What Is the Real Purpose of Marriage?

[Excerpt from http://studyOfJohn.com/ regarding Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana]

Many commentaries note how conducting His first appearance and first miracle at a wedding are nothing short of His endorsement of marriage. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary, as one of four points, described how Christ’s mission of redemption was illustrated in His endorsement of marriage: “As the miracle did not make bad good, but good better, so Christianity only redeems, sanctifies, and ennobles the beneficent but abused institution of marriage…”

The point of the matter is the institution of marriage has been abused almost since the day it began. The Pharisees recognized this. In their defense of divorce in front of Jesus, they claimed Moses authorized a man to put away his wife. But Christ set them straight, saying Moses allowed it only because of the hardness of their hearts and then He condemned divorce, calling it adultery (Mat 19:3-9 see also Mar 10:2-12). In both the Gospel accounts, Jesus also reaffirmed marriage is between a man and a woman and they were put together by God.

One of the largest arguments supporting same-sex marriage is the long history of failure within the institution of marriage of the tradition type. Christian’s must not fall for this argument; they must be faithful NOT to concede this battlefront because marriage is given by God as a blessing and an institution (Gen 2:24). Christ reaffirmed this (Mat 19:5; Mar 10:7) and the apostles reinforced it saying the two shall become one flesh and let the marriage bed be undefiled (Eph 5:31; Heb 13:4). The fact of mans’ fallen nature marring the beauty God has given is no excuse for elevating sin or allowing evil to take the place of God’s design.

This brings up another matter: What is the purpose of marriage?

When I was young, I heard theories such that marriage is a 50/50 proposition – each spouse contributing fifty percent. Later, I heard theories proposing each party give fifty-one percent, then one hundred percent – then one hundred ten percent. These theories were all in the name of getting peoples’ attention to keep their marriages together. Lately there was a blog post gone viral on the internet titled, “Marriage Isn’t For You.” The premise is each spouse should not look to their own interests in the marriage but wholly look to their spouse’s interest.

The conclusion of the viral blog post is this: “Love is about the person you love. And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered. Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.” This might sound all warm and good but a closer look reveals very bad theology. Even my professing Christian friends were passing this around – but what would the Bible say?

First, let’s take a closer look at what the objectives of the viral blog post were:
1) The author is a Mormon but he also promotes secular and pagan philosophies (Forward Walking, the Seven Paths, Kamauoha, etc);
2) He references a spouse as “significant other” so the writing can apply to concubines and same-sex relationships;
3) The person you love (spouse?) becomes the object of the marriage – or relationship; and
4) The reward for your unselfishness will become ultimate happiness for you – which makes this the goal. I say this because this was the purpose of the article: he had become selfish in his marriage and his wife reached out by becoming unselfish; he decided to “try harder” and found ultimate happiness and thus, the article was written to spread this joy around. So, yes, the goal of unselfish living is to find the most happiness – this goes hand-in-hand with the other secular and pagan philosophies the author promotes.

The Bible tells us God claims the glory in marriage. In one example, God tells us the purpose of marriage is that He might have Godly offspring (Mal 2:15). There are other examples, such as where the Apostle Paul tells us marriage is representative of Christ and the Church (Eph 5:22-33). It would detract from this study to do a thorough examination of marriage at this time but we will look at this verse in Malachi because it is specific and clear God has laid claim to the marriage relationship. In this verse, He lays claim to what man produces through the marriage relationship. He also reaffirms it is He who has put the two together as husband and wife and it is for Him that we must stay faithful.

Does this mean a marriage without children is not blessed by or ordained by God? Not necessarily. God is talking about the purpose of the institution of marriage. What this verse does affirm is:
1) Marriage is for God’s glory (in this case, that He might have Godly offspring);
2) Marriage is His idea and His creation (did He not make them one?);
3) God has blessed the institution of marriage and the union of husband and wife (with a portion of the Spirit in their union).
4) For this reason, we are to guard against becoming unfaithful (so guard yourselves … let none of you be faithless).

So, when you boil all this down, the happiness of our spouse is not the purpose of our marriage. The purpose of our marriage is to give glory to God. The reason we have children is to give glory and pleasure to God. The reason we stand boldly for the institution of marriage is to give glory to God. The reason we stay faithful to our spouse is to give glory to God.

Using the tools of the viral blog post, we can set up our spouse to become our idol. If we get off track in this matter, we can be deceived that God is glorified in our quest for ultimate happiness. There was a man who fell into this trap and after struggling to determine the purpose of life amid the seeming vanity of it all, Solomon concluded, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13] We need to keep our focus on glorifying God in our marriage.

And taking from the example of Christ in this miracle: everything He does is very good or excellent. Our duty as God’s creation is to imitate Him (Gen 1:26-27). Thus, we should heed the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in everything we do to do it all for the glory of God (1Co 10:31). There is no exception – in everything we do, including our marriage – we imitate Christ’s excellence for the glory of God.

About the author: cominus

Cominus is the pen-name for Dean Isaacson. He was chairman of the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee (Washington) 1990 to 1992. He conducted legal research for the late Supreme Court Justice William C. Goodloe for several years and led Judicial Forum for many years. Now, he is a crazy kinda guy who spends most his time doing cold calls. He plays his harmonica in the truck because people don't want to listen to him practice - but his dog, Miles (black dachshund), loves to sing along. He is passionate about being passionate because everyone is really into passionate these days but tires easily and hides behind emails. His core belief is you will choose to serve God or you will serve the state - tyrants, as William Penn called it.

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