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What is marriage? Is it just sparkling rings, a beautiful dress, a tuxedo, and a nice ceremony? Or is it a symbol of constant faithfulness and abiding love?

The world most likely would go with just the big expensive wedding ceremony. But we as Christians know that marriage is far more than just the ceremony. Marriage is a social institution between a man and a woman which is regulated by the Word of God, whereby two become one flesh.

What is the purpose of marriage? First and foremost, it is a means by which a husband and wife; not only show public commitment towards each other, but also show their unity in service to God. By no means is marriage a way to better serve our own self.

God gave Adam (man), Eve (woman) to serve as an help meet for him and likewise for her also is the man a helper. They were not to be each other’s possession. For man was not given woman to be her tyrant, but so that they may share in their different natures. Many men these days think that they are the tyrant of their house and family. But that is not what they should be. A tyrant is one who governs, controls, and regulates things in a manner, in some respect, of enslavement to others so that his way is the only way. How can two become in unity with their service to God if they cannot share ideas in the home?

Man can better show his service to God by his example of how he loves his wife. And vice versa, a woman a reverence her husband the same. For as Proverbs 18:22 states “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”

The wife’s calling in marriage and to her husband is best described in Titus 2:4, 5. “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.”

A couple’s purpose in marriage is also to help the church grow as well as the human race. This is based on God’s will in Genesis 1:27, 28 “…male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, …” The only purpose in marriage is not only to bear children, but also it is very important that they help the church to continue to grow. Without marriage it is not possible.

Through marriage we promise to live faithfully with our spouse. We also promise to live properly with them. To love, honor, and cherish them. These are promises to be continually made to your spouse. When it comes to promises a good example of how not to be, is the example of the “Promise Keepers.” The “Promise Keepers” make promises before other men who are not even of like faith. What can be achieved by that, when all promises must be carried out to God through faith; likewise in marriage.

Married persons should also realize that they must be there for each other at all times. That means work must be a means in which to support our families, not our wants. Therefore we should devote our time and energy to the family and the church while making work our secondary objection. This means that husband and wife should do as much as possible with each other and their family. And not always be hanging out with the “guys” or doing things with the “girls.”

Marriages today are on the decline along with the morality of our society. This is in relation to three main things: fornication, adultery, and divorce; all of which go hand in hand. People today seem to think only about themselves. And marriage appears to reflect only “puppy love.” Relationships are here today and gone tomorrow with no sincerity. What then is the meaning of the vows “to love, honor, and cherish, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, till death do us part.” A key word here is “death.” That means that marriage is a lifetime commitment.

As Christians we must stand apart from the world in our marriages and show our commitment towards one another. We can do this by our devotion to each other in marriage, and not be as the world! Scripture supports this in Hebrews 13:4 when it says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulters God will judge.” This is our comfort as we are ridiculed for our beliefs in marriage.

In conclusion, marriage is a symbol of Christ and His bride the church. Its purpose is to serve God and the church. The wedding ceremony is an expression of public commitment to one another and marks the beginning of a unified service to God. By no means is it a way of self-glorification for man. Marriage is an institution of God, not of man. Therefore as Prof. David Engelsma quotes, I Corinthians 7:39, in his book Marriage—The Mystery of Christ and the Church … that we ought to marry “only in the Lord.” ❖

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Jeff is a member of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, Michigan.

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