When it comes to the issue of marriage, we are often so influenced by our culture, its wisdom and its clichés that we forget the biblical reasons to get married (or stay married), delay marriage or forgo marriage. I want to remind you of the biblical reasons for each. Keep in mind, if you are making a decision about marriage, my assumption is that you are a fairly mature Christian adult, in a decent position to get married (so teenagers need not apply). If you are not, please read on anyway and note the deep significance of marriage.
Reasons to get married
1. To obey God’s original command
God’s first command to both Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28) and since marriage is the only context in which to have children (biblically speaking), we should desire marriage for the purpose of being able to participate in this wonderful command. Marriage is a blessing because children are a blessing.
2. To have a partner in worship
God said that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18-25). Before the fall of mankind, every man on earth was called to have a helper found exclusively in a wife. God went out of his way to create the woman and a suitable helper for the man. Therefore every man should desire marriage in order to be blessed by a helper, one they can worship God with and enjoy creation with. Every woman should desire marriage to a godly man who will lead them spiritually and love them sacrificially in the Lord as they worship God together and enjoy creation together.
3. To display the gospel
Paul revealed in Ephesians that the purpose of the institution of marriage is to display the loving and sacrificial relationship between Christ and the church (Eph. 5:22-33). The spiritual reality is that Christ and the church are one. Christ and the church are married and in a life-giving union. Christ is the bridegroom; the church is the bride. Christ loved and sacrificed himself for his bride and for the union, a union that will be celebrated at the marriage supper of the lamb when Christ returns (Rev. 19:6-9). That’s what the gospel is all about. It’s about the work of Christ for the sake of our union with him to the glory of God. Marriage is an earthly reality that images or points to that heavenly reality. We should desire marriage to take part in displaying this spiritual reality.
4. To grow in sanctification
When Paul lists the qualifications of a church elder (1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9), he expects the men to be married, the men to be faithful in their marriage and the men to be faithful fathers of their children. This is not a coincidence. Paul is seeking mature Christian men and marriage goes hand-in-hand with maturity. In marriage, it takes spiritual maturity to love your wife and love your children with the love, grace and forgiveness of God. It takes maturity to submit to one another. In a marriage, temptation is constant, sins are exposed quickly, and repentance will be needed immediately. Marriage will demand much of you and you’ll only make it out alive with Christ as your center. Therefore, while marriage is not the only path to spiritual maturity and sanctification, it might be the fastest path for most people.
5. To live in purity
Paul lived a celibate lifestyle. He had control over his sexual desires and wasn’t ever seeking a spouse. The reason Paul did not get married is likely because his passions burned for something more urgent: the proclamation of the gospel. After all, the gospel presented a new purpose for the people of God: evangelism. This purpose doesn’t have to displace our longing for marriage. But it can. It did for Paul. But if you desire to marry someone, then Paul says to get married so that you do not give in to sexual temptation (1 Cor. 7:1-9). God created sex to be expressed and experienced in marriage. If you desire sex, then you should desire marriage to honor God with your body and your mind.
Remember, Christ is Ultimate
If you desire marriage for reasons other than and excluding what I’ve mentioned above, you are missing the point of marriage. If you do desire marriage and children for the right reasons but for whatever reason those good things do not come, well, let me just say that I feel your pain. I, too, long for marriage and it’s a real trial. Just know that none of what I am saying is meant to claim that marriage is ultimate. Only Christ is ultimate and our union with him is the greater reality that marriage points to. So as you long for marriage, long for Christ more. He is far more glorious and our union with him is deeper and lasts for all eternity.
Tomorrow I will offer the biblical reasons to delay marriage or not marry.