“Marriage is meant by God to put that gospel reality on display in the world. That is why we are married. That is why all married people are married, even when they don’t know and embrace this gospel.”
~ John Piper
“31”Therefore a man shall leave his Father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. ”
Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV
Why does marriage exist?
It seems like a silly question but one that must be answered in order to understand the purpose of marriage. The answer to this question is the basis for all creation.
Likewise, all Christ followers must understand why they and everything exist. To answer this question, I turn to how I have been teaching my children.
Every night, Melissa and I do a family Bible time with our children before they go to bed. We pray together, read the Bible, discuss what we read, sing praise songs, and then pray again. We also go through the children’s catechism.
The catechism is nothing more than a set of questions and answers. It is a summary of the principles of Christian beliefs in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians. The first five questions answer everything, including the meaning of life.
Q. 1. Who made you?
Q. 2. What else did God make?
A. God made all things.
Q. 3. Why did God make you and all things?
A. For His own glory.
Q. 4. How can you glorify God?
A. By loving Him and doing what He commands.
Q. 5. Why ought you to glorify God?
A. Because He made me and takes care of me.
Ultimately, like all things in creation, marriage exists for God’s glory. Everything points to the Lord who is the creator much like a painting points to the painter who created it. With all creation, unlike a painting, the created has the ability, or its own will, to reject the creator.
The marriage unit also has the ability to reject the Father and His plan for how the marriage should be. As with all creation, when it follows the creators design, blessings abound. If a painting is used as a rug, it ceases to be a valuable painting because it is being used in an improper way.
Likewise, when a marriage is used in an improper way, its value lessens and does not bless the creation.
There are Three Main Purposes to Marriage.
- Picture of God and His People (Israel)
- Picture of Christ and His Church
“19And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”
Hosea 2:19-20 ESV
Marriage is a reflection of the relationship between God and His people and Christ and His church. Since the fall of man, God desires to reconcile Himself to His creation.
From Adam and Eve in the garden through the end of time, God will always seek to reconcile Himself with His people.
The Lord never desired to be separated from His creation. Adam and Eve were meant to walk with God for all eternity. Because of the fall, man was separated from God with Jesus Christ being the only way of reconciliation.
What God desires from all humans is for them to love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).
The way to do this is explained in the Psalms.
3Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Psalm 37:3-6 ESV
As God’s people follow this Psalm, they are walking in the ways of the Lord and He will bless his people because they are delighting themselves in the Lord. When God’s people turn away from Him, they are like a bride running away from her loving husband who wants to bless her.
The Israelites, because of their sinful nature, continuously turn away from the Lord to other gods who were not the one true God. (Jeremiah 2:9-13).
You see signs of this one-way marriage relationship between God and his people throughout the entire Old Testament.
From the Israelites having Aaron make a golden calf while Moses (Exodus 32:7-9) was on Mount Sinai talking with the Lord, to the Lord speaking through Malachi saying that His people have turned aside from His statutes and are robbing him of His tithes and contributions.
“7And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'” 9And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.”
Exodus 32:7-9 ESV
To illustrate the relationship of the Lord and His people, God uses a man named Hosea and a prostitute named Gomer. This is a heart-wrenching story of how the Lord has His Prophet marry a prostitute who continually turns away from him to search after her lovers.
Even though Gomer is continuously unfaithful to Hosea, he continually pursues her. The book of Hosea is all about this relationship and illustrates how hard hearted the Israelites were towards the Lord their God.
We don’t see much of who Hosea or Gomer were before they were used by God to display this marriage but what we do see is that Hosea was the Lord’s prophet and Gomer was a prostitute. The Lord tells Hosea to take himself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom with her.
The reason why the Lord chooses a prostitute is because the Israelites commit great whoredom by forsaking the Lord and going after other gods.
“2When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”
After their marriage Hosea and Gomer have three children whose names are very symbolic. The Lord gives each child a specific name in a specific order.
The first child’s name is Jezreel. The Lord gave him this name because he is going to punish the house of Jacob for all the bloodshed of Jehu in Jezreel (2 Kings 10:1-11).
The second child was a daughter the Lord named No Mercy because the Lord will have no more mercy on the house of Israel or forgive them at all.
Lastly, the Lord names their third child Not My People declaring that Israel is not His people any more.
“Rejoice not, O Israel!
Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.
You have loved a prostitute’s wages
on all threshing floors.”
Once her children have been weaned, Gomer returns to her prostitution and becomes unfaithful to Hosea just like people of Israel when they prostituted themselves to other gods forsaking the Lord.
The Lord has very strong words with the three children to plead to her mother to turn away from her prostitution, adultery, and whoring.
Gomer (Israel) has gone after many lovers who she believes will give her food and clothing and special things.
The Lord will cause her to be stripped naked and have His blessings removed from her because she has acted shamefully. The Lord causes hedges and walls around her so she will not be able to pursue her lovers (Hosea 2:2-6)
Gomer pursued her lovers until she comes to the realization that even though she pursues them, she will never be able to find them and keep them. The more she runs after her lovers the more they flee from her. After she comes to the realization she will never attain her lovers, she realizes life is worse now than when she was with Hosea. He treated her with love, cherished her, nourished her, and remained faithful to her even though she was unfaithful. No matter what she did in her unfaithfulness, she was not fulfilled like she was when she was with her first husband (Hosea 2:2-7).
Hosea 2:8-11 shows a very interesting and perplexing picture of how God treats His people who turn away to other Gods just like Gomer turned away from her husband to other lovers.
“And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
9Therefore I will take back
my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season,
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
which were to cover her nakedness.”
It was Hosea who provided for Gomer when she was chasing after her lovers. He, like the Lord, provided food, clothing, money and other things she needed to live, even when she pursued her lovers.
Why did Hosea do this for her? First, because the Lord called him to, and second, he loved her. Love is an action that one does on behalf of the object of its affection.
Just like the Lord loved His people so much that He provided for their needs as they were going after other gods, Hosea loved Gomer by providing for the needs of His bride even though she was unfaithful.
The marriage of Hosea and Gomer is the relationship of God and His people Israel. This is the first purpose of marriage.
The second purpose of marriage is to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His Bride the Church. Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church is His Bride.
The Meaning of Marriage
“As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two.”
~ Thomas Adam
Why should we use the Bible as a means to understand how to have a successful marriage? This is a question that needs to be fully addressed. First, I can attest to the wisdom and understanding received from the Bible and how it has transformed my marriage.
The Bible has also blessed many other marriages my wife and I have had the blessing to counsel. Second, all humans are created by a Creator, and created for a purpose. His method of communicating to us is through the Bible and prayer.
Many people throughout the centuries have asked the question, “What is the meaning of life?” The answer to that question is simple if you have the understanding that you, and I, were created by an infinite Creator for His own purpose. At the end of Ecclesiastes, the book of wisdom, we learn from the wisest man who ever lived,
King Solomon, what the meaning of life is. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says “the end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is a whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” The meaning and purpose of life is to glorify God. We glorify God by fearing Him and keeping His commandments.
Let’s say that you took a pottery class to learn how to make things out of clay.
You, being the creator of the pot, first need to decide what it is you want to make. In order to do that, you first figure out the purpose of your creation and start from there. If your goal is to create something that is able to hold water, then you would make a pot that has the ability to hold water.
You wouldn’t create a round ball because it is incapable of holding water. Likewise, if you desire to create an interesting piece of artwork that is to sit on a table for people to look at and discuss, then you make something that is very creative and maybe abstract.
There is always a purpose behind every creation whatever it might be. Since the Bible tells us that God the Father is the Potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 29:15-16 & Romans 9:19-20), he has made us with a purpose in mind.
Likewise, God the Father created marriage for a purpose. He designed it in a way that would best fit his creation.
So, what does this have to do with marriage? Well, the same God that created you for a purpose, to glorify him, created the institution of marriage and blessed the human race with it.
He created man in His image and likeness and then created woman from man. Each were created for a purpose and each have a role they were designed to be responsible for. In order to understand God’s design for marriage, we need to understand the designer Himself.
There are two places in the Bible that says “in the beginning”. The first time is in Genesis 1 where the Bible says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1 goes on to explain how God created all things and in Him all things were created.
The second time is in John 1 where it also says “In the beginning” but brings more insight into, not creation, but the person of God. John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
What is the Word? It is the Bible in its entirety. God’s Word (Bible) existed before time even existed and was with God at creation. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus states “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.” And Proverbs 30:5 says “Every Word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him
Again, what does this have to do with marriage?
Let’s put it all together.
- Jesus was with the Father in the beginning when he created everything
- Jesus (who is God) is the Word of God made flesh and dwelt among us
- God created man in his image and likeness
- God created woman from man
- God joined the man and the woman together in the institution He created called marriage
- Every part of creation has its own role
- The Word of God is our way to understand His design for marriage
- God explains how a successful marriage should operate because he created it
When we follow the Creators’ design for marriage, we are the most useful for His glory.
What is even more interesting is that there are so many more references, symbolisms, and direct scripture on marriage.
In this site, we will look at how God designed marriage to be a blessing to those who live their lives by the Bibles principles for marriage.
You will learn how to transform your marriage so it can be blessed by God as you begin building it on the Word of God.
What is intended to be, or actually is, expressed or indicated; signification; import:
As we look at the meaning of marriage, the definition of meaning helps us to understand what we are looking for and what marriage was intended to be from the beginning of creation.
When God created marriage, He had a reason for doing it. The meaning of marriage is a man and woman uniting together in marriage to become one flesh in a covenant relationship with God.
God intended marriage to be a blessing to those in marriage as well as a way for married couples to glorify Him in their union. Since God created marriage and instructed man and woman on what roles they would play in this institution, we need to look at God’s Word to see what His intent or expressed desire is.
When we follow Gods plan we accomplish the goal and reflect a perfect picture of what marriage means.
In order to fulfill the meaning of marriage as God intended, the husband and wife must fulfill their roles as the Lord designed for them. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His church and gave Himself up for her.
“25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV
A Godly husband is to lead his wife in the way of righteousness and is to love her as he loves himself. As the husband does this and walks in love toward his bride, she feels nourished, cherished, and blessed by him.
Just as the church is sanctified (to be set apart unto Himself and made holy) by Jesus Christ, husbands are to sanctify their wives with love and righteousness.
The Husband’s desire must be to set his bride a part from all other women purifying her and turning her into a spotless bride. He does this by reading the Bible to her washing her with its words.
As she hears these words, the Lord cleanses her and the Word penetrates deep into her to change her to be a holy, blameless, and spotless bride. Wives are to submit to their own husbands as unto the Lord and to be his helpmate.
“22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”
Ephesians 5:22-23 ESV
A Godly wife is to follow her husband into the way of righteousness and is to submit to him as fitting in the Lord. As the wife walks in respect for her husband, she is building in him a sense of nourishment he cannot get anywhere else. God designed men with the desire to be respected and honored.
When a wife honors and respects her husband, he is blessed and encouraged to continue in the way of righteousness.
These different roles husbands and wives are to play in their marriage is designed to be a blessing, not a curse.
The Apostle Paul explained how husbands and wives can build and strengthen their marriages.
“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 ESV.
As the husband fulfills his role to love his wife, he helps her to have a desire to return the favor. Likewise, when the wife respects her husband, she helps him to have a desire to love her in return.
Before we go any further into the topic of the submission, it may be wise to address the “elephant in the room” in regards to the husband being the head over the wife and her submitting to him. Some women may feel upset or even mad when they hear the husband is the head of the wife.
You may even cringe when you hear someone say, as the apostle Paul does in Ephesians 5:24, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Or you could also feel uncomfortable when Peter says in 1 Peter 3:7 “husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since their heirs with you of the grace of life so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Ask yourself “Why is that?” Why do the terms submit and weakness fill you with anxiousness or animosity? Could it be that some past experience has caused you to have an issue with submission or someone having authority over you?
Whatever the case may be, you have those feelings and you are more than likely justified for having those because that’s the way you feel. We will dive more heavily into these thoughts and much more in the coming chapters.
If you and your spouse allow it, marriage can go in a negative direction. This happens when either spouse does not follow their God given roles in their marriage.
When a husband is not respected by his wife, he feels rejected and even attacked. Those feelings build up a resentment in him that will lead his heart away from his wife and possibly to something or someone else.
If you ask any man if they would rather be loved or respected, the vast majority of men would choose being respected over being loved. That is because God wired them that way. When a husband does not get respect from his wife, it is as if she is saying he is no good as a man and she does not need him.
If a wife does not fulfill these desires of respect for her husbands, he may look to fulfill those desires outside of his marriage with another woman.
When a wife does not receive love from her husband, she feels unloved, unwanted, and undesirable. Wives want to be desired by their husbands. They desire their husbands to pursue them. They are built with an innate longing for their husbands to nourish, cherish, and love them. A husband who does these things for his wife fulfills her desires as a woman.
God wired wives to desire love from their husbands as a way for them to be connected and united. When a wife does not receive love from her husband, she may look to fulfill those desires outside of her marriage with another man.
Each marriage is different and each person is different and fulfilling these longings for love and respect in each other can be done in many different ways.
Throughout this site, we will look at how each of us can fulfill our roles and bless our spouse by fulfilling the desires of love and respect in each other.
There is an old saying about love and relationships, “opposites attract”. The reason this saying exists is because it is true. God designed men and women differently and that difference attracts us to each other. Likewise, God designed everyone to have different personalities, traits, styles, and characteristics. Isn’t it interesting how different your spouse is from you?
Think back to when you first met your spouse.
Wasn’t it an exciting time for the both of you? Now think about what character traits that attracted you to your spouse. More than likely, your spouse had many opposite characteristics than you had.
Your relationship with your spouse may not be that drastically different, but more than likely, there are differences between the two of you. A husband may be a go-getter, that is passionate about everything, and driven to conquer the world.
His wife may be a go-with-the-flow, relaxed, and compassionate person who enjoys quality time with her friends and loved ones. Another couple could have personalities where the wife is a very outgoing social butterfly who loves to be the center of attention while talking with everyone she sees.
The husband could be an introverted thinker who is deep and thoughtful and feels like a fish out of water at parties.
While God designed you to be an individual, you by yourself are only part of the whole. That whole is God’s original design to be completed in marriage.
Biblically, when a man and a woman become one flesh in marriage, they become the complete image of God. To understand this concept, we need to look back at creation in the book of Genesis.
“26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:26-27 ESV
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them. When God made man, the Bible shows us that God made one man (Adam) in His image and likeness. When the Bible uses the words “us” and “our” it is referring to all three persons in the Triune God.
Not just the image and likeness of God the Father, but also of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
When the Bible says the “image and likeness” it’s not just talking about how Adam physically looked but also his characteristics, personality, traits, etc.
After the creation of Adam, the Lord saw a problem because Adam was alone. All the animals God created had a mate but Adam did not and was alone. The Lord said that it was not good for man to be alone so the Lord created a helper for him.
Now God could have created Eve in any way he wanted. He could have created Eve exactly the same way He created Adam (Genesis 2:7), from the dust of the earth and breathe life into her nostrils making her a living creature.
But He didn’t.
God created everything, from the ground that He created. He created every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens from the ground. If God created Adam and everything else from the dust of the ground, one could suppose that God would have made Eve in the same fashion, from the ground.
God did not create Eve the way He created the rest of creation. What God did was so intentional and deliberate that we cannot overlook it.
God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and took one of Adams ribs and made Eve from that rib.
Other translations have other words for “made”. Made can be translated into: formed, built, or fashioned. This shows intentional design from the Lord in His creation. The fact that He took from Adam’s body to create Eve shows us great insight into why we become one flesh in marriage.
Since man is the image of God, and God took a part of that image out of man to create woman, the image of God is now separated into two beings. Adam is now half of the image of God and Eve has become the other half of the image of God.
Since the one being was split in two, half of the characteristics, personality, and traits, are in Adam, and half are in Eve. Here is where we see the deliberate nature of God in marriage. Genesis 2:24 says the man and the woman shall become one flesh being joined together by God.
God separated the image of God (Adam) when He created Eve, and now the image of God is brought back together when man and woman are married.
Remember Jesus’s words in Mark 10:9 when he says that God joins man and woman together in marriage. So it is God who separated them and then joins them back together in marriage.
This illustrates how marriage between a husband and wife completes the image of God that was separated from the creation of Eve.
All those differences that you see between you and your spouse now become more special because your spouse completes you as the image of God. In your marriage, you may begin to see how God brought you and your spouse together to form the complete image of God.
Marriage between a husband and wife is the complete and whole image of God. Hopefully this gives you a new appreciation for your spouse and the institution of marriage.
No matter who it is that you married, you are now joined together as man and wife and that marriage is the complete image of God. It is a gift that God has blessed you with.