The Purpose of Marriage – Why It’s Worth Fighting For
It’s the week of February 14. The one day a year the whole country loses its collective mind over chocolates, hearts, roses, and hugely unrealistic romantic expectations. Let’s face it. We love to celebrate love. But while we are fixated as a culture on love and romance, we’re really confused about what love really is. Guys are told from movies, music, and media that if they can conquer a beautiful woman then they are truly men. Little girls are raised on fairy tales where the man of her dreams never says an insensitive thing or struggles with his own insecurities. Our culture regularly portrays true love as a romantic feeling with one person totally meeting the needs of the other. We’re told that human love should cover our insecurities and fulfill us completely. Basically we want our human partner to be God.
It’s no surprise, then, that most people are very disappointed, even disillusioned when it comes to our expectations of love within the marriage relationship. A husband who is supposed to sacrifice his own needs for his wife and go out of his way to be romantic and thoughtful forgets their anniversary to play a pick-up game with his buddies. The wife who used to laugh at all her husband’s jokes and admire him now just criticizes his every move and is constantly disappointed. In real life we are constantly let down by our spouse because they are human and will always fall short of our culture’s view of love and marriage.
No wonder most people are still searching for love all the while marriages are falling apart at astonishing rates. Not only are divorce rates well over 50%, a study performed by the Pew Research Center reported that the share of Americans who are married is at its lowest point since at least 1920. People long for love but are giving up on marriage. The same report lists the top reason people marry is for love. But what happens when the other person fails to love you? What happens when the “feeling” of love is no longer there after you’ve hurt one another over and over?
What if love alone is not the answer?
In Genesis 2:21-24 we get a picture of God’s greater plan and purpose for marriage:
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made (fashioned, formed) into a woman, and He brought her and presented her to the man. 23 Then Adam said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed or embarrassed.
What does it mean to be ONE FLESH and why is this important in understanding the purpose of marriage?
At the heart of it all is the fact that the essence of God himself is oneness. He is three distinct persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each has different roles and purposes, but they are so completely unified in purpose and action that they are completely one. When men and women were created in the image of God, they were created to be in perfect oneness just like him. God literally made Eve out of Adam’s flesh. They were two individuals with different personalities, gifts and roles but made of one flesh. Their oneness was a reflection of God’s image.
The most beautiful part here is that Adam and Eve were not ashamed or embarrassed about being naked. In other words, their attention was so focused on God and on their fellowship together with him that they weren’t even looking at themselves. They weren’t nit-picking their own flaws, failures, or differences. Their eyes were fixed on God alone.
See, the purpose of marriage is not just to be happy, to be fulfilled by another person, or even to be in love. Those feelings may come and go depending on circumstances.
Instead, the highest aim and the most satisfying goal of marriage is Unity. Oneness.
Watch professional ballroom dancers or professional football teams at work; each one bringing their unique skill and personality to the table. Each individual lays aside ego, selfishness and insecurities to accomplish a greater goal together. We are often moved to tears when humanity moves as one to achieve something that could not be achieved alone. We are moved by this because it reflects the very nature of God. It reflects the reason we were made.
Marriage is meant to be a glimpse into the total oneness and unity God longs for with His Bride, the Church. This is the greater purpose for our marriage that glues us together through good times and bad. We fight in our marriage - not to have all our needs met - but for oneness. To come together for a purpose greater than ourselves. To use our individual gifts, perspectives, abilities, and personalities as a unified team to demonstrate God’s unconditional love to the world.
Don’t get me wrong. God wants you to have fun and enjoy a romantic relationship with your spouse. He made sex and laughter and intimacy and friendship for us to enjoy life together. But we only come to experience those things for real when we first let God be the source of all of our needs. For marriage to be truly fulfilling, we need to re-set our purpose for marriage to pursue oneness with each other and reflect God’s unified nature to the world. His purpose ultimately brings more satisfaction than any human love can bring on its own.