“Strengthening your ministry by strengthening your marriage.” This is the mission statement of the Three Strands Ministry Team and is founded on Biblical principles regarding marriage. These foundational scriptures can be discovered in Genesis, Colossians, Corinthians, Ephesians, and 1st Timothy. I have been thinking a lot about these scriptures and recently heard a podcast from our friends at Fierce Marriage concerning scripture and marriage. This has motivated me to think a little deeper about what scripture says about our marriage. I personally love the science behind marriage; communication, sexuality, emotion, etc. However, as believers, we need a strong understanding of what scripture has to say about covenant marriage.
Your Marriage is not About Your Marriage
A strong marriage is not an end in itself. A strong marriage creates a foundation from which to minister and serve. A strong marriage reflects the image of Christ and the Church. A strong marriage creates a fellowship between two people, strengthening both partners and allowing them to express their talents better. A strong marriage forms the foundation of a stable church and therefore creates a stronger foundation for cities, states and countries.
The Purpose of Your Marriage is Fellowship
In Genesis, we see the first purpose of marriage, fellowship. God created the heavens and earth, then placed man in the garden, gave him a job and said “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) It is the first time that God created and did not say “It is good.” This is often referred to as the “pregnant pause” in creation where God focuses on his preparation for woman. He puts Adam to work naming animals and as Adam does so, he finds that there is a female for every male, “but no suitable helper could be found.” (Genesis 2:20) God made sure Adam knew what it was like to be alone so he would appreciate the fellowship of his wife. When she was created he was so happy he actually broke out into song.
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
Additionally, marriage is about woman being created for man as a strong defender and helper, as a loving partner (Genesis 2, Proverbs 5:19), a wise adviser (Proverbs 31), and as a family manager (1 Timothy 5:14). Husband and wife together, acting as best friends, serving one another in unique ways, makes up the fellowship of marriage.
The Purpose of Your Marriage is Procreation and Sexual Purity
One of the first commands God gave man was to “subdue the earth” (Genesis 1:28) For this purpose God created a sexual drive, usually stronger in men than women, for the purpose of intimacy and procreation. As with many things, the enemy uses this drive, originally meant for good and blessing, to tempt people into sin. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, recognizes this and says that the answer is for each man to have sexual relations with his own wife (1 Corinthians 7:2) He goes so far as to tell each spouse that their body is not their own and that they cannot withhold themselves from one another unless there is a mutual agreement and for a short time. (1 Corinthians 7:5) Marriage is the place where sexual expression, child-rearing, and the nuclear family dynamic are held together for the glory of the creator of the family, God.
The Purpose of Your Marriage is Sanctification
I can say it no better than Tim Keller, Author of The Meaning of Marriage, so I will not try.
“What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have. I can think of no more powerful common horizon than that, and that is why putting a Christian friendship at the heart of a marriage relationship can lift it to a level that no other vision for marriage approaches.”
Later her writes:
“Within this Christian vision for marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’” Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel.“1
Marriage is about God utilizing the joy of marriage to teach you appreciation and thanksgiving and using the struggles of marriage to teach you sacrificial love, respect, and patience. In short, he uses us as a couple, both in our obedience and in our rebellion, to grow the image of Christ in each of us.
Challenge: This week think about the blessings of your marriage. This may be difficult for about 25% of us as a quarter of couples are stressed and challenged at any given time. Do it anyway. Give thanks to God for the blessings you have (1 Thess. 5:18) and provide a word of encouragement to your spouse for what they bring into your life (1 Thess. 5:11).
Stretch Challenge: Do this daily for the next week.
1 Keller, Timothy. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (p. vi). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.