpose and is now on a mission to share hope and healing with the paralysis community for the glory of God.

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