What is the purpose of marriage? Why does it exist?
The Lord said, ‘It is not good for a man to be alone’; I will make a helper fit for him’ (Gen 2:18)
The common reading of this verse implies that it is not good for a man to be lonely. – as if the night life for Adam in the garden was not great and there was nothing good on Eden Cable TV! But is that all that going on here? Man needed some cheering up?
Reading on in verses 19-23 suggest a little more.
Every beast of the field, every bird of the heavens were brought to Adam – but from all, none was found suitable as a ‘helper fit for him’ (2:20)
So the Lord created woman from the rib of Adam and when she was brought to him he responds with joy ‘ At last…bone of my bones…flesh of my flesh…she shall be called Woman’ (2:23)
I was at a wedding once when the reading was this one and the reader said ‘she shall be called Whoa – Man’!!
Jokes aside – it somewhat makes the point – Adam’s response in 2:23 without our fallen sex-saturated culture to ruin it for us is saying that this union is sexual, relational and made for one another – this is the way things should be.
But of course who can determine what the purpose of something is, other than the one who created or built it in the first place?
‘Better Homes and Gardens’ the lifestyle TV show, has segment after segment where something that was originally intended for one thing, is transformed into something else – a bike wheel becomes a picture, a old ladder into a book case, a cowboy boot into a kids lamp!
With human creators we get to argue about whether or not a boot is better suited to wearing on your foot or being converted into a lamp, but with God we have no such liberty. If he says marriage is for something, then that is what it is for. And of course there are a range of competing possibilities when we ask the question of what marriage is for.
- Marriage is for the expression of romantic feelings.
- Marriage is for physical satisfaction of sexual urges.
- Marriage is for the stability of society.
- Marriage is for the bringing up of children in a safe and stable environment.
- Marriage is for producing Godly offspring (Mal 2:15)
- Marriage is because it is not good for the man to be alone.
There may be many biblical purposes for marriage, but to start with, to be founded on – we have to recognise that God’s purpose for Marriage is at least to bring a Man and a Woman together for each other.
Any further purposes that may be determined for Marriage should not contradict or undermine that very core purpose.
Next post – The Purpose of Marriage: To Rule!