“Marriage should be honored by all” (Hebrews 13:4). A biblical marriage, consisting of one man and one woman in a loving, lifelong commitment, is an honorable and godly institution. Fads come and go, and the world has its biases, but God’s plan for marriage is still the building block of society.
Unfortunately, some people are losing their faith in marriage as an institution. Some, even those who call themselves Christians, denigrate marriage as “a fool’s game” that is bound to end in regret. Some take the disillusioned view that to make a lifelong commitment is foolhardy, since the other person is going to change—we don’t know what our spouse will be like in twenty, or even five, years. He or she could be a completely different person—are we to be held to a vow we made in our youth?
If marriage were intended only to gratify the personal desires of a man or woman, then, and only then, the description of holy wedlock as “foolish” might be valid. But a godly marriage is not selfish. The marriage vow is not a lifetime commitment to be loved. It is a vow to give love. Marriage is a commitment to give love for life. It is a determination to live for the benefit of the other person, to stand by and behind the loved one. To give and give and give, even to the point of giving one’s own life (Ephesians 5:25).
Even more fundamentally, man did not invent marriage. God did. When God made mankind male and female, placed them in Eden, and brought them 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 and reflect His image (Genesis 1:26–28; 2:22–24). Human reproduction was God’s first stated mandate for the united Adam and Eve. Marriage, God’s first and most fundamental institution, is designed to be the foundation for the family unit.
Further, to properly and fully reflect the whole image of God, mankind was created in two genders, “male and female” (Genesis 1:27). The full reflection of God’s character in mankind requires both genders, man and woman. Marriage is the means by which the two genders are most intimately connected. When man and woman are united in marriage, they together reflect a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22–32). Marriage is about much more than romantic bliss or companionship or sexual intercourse.
Believers find true joy in marital partnership with each other when God is their guide. Yes, the honeymoon will end. Yes, both spouses will prove to be somewhat different from what they presented to each other while courting. Yes, sooner or later both husband and wife will be disappointed in something about each other. Yes, people change, and not always for the better. But God had a good idea when He invented marriage—“very good,” according to Genesis 1:31. God even uses marriage as a metaphor for His relationship with His people (Hosea 2:19–20).
Marriage will reveal weaknesses in each individual. Trials and challenges will come. The strength of the vows will be tested. But we live by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Marriage is God’s institution for mankind. If He invented it, if He designed it to fulfill His purposes, and if He is in it, then it is good. We should not abandon the idea of marriage just because some people have not got out of it what they imagined they would. After all, it is not the takers of this world who find fulfillment, but the givers (Acts 20:35). Those who by God’s grace emulate the self-sacrificial giving of Christ will find marriage to be good. It will cost something—actually, it will cost everything! But, it is in giving of ourselves that we 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 some situations make marriage undesirable. See 1 Corinthians 7. A single person gives self-sacrificial love in other ways and still reflects the character of God. Marriage is not for all, but marriage itself is a godly institution that should be held in esteem.
Marriage should not be miserable, and it won’t be if we understand what God intends marriage to be and follow His instructions. A godly, biblical marriage provides a lifetime of opportunities for two people to bless each other and their family in the name of Jesus Christ. Our Lord blessed His friends’ wedding at Cana with His joyful support (John 2:1–5), and He still blesses the marital union today.