“Marriage is a sucker’s bet.” “If you get married, you will regret it within five years.” “Don’t do it; the man you marry won’t be the same man you bury, because they change over time.” Such gloomy statements abound in a jaded world filled with marriage skeptics, and many young people are dismayed by such naysaying. Some may even shy away from pursuing marriage. But all the above statements are bad advice. Marriage is just as valid today as it ever was (Hebrews 13:4).
The above cynical quotations are striking in their inherent selfishness. The advice they encapsulate would have merit only if marriage were intended solely to gratify one’s personal desires. But that is not the purpose of marriage.
The marriage vow is not a lifetime commitment to be loved or to receive love. Marriage is a vow to give love. It is a promise to give love for life. It is a determination to live for the benefit of the other, to stand by and behind the other. To give and give and give and give, and then give some more—even life itself.
Even more fundamentally, mankind did not invent marriage. God did. When God made humankind male and female and brought the first couple together in marriage, He had a purpose in mind. The most basic purpose was that marriage would produce more people who bear God’s name, reflect His image, and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26–28 and 2:22–24).
Further, to properly and fully reflect the image of God, mankind must be constituted of both men and women (Genesis 1:27). Male alone is not whole; neither is female. The proper reflection of God’s character in mankind requires both genders—man and woman united in marriage. Marriage is about much more than romantic bliss; it is about much more than the pleasure of sexual intercourse. The commitment of marriage is about fully reflecting God’s character, unity, and fellowship. This explains why the apostle Paul describes Christian marriage in such lofty spiritual terms as are found in Ephesians 5:22–33.
It is not in discovering the most beautiful model or the most dashing knight that a good marriage is found. It’s in recognizing God’s prepared choice of the most suitable life partner—the one most compatible with God’s purposes and objectives—that the most truly satisfying marriage is built. Romance surely has its place and will be enjoyed in a godly marriage, but only as a fruit of a much deeper, stronger relationship.
Yes, the honeymoon will end. Yes, both husband and wife will prove to be somewhat different from what they presented to each other while courting. Yes, sooner or later both spouses will be disappointed in something about one another. And, yes, trials will come, testing the strength of their vows. But none of that changes the fact that God had a good idea when He invented marriage.
One element that the critics of marriage always miss is faith. Marriage and family are God’s institutions for mankind. If a Christian is truly walking with God, truly wanting God’s best for his or her spouse, truly wanting to further God’s plan for himself, for his spouse, and for the world, then he will not abandon the idea of marriage. It’s not about what we get out of marriage. It is not the takers of this world who find fulfillment, but the givers, those who by God’s grace emulate the self-sacrificial giving of Christ, thus growing in His image (Romans 8:28–30; Ephesians 4:20–24). A good marriage will cost everything we have. And, in that giving, we will find the highest meaning of life in Christ.
None of this means that every believer must marry. God knows that it is better for some not to marry and that some situations make marriage undesirable. See 1 Corinthians 7. For those who do marry, it’s important to have an understanding of what God intends marriage to be. We should not allow the sad experiences and negativity of others to deter us from trusting God to give us marriages that truly exalt Him. A godly marriage can fulfill His purposes and provide a husband and wife a lifetime of opportunities to bless each other and their family in the name of Jesus Christ.