Is it necessary for a Christian to marry? What is the purpose of marriage? The Bible has a lot to say about this topic. Since the first marriage was between the first man and the first woman, it is assumed that marriage is God’s will for most people. It was instituted in the dispensation of innocence and is therefore a holy institution. The first reason that the Bible gives for the existence of marriage is simple: Adam was lonely and needed a helper (Genesis 2:18). This is the primary purpose of marriage—fellowship, companionship, and mutual help and comfort.
One purpose of marriage is to create a stable home in which children can grow and thrive. The best marriage is between two believers (2 Corinthians 6:14) who can produce godly offspring (Malachi 2:13–15). In Malachi, God tells the Israelites that He will not accept their offerings because they have been unfaithful to the wives of their youth. This shows how much God cares about marriage being kept intact. Not only that, but He tells them He was seeking “godly offspring.” This is a puzzling passage, and has been interpreted to mean a) that godly offspring are the purpose of marriage; b) that a good marriage between two godly people will mean that any children they have will tend to be godly as well; c) God wanted the Israelites to be faithful to their wives instead of leaving them for foreign women who would produce for them ungodly offspring because of the idolatry of those nations; and d) that God Himself was seeking His own offspring (the people) to exhibit godliness by their faithfulness. In any of these interpretations, we see a common theme: the children of faithful people will tend to be faithful, too.
Not only does marriage teach children how to be faithful and give them a stable environment in which to learn and grow, it has a sanctifying effect on both marriage partners when they submit to God’s law (Ephesians 5). Every marriage has difficult moments or difficult dynamics. When two sinful people are trying to create a life together, they must submit to God’s command to love each another as God has loved us—selflessly (1 John 3:16). Our attempts to follow God’s commands in our own strength tend to end in failure, and that failure tends to make the believer more aware of his dependence on God and more open to the Spirit’s work in him, which tends to result in godliness. And godliness helps us to follow God’s commands. So, marriage is very helpful for the one trying to live a godly life; it helps to scrub the heart clean of selfishness and other impurities.
Marriage also protects individuals from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2). The world we live in is full of sexual images, innuendo, and temptation. Even if a person doesn’t pursue sexual sin, it pursues him or her, and it is very hard to escape it. Marriage provides a healthy place to express sexuality, without opening oneself up to the severe emotional (and many times physical) damage that is caused by casual, non-committed sexual relationships. It is clear that God created marriage for our good (Proverbs 18:22), to make us happy, to promote a healthier society, and to produce holiness in our lives.
Finally, marriage is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. The body of believers that make up the Church are collectively called bride of Christ. As Bridegroom, Jesus gave His life for His bride, “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:25–26), and His selfless act provides an example for all husbands. At the second coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official “wedding ceremony” will take place, and with it the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized (Revelation 19:7–9; 21:1–2).