Marriage - What's the Point?

Posted on 2:53 PM by
    The subject of marriage is a hot topic these days in the Christian community. The truth is that, again and again, statistics prove that Christians are essentially just as likely to divorce as non-Christians. The most recent study by Barna shows that while 33% of non-Christians that marry divorce at least once, the numbers for Christians are barely better at 32%. So, what is the real issue? Communication? Money? Intimacy? Why are Christians not able to stay together at a rate better than non-believers? I believe it is because Christians are living according to the same rules as non-Christians when it comes to the purpose of marriage. We often, like the world, believe that the point of marriage is to make us happy. That is not the point at all.
    The truth is, most of us got married in the first place because it made us happy. Not many took the time to sit down and really think about what the whole point of this relationship really is. Believe me, happiness in marriage is not a bad thing. In fact, I believe that it is a beautiful result of a Christ-centered relationship that should be sought. That blessing, however, is not the point of marriage. It's not the reason that we marry.
    I've had the joy of walking through pre-marital counseling with two couples these past few months, and it's given me the opportunity to really think through some things that I didn't really dig into the first time. There are many purposes of marriage that you find in the plethora of books out there on marriage, as well as in the pages of Scripture. Having kids, sanctification, companionship, and covenant are all good biblical purposes that we see of marriage in Scripture. There is one, however, that I believe stands out above the rest. It is also the one that is most often forgotten.
    In Ephesians 5, Paul quotes a popular verse from Genesis 2:24 that deals specifically with marriage: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (ESV) This is the earliest picture that we see of marriage in Scripture. Paul says something about this verse in Ephesians 5:32 that really lays out the purpose of marriage: "This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." Paul uses the term mystery here to refer to the fact that the real purpose of marriage has been veiled through the Old Testament period, but is now being revealed. It is profound, and it points to Christ and the church. To put it simply, the purpose of marriage is to be a picture of Christ's relationship with the church. Even more simply, marriage is a picture of the gospel.
    So why is understanding the purpose of marriage such an important thing? It changes the entire basis of the relationship. Ephesians 5:25 gives husbands the charge to "love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Christ was not seeking happiness, nor did he gain esteem or a home cooked meal every night. He constantly sacrificed Himself for a people that constantly turned their backs on Him. Husbands, we are to love in the same manner. Even when it costs us, even when it hurts, even when we aren't happy, we are to still love and sacrifice.
    Notice the effect this should have on Christian marriages. If our marriages are a picture of the gospel, there should be no divorce. Truthfully, when our marriages do split up it displays a broken picture of the gospel to the world. Why should people believe that God would love them unconditionally when our marriages consistently display conditional 'love'? John Piper puts it this way in his book A Momentary Marriage: "Therefore, what makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God's eyes is not merely that it involves covenant-breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and His covenant."
    Your marriage is part of your mission. In fact, it is the most important picture of the gospel in your life. As we display love, as Christ loved, to the best of our ability, people have the opportunity to see that a greater love exists. We have all made mistakes in the past that have cost us relationships, marriages, friendships, and even family. Please know that Christ pursues us even as we have turned our back on him. The question is for us now, do we understand that our marriage has a greater purpose than just a relationship between a husband and wife? It should display the gospel, make disciples, glorify God, encourage sanctification, and drive people to Jesus. It is the purpose of our life on earth to glorify God by sharing a message of hope in the midst of hopelessness, and it is the purpose of our marriage as well. It is bigger than you. It's about Him. Glorify God with your marriage.


Emily fitchlee said...

This was so great! If couples today would look at their relationship like this it would make such a huge difference!

Rachel said...

Awesome!! This is definitely something that I wanted to know. Thanks Joel!