Heading into marriage, it is crucial to have a clear and realistic view of what marriage is all about. Our culture screams messages of vanity, happiness, lust, and other false emotional fulfillment. While marriage is certainly fulfilling and the source of much joy, happiness, and love, that’s not the heart of it.The heart of marriage is three-fold.First, marriage provides strength in numbers. God knew that life would be tough and we would need support. Marriage provides that added strength and reinforcement to fulfill God’s calling and purpose for our life while combating Satan’s fiery darts and attacks. We can uphold one another in prayer, be the comforting hug at the end of the day, and advocate for our spouse to fight the good fight while pursuing God’s will. God also promises us that He will be present when we gather together. In Matthew 18:20, He tells us “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Not only does marriage provide us with the daily encouragement and support we need to face life head on, but it allows us the ability to take things before God and have Him in our midst.
Secondly, marriage is an opportunity for growth and character development. It is as though God created marriage as a means of refinement. In Proverbs 27:17 the Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Marriage is a unique relationship that allows us to become better, sharper, and more refined people who can more clearly reflect the characteristics of Christ. Our relationship with our spouse teaches us to bear the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23. There is no better training ground than marriage for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Thirdly, we are provided with a unique and wonderful glimpse into how God loves us through the marital relationship. When we love our spouse unconditionally despite the flaws and failures he or she possesses, we are displaying that selfless and undeserved love that Christ displayed for us on the cross. Throughout the Bible, Christ compares marriage to His relationship with the Church. Ephesians 5:25-29 commands us in caring for our spouse. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means to submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the Church. He is the Savior of his body, the Church. As the Church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s Word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.” This passage, along with several others in the Bible, lets us know that we are to care for our spouse in the same manner that Christ cared for the Church. In loving and caring for our spouse in this way, we provide them with a glimpse of how much Christ loves, adores, and forgives us in spite of imperfections.
Marriage is a gift from God. It is an opportunity to be stronger and closer to God, to develop, grow, and refine ourselves as Christ followers, and to demonstrate as well as feel a glimpse of our Heavenly Father’s love for us. Marriage should be treated with care and intentionality to uphold the sanctity and importance of it.