Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Marriage For?

            What are the reasons in the Bible for us to get married? Why did God ordain marriage and why did he let it continue after the fall? Here are some Biblical reasons for marriage.  The first five would all be true even if man had not sinned. Only the last two are a result of sin in some way, though of course sin affects our ability to fulfill the first five. By the way the picture to the left is me officiating a wedding. I love ministering at weddings for my congregation. It is great chance to remind the whole church what marriage is for and how we can honor Christ in it. 

First, God ordained marriage for taking dominion over the earth. Genesis 1:26-28 gives us God’s original plan for the creation of man.  Man was given dominion over the earth, he was to fill the earth and subdue it. Eve was to be Adam’s helper in this task (Genesis 2:18). Psalm 8 makes it clear that this dominion still belongs to man even after the sin in the Garden of Eden. Now, man cannot truly fulfill this until he redeemed by Christ. But Christ redeems us so that we might participate in His taking dominion over the earth.  A single person can participate in the dominion mandate. But typically we fulfill this command through getting married and having children.

Second, God ordained marriage to be a witness to Christ and his Church. Churches love to talk about evangelism, which is of course a good thing. But there is only one relationship that is explicitly called a picture of Christ and his Church; marriage. Ephesians 5:22-33 makes it clear that when a man and woman get married they immediately become a living, breathing painting of Jesus and His Bride. This means our marriages always point to something greater than the marriage itself. A failed or bad Christian marriage is a slander of Jesus Christ.

Third, God ordained marriage for our companionship. It was not good for Adam to be alone. God himself is not alone, but is Triune, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Our spouses should not just be our lovers or someone we work alongside. Our spouses should be our best friends. Over the years we are married there should be a deep emotional and spiritual intimacy that develops between husband and wife. We should not aim to marry our soul mate. But the person we marry should become our soul mate.

Fourth, God ordained marriage for the bearing of children. This is explicitly stated in Genesis 1:28. The Scriptures see children of covenant parents as a great blessing to God and his Kingdom. The Scriptures assume and expect that godly marriages will be fruitful and bear many children (See Deut. 28:4, 11, Psalm 127-128, I Timothy 5:10, 14, Titus 2:4).  A couple that refuses to bear children is violating God’s Word. If a couple cannot have children that does not mean they are not blessed by God. God intends to bless that couple in other ways and for them to honor him in some other way. However, most Christian marriages should result in a having many children and bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Fifth, God ordained marriage for our physical pleasure. Proverbs 5:15-20 and the Song of Solomon make this point. The sexual relationship is not just for the bearing of children or for sexual protection. It is also for the joy and pleasure of the couple. God intended for us to enjoy our spouses physically.

Sixth, God ordained marriage for the sexual protection of the man and woman. Paul makes this clear in I Corinthians 7:2-5. Getting married is one of the ways God provides for us physically and keeps us from burning with lust. The way so many in our culture wait to get married leads naturally to promiscuity, pornography, and other sexual sins. 

Seventh, God ordained marriage so we might learn to die. Or to put it another way, God ordained marriage for our sanctification.  There are few situations like marriage and raising children that can show someone their sinful heart. We get married believing we are great and wonderful, only to find out that there are a lot of ungodly thoughts and emotions that we need to confess and turn from. Later we think have grown then children come along and the process starts all over again. God can and does sanctify us in other ways. But again marriage is his usual way of helping us grow in the image of Christ.  

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8