Thoughts About Marriage: The Purpose Of Your Marriage
Author Lance Phelps – 9 minute read
I have been thinking a lot lately about why we get married. Why do we marry one another? Is it for the culture and community building? Is it for the intimacy? There are many answers to this questions and I think that each one has a real impact on how a marriage operates. Now before you click away because this may feel like it doesn’t apply to you let me assure you: you have a reason to be married. You may not be immediately aware of your reason but it is there, just below the surface, informing your decisions regarding your marriage life.
To be clear I understand that there can be, and really almost always are, many reasons to get and stay married all lumped into one “super-reason”. But there nevertheless are reasons. So what are those reasons?
Reason 1: For Self-Fulfillment
Emotional fulfillment is a powerful reason to get and to stay married. This is more true in this new culture than it has been. And this is also part of the reason for the increase in divorce that we have seen in the last 50 or so years. It just doesn’t make sense to stay married in this new culture if you are no longer “in love.”
But, while this reason is popular and in a small way this is a part of God’s design for marriage (more on this in a minute), this cannot be a workable reason for marriage.
Reason 2: To Build Your Community
This is more of the reason that people used use to get married. Adding members to your community that you have complete control over from their birth is a wonderful way to make your tribe grows larger while at the same time ensuring that your ideology continues into the next generation. Also, as it was in years way past, making babies was like making inexpensive labor for your clan. Many children meant prosperity. This is part of the reason that the Bible speaks of them as such a blessing. In keeping with this Biblical wisdom the blessing of children in today’s modern culture cannot be swept away as an antiquated concept meant for another time. Children remain a spiritual and even fiscal blessing. Yet as the ultimate reason for marriage this falls short once again.
Reason 3: For Personal Enrichment
In the modern age we have seen the rise of two spouses working outside of the home which gives rise to a third, if less prevalent, reason for marriage. This reason can be more complex and it tends to evade definition. But we can get married for financial reasons other than to have many children. Again this reason seems uncommon but nevertheless the heart behind this reason can contribute to the collective ultimate reason for getting and staying married.
The Biblical Reason: God’s Glory
While these reason are not in and of themselves evil. After all, does not the Bible speak of children as a blessing? And does it not also speak of the emotional benefits of marriage? Yes. But these are to be merely gifts that a good Father gives to his children for their good. But when a child turns to the gift to give him or her meaning and purpose in life the blessing is made by the child into a curse. So too can marriage be a way for us to try and find meaning and purpose in life. This is, needless to say, a terrible thing to do.
Not too long ago the Apostle Paul took me by surprise by counseling the Corinthians to get married if they could not control their sexual cravings. It had not dawned on me before that time but in truth if a younger Lance was counseling a couple I would have told them to not get married if they struggled with lust. But I was mistaken because I did not have God’s glory as the ultimate purpose of marriage. If marriage can be seen as a way to help with purity than it is clearly meant for another reason other than the glory of man. This is evident in Ephesians 5 when Paul tells us that marriage is an analogy for Christ and the church. And further we cannot see marriage as the only good option for a single person. Paul tells us that singleness is itself a great gift that brings God glory by allowing the single person to devote themselves wholly to the king.
Let us see our marriages like this:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:16–17