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What is the purpose of marriage?

As we recall in the renowned story of creation, God created man and said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. So, God formed woman from the rib of man. He took her out of him. (Genesis 2:18-23) Man was separated. Something, a part of him, had been pulled out of him, leaving a vacancy in his chest. Seemingly, when we come together in marriage, we are completing what was once separated, causing what was lost to become whole again. Moreover, God created both male and female in His image – not just man, not just woman – both are the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) So also, in coming together, we are a reflection of the image of God.

Jesus is referred to as the Bridegroom and the church as His bride. The Bible tells us when our long-anticipated Christ returns for us, we will be united with Him in a “wedding ceremony”. (Ephesians 5:31-32, Revelation 19:7-9, 21:1-2) Our marriages are an allegory of our union with Christ. Just as Jesus came to serve and give up His life for His bride, so are we to serve one another and give up our lives for one another. Marriage, God’s reflection, looks more like service and sacrifice than seeking fulfillment.

A few other purposes of marriage are companionship, enjoyment, protection, provision for needs and procreation. While those are all wonderful benefits of marriage, any of those reasons alone are not enough to sustain a marriage. Marrying in order to find happiness and fulfillment, to find someone who will meet our needs, will not maintain a strong marriage. If one’s spouse does not fulfill one’s needs and expectations (and let’s be honest, no one can), it will be sought out through other relationships or outlets. The marriage that depends on each other alone will simply hang on by a thread. Furthermore, relying on a person for fulfillment is a form of idolatry – sin #1 of the Ten Commandments.

Do you think Jesus’ needs were met by any one person? It sounds ridiculous to think of Jesus depending on people to fill His emotional tank, crying Himself to sleep because unkind things were said to Him leaving Him feeling pretty down on Himself. Jesus spent long amounts of time in the Father’s Presence, being filled with the Spirit. That’s how he endured walking this earth. And that’s how He tells us we need to endure this earth. (Matthew 6:33, John 15:1-5, Luke 10:38-42) He knows people will, at times, let us down but He never will. Though it brings God joy when we meet one another’s needs, He knows we are human and it’s impossible for us to completely meet another’s needs. He doesn’t want us to depend on others to meet our needs. He wants our dependence on Him.

In trying to fill all our spouse’s needs, we find ourselves wholly insufficient. Though we love our spouses, we fail his/her expectations and responsibilities a great deal. However, that doesn’t mean our marriages are doomed to failure! If the purpose of marriage is to reflect the image of God, meeting our spouse’s needs through service is parallel to our relationship with Christ. If we serve Christ by serving others, then nurturing our marriages through serving our spouse will naturally reflect the image of God.

“Marriage In Abundance” exists to help marriages reflect the image of God, guiding married people to meet one another’s needs. Though only God can completely fill our needs, God has not expired his expectations for us to try to fill one another’s needs. The Bible is full of “one another” verses instructing us to meet one another’s needs, 59 of them to be precise. Love one another, be devoted to one another, instruct one another, serve one another, forgive one another, carry one another’s burdens, be kind and compassionate to one another, spur one another on toward love and good deeds, encourage one another, pray for one another…just to name a few. (John 13:34, Romans 12:10, Romans 15:14, Galatians 5:13, Ephesians 4:32, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 10:24, 25, James 5:16).

Selfishness and marriage cannot coexist. Marriage is about unity and teamwork, fighting together toward the same goals. Just as Christ-followers are required to deny themselves for a greater cause, (Luke 9:23) the same is true in a marriage. Once we lose ourselves, we find real life. (Matthew 10:39) In the same way, once we die to our selfish desires, only then will our marriages thrive.

Our marriage goal is to, as a unified team, reflect the image of God, resemble the union of Jesus and the church, to prepare one another for the upcoming “wedding ceremony”, to sharpen one another, to snuff out our selfishness, to spur one another toward purity and righteousness, to cheer one another on in order to continue this spiritual battle and fight the enemy together with one power-packed punch!