The Purpose of Marriage

Title: The Purpose of Marriage

[Audio http://ab86qw.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pzSAwOxJaSaejTMQ-aAc8ZRYbxbwwgMFtIAF0Y71Ujhy05lAdAdmcIuZg2cvx39xJz7sDgP4E9F-MEpzhzDq8Jg/9-7-08thepurposeofmarriage.mp3%5D

Text: Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15-24

Time: August 27, 2008

We’ve been studying what the Bible teaches concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage. I’ve talked about what marriage is, but I haven’t taught on what exactly is the purpose of marriage; today, I’d like to do that. From the looks of things today most people who marry don’t have a clue as to what is the actual purpose of marriage. How do I know that? Because of all the divorces that takes place in our society every year. Fully ½ of all marriages will end in divorce. A big reason for the divorce epidemic is simply people don’t know the purpose of marriage to begin with, they get married, and then their marriage fails. If people knew what the real purpose of marriage is, they’d probably have a better chance of succeeding in marriage. So with that in mind, I’d like to attempt to outline what is the purpose of marriage according to God in his Word, since the Word of God is the only authoritative source we can turn to for answers. Genesis 1:26-28, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’” And Genesis 2:15-24, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. . . . The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. . . . But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” This is a very famous passage from the Old Testament of the Bible; it is often read at wedding ceremonies and in church services. Unfortunately, the passage is rarely reflected upon and discussed by engaged couples before they get married, which is unfortunate, because if they’d only take the time to clearly understand the purpose of marriage, they might be able to avoid divorce later on. Almost all divorce comes from a total lack of or improper understanding of the purpose of marriage. Once the purpose of marriage is understood, it’s easier to enter into and carry out a successful marriage. So then the need to understand the purpose of marriage is essential. More important is it to spend time studying and discussing the purpose of marriage than the time spent to plan and prepare for the wedding itself. Because the wedding is a one-time event, but the marriage is a long-term process. If you are planning on getting married in the future, or even if you’ve already married, you will benefit from learning God’s plan and purpose for marriage as outlined in the Bible. Let me outline three main purposes for marriage according to God.

First, marriage is for the purpose of partnership in doing the will of God. Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” And Genesis 2:15, 18, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. . . . The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” The order is this: God places the man Adam in the Garden to do something; Adam has work to do. Adam is given his calling, his vocation, his activity – doing God’s will. But he isn’t able to fulfill his calling alone, so God creates the woman Eve as a helper; and together they go about the activity of doing God’s will, which is generally to oversee the earth and specifically to tend the Garden. So the first purpose of marriage is to form a partnership in order to better fulfill the will of God on earth. We remember the words of Jesus in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” Matthew 6:10. That’s the basic idea and one of God’s original purposes for marriage. Immediately we see why there are so many divorces and why so many people are clueless as to what marriage is and what is it’s purpose – they don’t understand that it’s a partnership for doing the will of God. Most couples getting married are distorting the Lord’s Prayer into something like this: “Our kingdom come, our will be done on earth regardless of what is done in heaven.” And then later on in a marriage that is failing, each person is then praying, “My kingdom come, my will be done on earth. . . .” Is it any wonder why marriages fail? According to God’s Word an important purpose for marriage is partnership in doing the will of God. Now the man has his specific calling from God as does the woman, but in marriage these two callings from God come together to form a unified whole. The woman helps the man fulfill his calling from God, and the man helps his wife fulfill her calling from God. There is mutual assistance. Just as Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.” I remember from my days as a Boy Scout many years ago, they used what is called the “Buddy System,” which is basically the policy that while swimming everyone always has a buddy to watch out for one another. Whenever the scout leader blew the whistle you had to run over to your buddy scout and hold up their hand. If you couldn’t find your buddy you had to leave the water. This was a way to keep scouts safe while swimming because each scout was watching out for another scout. Well, it’s the same in a marriage partnership. The man and woman watch out for each other and help one another in carrying out God’s will on earth. God’s purpose for marriage is mutual assistance. But that’s not all.

Two, marriage is for the purpose of procreation, bringing and raising children in the world. Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them (Adam and Eve) and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth. . . .” Now most couples understand this purpose of God for marriage. In fact, most couples actually do bring children into the world, but unfortunately today, many do so grudgingly, or with hesitation, not with joy and gladness. The role of children in a marriage has steadily gone downward in the last few generations. Until recently, married couples saw children as if not the most important purpose of marriage, close to it, but that’s not how most couples see it today. For most couples today, children take a decidedly back-seat to the couple’s own personal happiness and fulfillment. There has definitely been a switch from the traditional child-centered marriage of the past to the clearly “personal fulfillment” centered marriage of today. It seems as if the goal of marriage today is to have the absolute minimum number of children, maybe one, two at the most, and then no more, because any more would take away from the time and resources of the man and woman finding personal fulfillment in life. It’s common to find a woman reaching the age of 30 and announcing that she’ll have no more children, and then after the few children she has leave home announcing, “Now it’s my time!” It seems as if the goal in many marriages today is for the man and the woman to live as much as singles as possible, singles living together for the purpose of fun and fulfillment. It’s amazing to read the many singles’ dating profiles on the internet through services like Match.com, Eharmony.com, Yahoo Personals, etc. What you find today is single people looking for marriage, but not for the traditional and biblical reasons, but for the modern purpose of self-fulfillment. Their profiles are full of descriptions of favorite entertainment and recreational activities, but very little descriptions of the more mundane, typical, yet essential marriage and family activities. Especially absent are descriptions of children or child-raising concerns. It’s mostly all about having fun, enjoying life, and experiencing as many thrilling activities as possible – and looking for someone to share these experiences with. But that isn’t what God designed marriage to be – two singles living together for the purpose of fun and fulfillment. No. God’s purpose for marriage is for mutual assistance in doing his will and for the bringing forth and raising of children. Clearly today we need a revival in responsible child-rearing, and the return to a greater emphasis on the importance of children in the family. But there is another purpose from God for marriage.

Three, marriage is for the purpose of mutual encouragement and inspiration. Genesis 2:22-25, “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.” What many modern couples may be reacting to today is the teaching that marriage is children and chores. Modern couples want to feel that marriage should be for pleasure and fulfillment — as an over-reaction against the traditional teaching on marriage that has often neglected personal enjoyment within marriage as a purpose. But while traditional church teaching on marriage may overlook personal satisfaction as a purpose for marriage, God’s Word, the Bible, doesn’t overlook the personal purpose of marriage. In fact, the Bible teaches that a main purpose of marriage is mutual encouragement, inspiration and satisfaction through the sexual relationship. The Bible is quite frank about its description of the joys of sex within marriage. Sex is meant as an encouragement and an inspiration for the married couple. It is a good gift from God. In the words of James in the New Testament, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,” James 1:17. An entire book of the Bible is devoted to marital love – the Song of Solomon. And there are many passages in Proverbs, such as Proverbs 5:18, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth,” that celebrate marital intimacy. No, the Bible isn’t shy about promoting and affirming the physical and sexual purpose of marriage. But it hasn’t always been the case within the church. For many centuries, due to the sinfulness of humanity and the difficulty in teaching such things, the church has communicated a negative message about sex. There is a long tradition within the church that sex is a subject not spoken of in public. Consequently, most people had to get their information about sex and marital love outside of the church, which has resulted in much confusion and misinformation. Today, that attitude is changing, but it’s still difficult to hear about God’s instructions concerning God’s purpose for sex coming from most churches. God invented sex, originally designed and introduced sex to Adam and Eve in the Garden. Sin and disobedience have distorted God’s original design and purpose, but there is still great blessing for husband and wife in marital sex. It’s one of God’s original purposes for marriage.

So there are the three main purposes for marriage found in the Bible. First, marriage is for the purpose of partnership in doing God’s will. Two, marriage is for the purpose of procreation, bring children into the world and raising them to be godly adults. Third, marriage is for the purpose of mutual encouragement and inspiration, chief of which is sexual intimacy. Of course, there are many other purposes for marriage, and the list could go on and on forever, but these are the top three purposes for marriage as outlined in the Bible. If couples could keep these three purposes in mind many a divorce could be avoided. If singles would keep these three purposes for marriage in mind as they search for a marriage mate, their search could be more productive. Many of the silly and superficial qualifications and requirements that singles measure each other against could be avoided if they would learn and reflect on God’s three main purposes for marriage. Important questions emerge from the knowledge of God’s purpose for marriage. Questions such as, “Would this person help me in fulfilling my personal calling from God?” Such a question might even prompt that person to ask himself, “Do I even know what God’s personal calling is for my life?” If one doesn’t know what one’s calling is, how can they find someone to help them fulfill it? It’s pretty risky to search for someone to marry and count on them to help one find one’s calling in life. Presumably, that should already be known, or at least some clue as to what it is known. It’s a very dangerous thing to count on a spouse to help one find one’s calling. Each single should already have a clue as to what role God is calling them to play in life, even before marriage. But other questions such as, “Would this person be good in raising godly children with me?” are entirely appropriate. “Does this person have a healthy vision for children or is she caught up in the worldly emphasis on self or selfish personal fulfillment or the accumulation of possessions?” These are important questions. And then finally, questions such as, “Will this person be an encouragement to me in marriage? Would I be able to inspire and encourage this person in marriage?” God definitely calls a couple to a marriage partnership in order to accomplish God’s will on earth, and certainly God normally calls couples to reproduce, bearing and raising children. But God also calls men and women to encourage and inspire one another through mutual love and romance. It isn’t enough to work, work, work. There must be time for relaxation and enjoyment, of life, of each other. God gives married couples sex for this very reason. In fact, it’s one of the main purposes for marriage as designed by God.

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