Biblical Purpose of Marriage
From your Pastor...
....An Open Letter to First Baptist
There has been quite a social stir created by the Supreme Court’s decision regarding DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act). The Court basically threw out much of the statute which had defined “marriage” as a union between a man and a woman. It also allows states the option of offering legal status as “married” to same-sex couples.
I would like to offer you some guidance from Scripture and its application that can, hopefully, help you through these confusing times.
FIRST - let me say the obvious. It is the BIBLE alone which defines marriage. And there is nothing the Supreme Court can do, and there is nothing the Congress can do, and there is nothing the President can do that changes the biblical presentation. As Christians, our first devotion is ALWAYS to the teaching of Holy Scripture. If that teaching conflicts with the laws of the state then I suggest our response be like that of Peter and John who, when warned by the ruling Sanhedrin to stop preaching and teaching about Jesus said this: Do you think that God wants us to obey you rather than Him? We cannot stop telling the wonderful things we have seen and heard...(ACTS 4:19-20).
So what is the biblical presentation of marriage? I’ll quickly look at three passages.
I What God Created as a Marriage
Genesis 2:23-24 “At last!” Adam exclaimed. “She is part of my own flesh and bone! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken out of a man. This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united as one.”
Genesis 2 tells us the story of the first man, Adam, and Adam’s need for companionship. Human beings are, at our very core, relational creatures. We are relational like our Creator is relational. God placed the man in Eden and commissioned him as Eden’s caretaker. And then we come to this very telling verse: The LORD, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him” (2:18).
How did the LORD address Adam’s need for companionship? He brought to Adam every creature he had made. One by one, all of the animals were brought before Adam and Adam gave them names. But the Scriptures say, “But still, there was no companion suitable for him” (2:20).
So what was the point of this parade? Only this: that God had a perfect companion in mind for Adam. That perfect companion wasn’t to be found in all the world. Indeed, God, Himself, took the responsibility to make this perfect companion for the man. And who did God make as this perfect companion? A WOMAN.
LOOK CAREFULLY! The perfect companion wasn’t among the animals. The perfect companion was not another man. Yes, men need good, healthy relationships with other men as friends, accountability partners for righteousness, warriors for the good and even as competitors, but not as spouses. No! The God-created person specifically designed for such a role was not another man, it was a WOMAN.
THINK ABOUT IT! This is a critical presentation of Scripture. If God had wanted to show us all that men could be married to men and women to women, this would’ve been the moment to reveal those intentions. Ah, but God did reveal his intentions. God intends for men to marry women. The woman was created by God to be his marriage partner. She is the only one who can fulfill his needs (and he for her) emotionally, physically, and spiritually. That is what God’s Word means when it says, The two of them shall become one...
II God’s purpose for the man and woman is godly children.
Malachi 2:15 Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are one with her and you both are one with the LORD. And what does God want from your marriage? Godly children. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.
A key purpose in marriage as designed by God is that fathers and mothers raise children of faith. Statistics show that about 80% of all people who will ever confess Christ as their Savior will do so by their 20th birthday. If a person hasn’t made their confession of faith in Christ by then, the probabilities that they will ever do so drop dramatically. The most important investment any father or mother can make in the lives of their children is the one that involves eternity. Christian fathers and mothers are commissioned by God to lead their children to faith in Christ.
The Christian home is the greatest opportunity for evangelism - for winning souls to Christ - that the world will ever know. This is God’s plan: Godly fathers and mothers who share their hearts, their faith, their love for God through Christ in their own families in such a way that their children quite naturally come to confess saving faith in Christ, too.
Is it any wonder, then, that the great enemy of God, the devil himself, whose expressed purpose is to steal, kill and destroy all things godly (John 10:10), attacks us first and foremost and with as much malice as he can muster in the home. Why? Because he knows if he can destroy the home as God intended the home to be, he will thwart millions from turning to God through Christ, and he can wound their hearts in the process with harms they will carry for a lifetime.
John Eldredge, writing in his book, Waking the Dead, and discussing the horrible ways in which Joseph’s brothers harmed him and sold him in to slavery, said this about the attacks that happen at home:
“Joseph’s story is a common one, I’m sorry to say. The worst blows to our hearts usually come from family. That’s where we start the journey of the heart, and that’s where we are most vulnerable. What we learn from our parents and siblings about the value of the heart defines us for the rest of our days; it becomes the script we live out, for good or for evil.”
Waking the Dead, 115.
Our enemy knows this! So this devil strikes at us in the home. He attacks the family. And he has so engaged this strategy and has experienced so much success that the modern family in America typically bears little resemblance to the blessed designs and expressed purposes of its Creator. The results are not pretty. Families suffer in immeasurable ways. They become dysfunctional. Attacks are made. Wounds received. Break-ups happen. Children are neglected or are used as pawns in the power struggles of their parents. Lawsuits are filed. Character assassinations begin. Hurts that are deep and powerful and last a lifetime are seeded in the heart never to heal. In the midst of the chaos he created, the enemy speaks his lies. “If we could just stop the fighting, if we just love each other and get along, then everything will be alright. And it doesn’t matter,” the Father of Lies hisses, “if the one you love is another woman like you, or another man like you, as long as the fighting stops and everybody just loves each other.”
And this Lie of Lies - that men can be married to men and women to women - has now become the culture’s rally cry. Its message is found everywhere from President Obama, who has made it clear he believes men can and should marry other men and women other women if they want to, to the media, who certainly encourages “gay marriage” through books and magazines and movies and TV. Indeed, there is hardly anywhere a person can go in today’s America where the message of pro-gay marriage isn’t trumpeted loudly. And the old adage is true - “Tell a person anything enough times and they will eventually come to believe it.”
But know this, as the family becomes less and less the Sanctuary God intended for the purpose of raising Godly children, the numbers of those confessing Christ as Savior fall. When that happens the country in which they have resided, which has enjoyed the great blessings of God and benefits of a distinctively Christian society, will watch itself slide into moral confusion and chaos in which its institutions and values are trampled upon and eventually replaced by the new matrix. It is happening this very day. And it is happening by design: The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. And his target is the Home. He wants to destroy godly homes. And what better way to do it than to change the very way we think about what family means, and to change how we even define the word “marriage” so that it is now something that is completely the opposite of what God designed.
III God’s purpose for the husband and wife is to reflect God’s purpose for Christ and the Church.
Ephesians 5:24-26 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything. And you husbands must love your wives with the same love that Christ showed the church. He gave his life for her, to make her holy and clean...
Christian marriages are to be a mirror of Christ’s relationship with the Church. The Church has a Head for its union; that is Christ. The Home has a head for its union; the husband. As the Church does all it can do to glorify its Head and therefore draw all men to the Savior, so the wife does all she can do to glorify God as she glorifies her husband and her home. With her submission to the purposes and designs of God for her marriage, it is God who receives the glory and again, people are drawn to him.
The husband’s role is likened to Christ’s love for the church. How did he express that love? First, he gave his life for the church. Yes, the sacrifice of the Savior is one he demands husbands emulate. A husband’s love for his wife is expressed even to the point of the sacrifice of his own life, his wants, his desires and wishes, for those of his wife. When a watching world sees this kind of love expressed from a godly, Christian husband for his wife and family, they will take notice, and they will be attracted to its beauty.
The husband is also to love his wife for the purpose of her holiness. He loves her like Christ loved the church so that, “he may present her to himself as a glorious church, without any spot, or wrinkle, or blemish. Instead, she shall be holy and without fault (Eph. 5:27). This means that the primary purpose of a husband’s love for his wife, or the primary way in which his love is expressed, is that he leads her to pursue the holiness and righteousness of God.
Again, the enemy of God has clouded and confused our thinking. Ask men what they believe their primary purpose is regarding their relationship with their wives and typically they will say things like: “I am the provider/bread winner for the household,” or “I am to be her protector,” or other things like that. Subscribing to this kind of thinking, then, a man could believe that he is “doing right by his wife” to provide things like a fine home, a fancy car and wardrobe, gourmet food to eat, but all the while totally neglecting her spiritual needs. Indeed, many women attend church with everyone in their families except their husbands. Godly husbands are to do more.
Ephesians 5 makes it clear that a husband should care first and foremost for his wife’s spiritual condition. It must be more important than the acquisition of wealth and things, more important than one’s career, more important than one’s own self. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife (v.28) and cares primarily about her spiritually. That means husbands lead their wives/families to church; husbands lead their wives/families in prayer; that husbands lead their wives/families to know the Scriptures, to make wise and godly choices, to keep evil out of the home, etc. Sound like a daunting task? It is. In fact, it requires the giving of one’s life!
But when people see that kind of devotion in a Christian family, when they see that like of love, when they see that kind of goodness arising from this functioning, biblical family, again God receives the glory and people are drawn to him.
Marriage by definition - Words mean things. If you don’t believe it, climb aboard an airplane and use the word “bomb.” Watch what happens. Call your friend to bail you out of jail.
We all know what is meant by the word “bomb.” It is an explosive device for the purpose of breaking things and killing people. Bombs take various shapes and sizes. They have differing compositions. But a bomb is a bomb - period.
Likewise, by definition, an apple is an apple. We immediately recognize that an apple is not a banana. If someone holds up a banana and says, “This is an apple,” we will try to correct them. By definition, an apple is not a banana. It is a fruit like a banana, but it is not a banana.
So, too, marriage has a definition. Marriage is a monogamous, life-long relationship between and man and a woman. That is consistent not only with the biblical presentation, but is how humanity has practiced and recognized marriage for millennia. If someone comes to me holding an apple and says, “For thousands of years this fruit has been known as an apple, but from now on it will be known as a banana,” I wouldn’t accept that. And neither should I. In the same way, if two men come to me and say, “We’re married just like you and your wife are married,” I have to say, “No! That is impossible by the very definition of the word, and it is equally impossible by physical, psychological and spiritual parameters: A man absolutely cannot have the same kind of relationship with another man that he can have with a woman.” Do I need to draw you a picture here?
You may say, “Well that’s just a matter of semantics.” Again, absolutely it is not. If the definition of “marriage” can be changed - or “evolved” as with Mr. Obama - or be expanded to include other relationships than the one which gave rise to its definition and usage (one man and one woman), then logically why would we stop at “gay marriage?” Once the meaning of the word marriage has been prostituted to include other relationships, then why shouldn’t, for example, a man be able to marry more than one other man? Why shouldn’t he be able to have multiple wives? Why shouldn’t he be able to marry his own daughter? Is this not the same kind of “evolutionary thinking” practiced by Mr. Obama when he fundamentally changed the meaning of the word “marriage” in his own mind? If the definition is up for grabs, how can we argue for any restraints at all? “Marriage” has a single, defined meaning, or it has no meaning at all.
People believe what they want to...
I heartily believe that every Christian should look long and hard at what he believes about God and Jesus and the Bible and the Church and the world around him. I have never preached a “blind faith” and I don’t accept it myself. My journey of faith has been a long one, and at times has been an exceedingly difficult one. But my faith has been informed. I have worked hard to know and understand the Scriptures, and to apply them to my worldview. Often times in this journey I have had my thinking and my heart challenged and changed by the preponderance of evidence in the biblical truth. It takes work, and often times it isn’t pleasant. It is the duty of the “workman...” Study to show yourself approved of God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, and who correctly handles the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
In contrast the easy way to believe is NOT to have the workman’s ethic. The easy way, the lazy way, is to let others do your thinking for you. Even easier is to simply go along with wherever the popular/politically correct opinions lead. Most people, religious or secular, have given little to no thought as to what it is that forms their worldview. So if an idea is presented in a favorable way in the media, or if a president or other public figure says, “I like this,” then it gains traction because it is perceived to be a popular one. I believe it, not because I gave the idea any real scrutiny or subjected it to reasonable or logical thinking, I just LIKED it.
Unfortunately, when what we like conflicts with the teachings of Holy Scripture, too many times we just do what we want and throw away the Word of God. We are sinners in need of repentance and God’s grace. Then we become like the foolish man who built his house on the sand: When the rains and floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, it fell with a great crash, because it had been built on the sand (Matthew 7:24f).
My hope and prayer is that this letter and the Scriptures I have cited can help you build your house on the Rock.