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The Purpose of Marriage (1)

The purpose of marriage is the glory of God. This is crucial for a couple to understand in order that they enter into marriage with the right perspective. Marriage is not about me and not about you. Marriage is about God.
Reformed churches since the time of the Synod of Dordt in 1618–19 adopted a form to be read during the marriage ceremony. This form outlines three reasons why God has instituted the bond of marriage. “First, that each faithfully assist the other in all things that belong to this life and a better.”
It is very striking that the first reason has to do with God’s covenant. The foundation of marriage is covenantal—living in a relationship of friendship and assisting one another in that bond. Our triune God is a covenant making and keeping God. He has chosen marriage as a picture of the covenant that he has established with his people in Jesus Christ.
A marriage covenant of unity, understanding, and love is not rooted in romance but in worship of this great God. Romance is the result of a good marriage. The cause of that marriage is the fact that God has taken two sinners and joined them to Christ and given them fellowship in the cross. God takes selfish sinners and gives them new hearts and lives so that they live for him and for the neighbor. The only solid foundation of marriage is the love of God in Jesus Christ. Where that love is present in each individual, their bond is a living union that will bring glory to God.
As soon as you lose sight of God and begin focusing on yourself, you will experience problems. And, those problems are not the fault of your spouse. You need to admit that you are the biggest problem to your marriage. Your selfishness rises up and you become self-absorbed and self-focused. Sin is anti-social. Sin is anti-covenant. Sin causes me to seek the good of my spouse no longer, but to seek to use him or her as my vehicle to make me happy and to get what I want.
This life will never be about you. The whole of life is a celebration of Another.
God calls you wives to seek the spiritual well-being of your husband by helping him be the most godly man he can be for God’s glory. As husbands, we seek the good of our wives, that they might be the most godly women they can be. God’s glory is the focus of our marriage covenant.
“Second, that they bring up the children which the Lord shall give them, in the true knowledge and fear of God, to His glory, and their salvation.”
God created marriage for the purpose of establishing his covenant in the way of procreation. Genesis 1:28 is the word of God to Adam and Eve who had just been joined in marriage by God and to whom God had given the sexual relationship: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This command of God was repeated several times in Genesis 9:1 and Genesis 35:11. In Matthew 19:1–9, Jesus admonishes the wicked Pharisees to go back to the beginning for their instruction regarding marriage and divorce. The same admonition applies to the purposes of God regarding marriage. Bringing forth children and raising them in the fear of God is the will of God for married couples. Those who have no desire for children ought not to marry. Those young men who are not prepared to support a family ought not marry. Young women who have their hearts set on a career ought not marry. They try to separate the sexual pleasures of marriage from the calling to bear children, separating what God has joined together. Such is sin against the God of marriage.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me,” said Christ in Mark 10! Do not keep them from Christ! Allow the little ones to come! The disciples held the children at a distance. We live in a day when Christians seek to keep children from Jesus in terms of keeping them from even being born! They don’t want children to bring to Jesus. They don’t live in the consciousness of God’s command to be fruitful nor in the marvelous blessing of covenant children. Don’t abort them! Don’t try to avoid having them! Don’t keep them from Jesus once they are born! Present them for baptism and raise them in the fear of God.
The people of the world enter into marriage for selfish reasons. God is not in their thoughts. Marriage and children are for their own pleasure.
It is difficult to have a large family. There is tremendous cross-bearing required of both the husband and the wife. There are many tears and sorrows and challenges. The mother must give up her life for the sake of her husband and children. The husband must give up his desires for the sake of his wife and children. God blesses them, not in the way of removing the struggles, but in the way of giving grace to bear those struggles, and knowing peace with God’s will. God gives that blessing in the way of prayer and submission to God’s will.
What is the solution for the believing wife? It is not in escaping this calling. It is not in seeking fulfillment outside of the home in other vocations. Contentment and happiness come only in the way of obedience and clinging to the grace and strength of Jesus Christ to bear the burden of motherhood. Though the Fall imposed painful aspects on the woman, God sanctifies childbearing in the church, so that through it, women are saved (1 Tim. 2:15). The sorrows and struggles of giving birth and raising sinful children are very real. For the redeemed woman, they are not a curse, but a chastisement God uses to sanctify and draw her closer to him. The answer is not the worldly wisdom of family planning. The answer is in Jesus Christ, our compassionate Savior whose grace is sufficient to bear all our burdens.
(To be continued)