Marriage: So What’s the Big Deal?
Marriage. It’s a hotly contested institution. But that’s really nothing new. Anything ordained by God has been contested by Satan and his willing partners throughout history.
I harken back to the late 60’s, when the women’s liberation movement took root. We saw the rise of activists like Gloria Steinem and actress Joan Fontaine proudly announcing that marriage was indeed “dead as the dodo bird”. Their mantra became “Women need men like fish need a bicycle.” It is ironic that just a few decades later, polygamists and homosexual advocates are now clamoring to get in on that same “dead” institution. The thing about Satan, he can never seem to keep his story straight. No pun intended.
Let’s go back further. During the the Roman Empire, soldiers were forbidden to marry. The institution was viewed as a hinderance to building their military. It is the real-life circumstances under which St. Valentine was martyred and from which we have the national holiday celebrated around the globe centuries later.
At the same time, the empire had implemented several different types of marriage for all the different classes and lifestyles of Roman citizens. So when the Apostle Paul began teaching about God’s definition of marriage, it was a culturally disruptive message. Marriage was to be between one man and one woman and to be binding until death, etc. The teachings in Paul’s letters to the Romans, Corinthians, and Ephesians meant drastic personal changes in the the lives of those Christians. And the culture around them was not eager to embrace those changes.
But, let’s go back even further to the fall of man. When Adam and Eve had disobeyed and God confronted them with what they had done. To shift blame from himself, Adam points the finger toward Eve. Eve then tries to blame the serpent. Completely willing to roll each other, as well as God’s plan for them, under the proverbial bus. That harmonious relationship was now fractured. Not only the relationship between God and man, but also the marital relationship between men and women.
God-ordained marriage has always been under attack. But why? What is so important about preserving the understanding of Biblical marriage? Could there be something more than just marriage itself at stake?
The world and everything in it was created by God for His purpose. All of creation is designed to help us understand who He is and his character. Marriage and the father, mother, child relationship mirrors that relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three are a relational, working, creating force. Marriage is meant to be living, harmonious, and exclusive. It is to be valued and cherished above all other relationships.
Just as in every generation before us, in steps Satan. He begins twisting what God has said, and his intention is always destruction. It is no different than when Eve looked at the fruit and set aside God’s instruction to instead pursue what appealed to her. We not only bite into this temptation ourselves, but we then try to entice others to join us. In the end, God’s Word always proves itself to be true.
God created marriage and gave it to us as a gift. Like any good creator would, He has included an instruction manual. He has warned us about the dangers of its misuse and using it outside of its intended purpose. The manual spells out both the purpose and benefits of using the “product” that has been gifted to us.
The individual, community, and societal benefits of Biblical marriage is undeniable. The benefits of a strong family unit are well-documented. There is also no denying families that have been destroyed, people who have died, and the pain and suffering caused by the dismantling of Biblical marriage and the nuclear family.
But to glean the benefits of marriage, we must first understand its purpose. In a culture that has largely become naive of our divine purpose, we easily confuse the two. We tend to think the benefit is the purpose. Security, happiness, prosperity, and cultural stability are certainly benefits. But they are not the purpose.
So what exactly is the purpose of marriage? The purpose of marriage: to point back to the Creator, Himself. To be a reflection to the world of the covenant relationship God wants with us. Out of this come immeasurable blessings, both physical and spiritual, for the individual as well as those around us. This is why it is essential we do not blur the lines, definition, or purpose of Biblical marriage. For in so doing, we blur the picture of Christ, His bride, and the eternal love relationship He longs to have with us.