Marriage - Why Does it Exist?
Marriage - Why Does It Exist?
In the last few years in this country we have seen an ongoing attempt to redefine the marriage relationship. Honestly, I believe to the core that the original version from the very hand of God, found in Genesis in all its pristine beauty, is best:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
To this original design Jesus added the following commendation, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:6). “Listen up. Pay attention. This marriage is a paradigm for all marriages. It’s not a one-off. It’s a template for all marriages to following” (Loveology, John Mark Comer, p. 53). In other words, this was not just the plan or purpose for the marriage of Adam and Eve, but for all who marry. To this, Jesus agreed (Mark 10:6).
Not Good: Genesis 2:18
- God's announcement that it was "not good" for man to be alone, follows God's declaring all things good in Genesis 1:31 – for the declaring of "all things good" is found at the end of a broad overview that includes the creation of Eve (Genesis 1:27 “Male and female He created them”). In Genesis 2, we focus again back on the sixth day, and in 2:18 we are on the verge of woman’s entrance into the world. Why, before her creation, was it not yet good? Adam is created in the image of a God who Himself is not alone (1:26). And since God, who dwells in a perfect state, is not alone, why should Adam be? “God exists in a web of relationships” (Comer, p. 52) and such was God's plan for his children. Adam needs help to subdue the earth. The task given is obviously far too momentous for one person (1:28). Besides, how is Adam going to be fruitful and multiply without Eve? (1:28). God could have chosen a number of ways to grow people, but He wanted one that was exceptionally beautiful in its symbolism.
“All You Need is God”
This statement sounds true enough, but I don’t find the Bible making such a declaration. Note that prior to the creation of woman, Adam has God and yet God Himself created Adam in such a way that having God is not enough, and God announces it is not enough (2:18). This does not mean that everyone must marry (1 Corinthians 7:8), yet God is saying that we do so very much need human interaction, friendship, and marriage, which is the ultimate in the category of human intimacy. It is the one human relationship that best parallels the beautiful, sacrificial relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:23ff).
“It’s a graphic, weighty word. When you combine it with the word flesh, it basically means ‘fused together at the deepest levels'. And the exact same word is used for God (being one/Deuteronomy 6:4). God is fused together at the deepest levels (John 17:20-21; John 1:1). And in marriage we catch glimpses, hints, shadows of that kind of oneness” (Comer, p. 56). One way of capturing the idea of “one flesh” in modern language might be that one’s spouse is to be, by far, one’s closest friend.
“Your Other Half”
Often people talk of their spouse as their "better half" and I know what they mean. Yet, we need to make sure that we don’t come to some wrong conclusions. The Greeks taught that men and women were originally one, but then Zeus split humans in two (cutting their strength in half) so they would not become a threat to the gods. Plato wrote that ever since, we have been searching for our missing half, that special person who will finally complete you and I. The Biblical account is different:
- We are not incomplete. A single man or woman can serve God and fill a fulfilling life just as a married person can. The apostle Paul is just one example of that.
- Anyone that we will find will have flaws, and some flaws may be resolved and new flaws surface, so, as wonderful as your spouse may be, there is not and can never be a perfect person who will finally and entirely complete us (Romans 3:23).
- Two imperfect people do not form a perfect person, rather marriage is a relationship in which two imperfect people coming together to serve God. “And one broken person plus another broken person does not equal bliss (apart from God). The math adds up in the opposite direction – twice as much brokenness. The point of marriage isn’t to find our missing half. It’s to help each other become all that God intended” (Comer, p. 72).
A Helper For What?
Observe that prior to the formation of Eve, God gave man an assignment or work to perform (Genesis 2:15). Then after Eve was created, more work was assigned (Genesis 1:28).
- God gave this couple a purpose, something to do, a divine mission, just as God has given Christians today a definite mission (Ephesians 2:10). Comer makes a good point when he notes that healthy marriages are built around such an assignment. “Couples who exist simply for one another are doomed to failure. If the point of your marriage is your marriage, it will collapse in on itself. If the end goal of your relationship is your relationship, it will self-destruct” (p. 60).
- Remember, a helpmeet is neither an employee or a boss. The word “suitable” means “on the same level”. “It’s one who comes alongside as a partner in a project, as an ally in a war” (Comer, p. 61). The battle for the well-being of our souls in this dark world is as fierce as it is real. This naturally begs the question, “Why would I ever marry someone who is not heading in the same eternal direction?” “If he isn’t doing anything with his life that matters for God’s kingdom, how will you partner with him? If he isn’t going anywhere, how will you follow him? If his life is just about the day-to-day kind of pleasures, how will you entrust your future… to him?” (Comer, p. 62).
- And men, do not marry a woman who is not interested in being your ally in war. “If she does not want to help you in kingdom work, how will your marriage be about more than your marriage? If you ignore this and get into a marriage with no sense of calling (spiritual direction - MD), it’s only a matter of time until you start thinking, ‘What now?’ What’s next?’” (Comer, p. 62).
- God simply put it the question this way, “What has an unbeliever in common with a unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:15).
Being fruitful (having babies) was placed into the context of marriage (2:24-25). How sad that some unbelievers think that God is against sexual intimacy, when such was a part of the first instruction given. And the Garden of Eden is not the only place God steers us toward physical intimacy, it is likewise mandated among Christians in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. (Imagine God having to command people to be intimate with their mates?) Yet we do live in a culture that is prone to the extremes of both hedonism and asceticism. Two other extremes is that one group is definitely anti-children. Children are seen as a nuisance and family as a hindrance to personal fulfillment and freedom. Yet the Bible views children as blessings and family as a place of safety and freedom (Psalm 127). Another group idolizes children. “Kids become gods. Parents exist to make the children happy. All too often the marriage is sacrificed on the altar of child-centered parenting” (Comer, p. 65).
The Bible presents a far better point of view. Family exists to spread the truth about God, to create stability in communities and nations as well (Ephesians 6:4). Family exists for the benefit of all, men, women and children. Family exists as the foundation of civilization. Most of us who have travelled have learned that the parts of any city that are most without families, where real moms and dads seem to be virtually absent, are frequently not safe live or even to visit.
Let's determine to make our marriages all they can be. Let's make them about bringing out the best in someone else, and allowing our spouse to bring about the best in us. Let's use our beautiful marriage relationships to further God’s kingdom with a partner, to teach the next generation, and make the world a better place. And more than anything else, let's make our marriages all about what they were designed to be about – glorifying our Creator together.
Mark Dunagan | email@example.com
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017