Sunday, February 1, 2015

4 Purposes of Marriage

by Stephen Kim

1. To Reflect Christ and His Church.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32)

This is, by far, the most important reason.  God ULTIMATELY made human marriage for the purpose of demonstrating Jesus’ love for His Church.

Before time began, God knew that He was going to create a humanity that He would have to one day redeem from sin (Eph 1:4).  As we all know, this came to pass in Redemptive History through the advent, life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – the central figure of human history.  Well, before God sent Christ down to redeem us, He created Adam and Eve.  The Bible informs us that God created the couple ultimately for the purpose of demonstrating His glory through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the infinite wisdom of God, He saw that exclusive male-female monogamy would be the best “dramatization” of the ultimate reality that is, Christ and His Church.  This is why a proper understanding of biblical gender roles is so crucial for a healthy marriage.  (As a corollary therefore, it follows that one cannot have the happiest marriage humanly possible if one is not a Christian.)  Christians have a heavy mantle of responsibility to bear.   Through their marriages, they are to demonstrate to an unbelieving world the power of the relational dynamic that exists between Jesus and His people.  Therefore, husbands who don’t love their wives severely weaken their personal witnesses to the gospel because the way that they love their wives ought to demonstrate the way Christ loved His people (the Church).  Likewise, wives also trounce their gospel witness when they don’t submit to their husbands as the Church is called to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 

2. To Bear Children.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

“Have kids.” Those were perhaps the first words spoken by God to the first married couple.

I want to say this as lucidly as possible.  If you are a biologically healthy Christian (i.e., not infertile or physically handicapped), then you are expected (by God) to strive to produce your own offspring.  (This does not mean that you ought to have as many children as possible – that’s another article for another day.)  Children are the decisive and ultimate manifestations of marital consummation.  In a biological child, you have exactly 50% of the mother’s chromosomal DNA and 50% of the father’s chromosomal DNA.  Children are visible demonstrations of the beautiful “one flesh” union that occurred between mom and dad (something homosexuals will never be able to produce – even with state sanctioned marriage legality).

Now, if after prayerfully trying, God does not grant you children, then that’s fine.  You praise God and move on with living life for His glory without children, or you look into adoption (no IVF, artificial insemination, etc.).  However, if you do not wish to have children, then don’t get married.  God does not desire couples to go into marriage with the explicit intent of not having children.  God actively wants and expects children out of marriage unions.  This is primarily due to the fact that Christian parents have been entrusted with the duty and privilege of raising the next generation of disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Listen to the prophet Malachi: “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring (Malachi 2:15).”

3. To Have Sex.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

The verse above could mean a lot of things (e.g., spiritual union, emotional union, etc.), but primarily and fundamentally, it’s talking about sex.  Sex is a beautiful gift from God.  In fact, there’s an entire book in the Bible virtually exclusively dedicated to extolling the beauties of monogamous eroticism (i.e., Song of Solomon).  Some erroneously say that sex must not be enjoyed, but should merely be done as a duty to produce children.  The Bible, however, instructs men to actually enjoy sex with their wives:

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. (Proverbs 5:18-19)

Men and women are naturally wired as sexual beings.  God’s purpose for this wiring is marriage.  Be aware, however, that the only God-sanctioned haven for the healthy expression of human sexuality is the one-woman-with-one-man marriage bed (Heb 13:4).  Any form of sexual activity outside of marriage is therefore, disordered and is a sin (e.g., adultery, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, masturbation, bestiality, etc.).   Having established that, here’s some brief advice to each sex:

Men: 
Generally, we tend to desire sex more frequently than our wives.  However, be gracious.  Love her as Christ loved the Church.  Be patient and understanding – instead of being demanding.  If she’s tired, sick, or “not in the mood,” try to graciously serve her. Have self-control and refrain that night.  Remember, Jesus came to serve – not to be served.  However, kindly (at the right time) have a conversation with her about it.  It is not right (and spiritually dangerous) for a wife to continually deprive her husband of sex.  A Christian woman should know (and practice) the teachings of 1 Corinthians 7:

The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.  Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

Women:
Rejoice in the fact that God has enabled you to uniquely and exclusively satisfy your husband’s sexual needs.  He is commanded by God not to have sex with another woman (Exo 20:14), not to have his eyes wander lustfully to another woman (Job 31:1), and not to even think/fantasize sexually about another woman (Matt 5:28).  These are some huge commands for men who are wired as heavily visual, sexual, beings.  We are all aware of the sexual affairs that male leaders have, the financial prosperity of the porn industry, and the fact that prostitution is one of the oldest illicit vocations in mankind’s history.  Yes indeed, 1 Corinthians 7:5 is right: Satan will tempt men with sex!  Now, what am I saying?  Am I saying that if a man has an affair, then it’s the wife’s fault for not giving him enough sex?  No!  The adultery committed will fully, 100% be on the unfaithful husband’s head.  However, the Bible says that a healthy, consistent, and regular sex life within marriage is a great deterrent against sexual temptation.  In fact, unless you BOTH agree to a period of abstinence for the purpose of prayer, then you SHOULD be having sex.  This glorifies God.

But what if you don’t feel like it?  What if you’re tired?  What if you’re not in a romantic mood?

I am going to gently say, “Give it to him any way.”  Remember, in marriage, your joy is in his joy.  It’s about self-sacrifice.  If he’s a godly man, he’ll honor your request and back off.  However, as a godly woman, try your best to give it to him every time he asks.  Remember, marital sex is commanded by God and you glorify God by having it.  Even if the sex doesn’t please you, if he desires it, the Bible says not to defraud him (the literal Greek translation of the word “deprive” in  1 Cor 7:5).  Defraud, because within marriage, he has the right to sexually access your body.  “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (1 Cor 7:4).”

Finally, there are only three times when a married couple should be abstaining from sex:
  1. During the woman’s menstrual cycle.  “You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness (Leviticus 18:19).”
  2. During mutually agreed-upon seasons dedicated for prayer.  “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Cor 7:5).”
  3. During times of ailment and disability.   “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).” “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Cor 12:26).”
4. Companionship.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

No one should get married just to have kids.  No one should get married just to have sex. Friendship and companionship is an essential purpose for marriage.  Now listen closely, companionship does not mean that the person must be an expert in all your fields of interest.  You were meant to “fit” or “complement” each other – not be duplicates of each other.  Your spouse might not be an expert in sports talk, theology, philosophy, hair design, interior design, mathematics, baking, or whatever your field of interest; but he/she is nevertheless your primary companion – not the boys at the barber shop and not your hair dresser.  Friends have their place, but your spouse ought to be your primary friend and companion.  You should not be running to your spouse for sex and then to your friends for your primary companionship.  Your spouse ought to be your best friend for life. That’s the way God intended it to be.  This is what honors God.

So talk to each other.  Sip some hot chocolate over a slow fire together.  Spend tons of uninterrupted time with each other.  Seek each other’s advice.  Be best friends.  You’re married because it wasn’t good for you to be alone.