What is Marriage? – Considering Marriage Part 1
WHAT IS MARRIAGE?
God designed and ordained marriage in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world. In this setting, He stated, “.. . It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen. 2:18) In the marriage relationship, the man is to “leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) This marital union creates a foundation for companionship, procreation, healthy sexual fulfillment, and an opportunity for help. This article is meant to be a practical look at the marriage decision process. We seek to discuss what it means to pursue “marriage by faith.” In the context of this article, we will use this term to mean a marriage decision in which, through faith and applying the principles of His Word, the Lord and His direction is sought first and foremost (Matt. 6:33). As we discuss this topic, it is important to begin by reviewing a few key principles.
What are Core Biblical Principles Regarding Marriage?
It is good to start by reaffirming some foundational biblical principles about marriage. Too often, societal influence can erode our core understanding of marriage and alter our standards. The Bible states:
- Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. Mat. 19:4-6, “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
- Christian marriage is to be between two Christians. 2 Cor. 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
- God designed the marriage covenant to be a lifelong commitment. Mark 10:9, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
- God designed marriage to reflect the union of Christ and the Church. Eph. 5:31-32, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
Establishing a Healthy Identity in Christ
It is also critical to understand marriage should not be viewed as a solution to a problem of discontentment or to create a feeling of “completeness.” It is easy to fall into a trap of “If only…” thinking where we place our contentment hostage to a condition (like marriage) being fulfilled. It is not wrong to desire companionship and other potential benefits of marriage. One can be content and still have healthy desires and goals for life. However, a pattern of lacking contentment in life will not stop with a marriage relationship. It is important to reflect on whether or not we are seeking marriage in order to get out of an undesired situation or feel more complete, or if we are dwelling in a state of contentment and still sense the nudge of the Holy Spirit toward marriage.
Some common misconceptions regarding marriage are illustrated in the diagram at right. We can have the view that in marriage “two will become one” and lose their identity within this union (top line of the diagram). This is not completely accurate. Another faulty view is that a half of a person should seek another person who can make them complete (second line of the diagram). This can be a recipe for conflict and unmet expectations. After the initial bliss of finding the other half or soulmate, they find out they married someone who is not able to fulfill the fantasy image they projected on the other person. Both become disappointed. “If you try to find intimacy with another person before achieving a sense of identity on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself.i” God’s design for marriage is actually for one whole person to marry another whole person (third line of the diagram). It is critical to realize a ‘whole’ person is not a perfect person. However, a single person should establish a firm foundation by focusing on being complete in Christ first and foremost and not looking to other singles to find the person or people who will complete them. This mindset can lead to unhealthy relationships with other singles, delay growth in Christ, and create difficulty in marriage.
Col. 2:10, “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”
To view the complete PDF of The Marriage Decision, click here.
i Les and Leslie Parrott, Relationships: How to Make Bad Relationships Better and Good Relationships Great. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), commitment with eyes of faith.
For Further Information:
The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry, But Why?
Author: Gary Thomas
In this 224-page book, the author helps single people of all ages make wise marital choices by rethinking what basis those choices should be made on. You will be encouraged to think beyond finding your ‘soul mate’ and instead adopt a more biblical search for a ‘sole mate’ –someone who will walk with you on your spiritual journey. Thomas asks, “What if we focused on why we should get married more than on who to marry? What if being ‘in love’ isn’t a good enough reason to get married?” And most of all, what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? The Sacred Search casts a vision for building a relationship around shared spiritual mission.