By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
Chris and I sit in stillness and watch the snow blankets the earth outside our window. We refer to this season of life as the sweet spot.
Peace lives here. Nestled in between passion and purpose. In the twenty years Chris and I have been married, we’ve encountered hurt, humility, humbleness, and happiness with one question ever-present: What is God’s purpose for marriage?
If God says he is all that we need, why create the bonds and partnership of marriage? If he is supposed to be our comforter, our provider--then why?
The answer to this question starts in the garden of Eden. In those ancient days, God had just finished creating the world before he set to work on his masterpiece of man.
Once he finished with Adam, he realized it wasn’t good for man to be alone when he created the next masterpiece, Eve. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” Genesis 2:18. One of his greatest acts of Creation came when he united Eve to her husband—creating the first marriage in history.
God was also the first father in history to give away the bride. Genesis 2:22 says “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”
He didn't hide her and make Adam seek. He made her; then he brought her to Adam. When God led the woman to Adam, his joy was complete as he declared, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Genesis 2:23
Following this declaration, we read, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24. Jesus Himself repeats this verse in Matthew 19:5, and adds, “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).
Marriage Is Both Secular and Divine
Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan of creation. It is God’s doing, it is in him and from him. And his union of Adam and Eve illustrates his ideal for marriage—one man and one woman joined together in a life-long commitment to each other, working together to create strong, godly families.
We can’t really miss the point that God views marriage as a sacred and highly exalted relationship.
A marriage built on the foundation of God creates the platform to see him move deeply in our personal walk, in the spirit of our spouse and in the union of marriage too.
In other words, marriage was specifically created for each partner to share the following with each other: the pattern of the Trinity in their marriage and the example of the bridegroom coming for his church.
Marriage Is a Symbol of the Church
We find this example of the book of Ephesians when the Apostle Paul perceptively shared the greater reality of marriage—that the Church of God will become one with Christ Jesus in a divine marriage. Christ as the groom, prepares his bride for the great wedding super when he wrote:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33, emphasis added).
In other words, marriage directly symbolizes the relationship between Christ and his followers.
Having given some consideration of the sacred traits of marriage, we can now answer the WHY being marriage.
Marriage accommodates our social needs, no man is an island. We were created in relationship like the Trinity. The sacred Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is a fellowship we have been fashioned after.
Consider Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their hard work. For if one of them falls, the other can help his partner up. But what will happen to the one who falls with no one to help him up? Moreover, if two lie down together, they will stay warm, but how can just one keep warm? And someone may overpower one alone, but two together can take a stand against him. And a threefold cord cannot quickly be torn apart.”
A twofold cord, as this verse implies, might be torn apart; but three strands woven or braided together would be much harder to tear apart.
The reason we choose to marry, the reason God created marriage is driven by love. Love is a powerful emotion because God himself is love. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (John 4:8).
Because of love, God made the greatest sacrifice ever known to man when He came to earth in the form of a man (Jesus Christ) and died for our sins. God instructs the husband to view his wife in the same manner.
As we can see, God placed great emphasis on marriage between a man and a woman as a foreshadow of spiritual union with him.
What Does God Want for Your Marriage?
Now that we talked about how God created marriage, and how it mirrors Jesus’ relationship with his bride the church, we must understand what God wants for marriage.
You and your spouse need to know why God put you on this earth and what he wants you to accomplish as husband and wife. Many couples miss the mark and assume marriage is about achievements, like the big wedding, the house with the white picket fence and granite countertops. Next comes children, a boy and a girl and then planning for retirement debt-free.
While all of these things are good in its own right, there is much more God wants for your marriage.
He wants iron to sharpen iron. He wants you both to support each other and to pursue God with all your hearts, minds, and strengths. He wants you to have children and raise them to know and love Christ. He wants the love you two have for each to reflect the love he has for his people.
Ephesians 5:21-27 tells us, "...submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."
Men and women both agree it is hard to love sacrificially. Women will agree it’s tough to submit to an imperfect man. But this is picture of God’s love. A love that gives up its own wants and needs. A love that is given to the other even when it is underserved.
The divine purpose is beyond the day to day responsibilities because he has called the both of you to serve his Kingdom right where you are. You both may be called to host small groups in your home, support a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. You could be called to lead a Bible study like, "Every Man’s Battle" or even go on a mission’s trip.
Marriage is resilient, often flourishing in the face of adversity or trial when both have learned to respect one another and to trust in and live to the glory of God.
Your marriage should always be treated with honor, respect, and sacredness—as a reflection of God’s great love for his people!
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone) with her three kids and husband of 20 years. She writes to bring bold truths to marriage, career, mental health, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Franciele Cunha
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.