Why do you want to get married? This is one of the first questions I ask in pre-marriage counselling. It is crucially important. You see, from the “why” question flows a plethora of expectations that, if left unmet, will create a pretty frustrated marriage. Perhaps you are married and are experiencing the bitter fruit of wrong expectations because you really do not know God’s design for marriage. Let us recalibrate our aim with God’s, lest years down the track we find that we are miles away from God’s intended destination.
What is God’s purpose for marriage? The short answer is simple – to glorify God. Paul said,
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory to God” 1 Cor 10:31
Our marriages should strive to fulfill this purpose and so reflect Christ’s perfect union with His church.
However, let us tease out what glorifying God in our marriages looks like. To do this we need to reach back to Genesis 2 where God instituted the first ever marriage. There he made Adam and placed him in a beautiful garden with the task to “work it and keep it” (2:15), having dominion over it, and by doing this spread God’s glory across the face of the earth. However, such an enormous task and immense responsibility is too great for one man. Therefore, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). God determined to make woman to be his “helper” (v.18), not to fix his loneliness, but to share the burden of the work, to help propagate future generations of workers and enjoy the fruit of the most personal and intimate relationship on earth. What is marriage and how do we glorify God in it? Marriage is a one-flesh union, created by God for His glory, where a man and woman serve in loving union to further His kingdom on earth.
What an astounding task. What a high and dignified privilege. When a husband and wife are united in this aim, their marriage is not only fulfilling God’s purpose, but it is wielding the best weapon to protect it. Marriages that selflessly strive for God’s glory in this way become impervious to attack inside and out.
Unfortunately, what often occurs is instead of marriage becoming an accelerator for the service to God and His church it becomes a brake. This is not God’s design. Remember, God must always be first. Marriage is instituted by God for God. He is your aim, not ultimately the marriage. Husbands can put their leadership of their marriage before God. Wives can put the care of their family as first priority. Both can put each other. These are but a few examples of deficient idols that will take God’s place if God is not first.
Let’s end where we started. Do you aspire to marry? Are you married? Why? What might those reasons be? God created marriage as a relationship to enjoy. But most importantly, He created it as a union for God, to be used to spread His glory over the earth as you take up your respective roles (Eph 5:22-33). You will never find the fulness of joy, protection and fulfillment in marriage until you find it in the purpose God created marriage for. Serve God in your marriage by embracing God’s purpose and may God’s kingdom grow more together than apart. If you are single with a desire for marriage, prepare yourself by diligently serving God in your singleness. Make God preeminent and seek a spouse who is doing the same. For those called into this holy union may we know the deep and abiding joy marriage can bring and may God’s kingdom advance all the more together than apart.
Book recommendation: Married for God by Christopher Ash.