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THEOLOGY > Man > Marriage: Two Become One > Purpose of Marriage 


PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

Moses records the statement of God regarding the male and female that He created: “the two shall become one flesh” (Matt. 19:5; see Mk. 10:7 and Gen. 2:24); the “two” individuals are to become “one.” But in what sense and for what purpose are the two to become one? The man and the woman are to become one in every sense; their union is for the purpose of procreation, companionship, work, and enjoyment.

Procreation – God’s command was for Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Note the three words: “fruitful,” “multiply,” and “fill”; each of these speak of increase and enlargement. Sexual union that often results in children is to be part of marriage (I Cor. 7:5). It should not be the purpose of men and women to limit the population but to expand the population—the earth is to be “filled.” At this point in history that has not occurred; much of the earth is still unpopulated and without inhabitants.

The psalmist writes:

Behold, children are a heritage from YHWH, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them (127:3-5).

The issue is not whether there are sufficient resources within and on the earth to sustain a growing population; rather, the issue is whether man will so utilize the resources that are available so that they will sustain a growing population. The crucial consideration is not only what God has said about man’s responsibility to increase the population but what man will do to facilitate that increase. Man is not free to change the commands of God because of his own sinful exploitation of the earth that God has provided for his well-being; man must obey the Lord’s instructions. Are children to be denied because of man’s selfish use of the earth? Or, is the solution for man to repent and reorder his conduct (see: Dominion Mandate)?

For the man who fears the Lord and works hard, his reward is a fruitful wife in the house and children around the table:

When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord (Ps. 128:2-4).

Companionship – God said that it is “not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). God made man to need companionship at every level: spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and psychological. Men do not like to admit it, but they are inadequate for the requirements of life; they need help.

A man needs a woman to complete him and enable him to become all that God intends for him to be. Without the woman man is lonely and deficient. This fact is established in the statement of God: “I will make him a helper” (Gen. 2:18)—man needs a partner. The word, “helper” is God’s word, but it does not indicate inferiority on the part of the woman; rather, the word communicates an inadequacy on the part of the man.

And man’s need is for a partner that is similar to him, but among the animals no such helper was found (Gen. 2:20). Therefore, God said that He would make a helper “comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18); that is, God would make one that was “like” the man who would be a helper and a companion to the man. So God uniquely created the woman—He also made her in His image like He had made the man—to correspond to the man and to harmonize with the man. The woman complements the man in a manner that is not possible for any of the animals. Both man and woman are separate and distinct from the animal world; there is no continuity between them and the rest of creation; humanistic biology that seeks to establish the connection is without foundation or justification (see: Image of God).

Because of their commonality and also because of their dissimilarity, the man and the woman are endowed to fulfill the purpose of God for each of them. After making the woman  the Scriptures state that God “brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:22); the two of them were made to be together. Properly joined and working in concert, both will find meaning and satisfaction in living.

In the companionship there is the need for patience, understanding, humility, and all of the other qualities that are basic to human relationships. Both the man and woman must exercise them; without these the marriage is a mere struggle for existence rather than a continual and increasing satisfaction.

Work – After the creation of Adam the Scriptures record that “there was not found a helper comparable for him” (Gen. 2:20).  A helper is significant for the man because there is much work to do. Man is lord over the earth, for he has been given the Dominion Mandate by God (see: Dominion Mandate). In the Mandate man is told to “subdue it” and to “have dominion” over the earth and over every living thing (Gen. 1:28). It is in connection with this work that the Scriptures record the above statement. Because of the magnitude of the task, Adam needed help.

The Scriptures teach that man was not “created for the woman, but woman for the man” (I Cor. 11:9); in other words, the woman was created as a “helper” for the man, to use the word from the Genesis account. Therefore, in some sense the life of the wife is not to be devoted to personal and self-centered pursuits by which she seeks satisfaction, but the fulfillment of the woman is to be found in a life of devotion and assistance to her husband. This sentiment is a difficult concept to accept by those wives who have imbibed from the secular culture an emphasis on feminism that is inconsistent with the Scriptures.

Enjoyment – God intends for the man and the woman to become “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24), so marriage is for sexual intimacy and fulfillment. The sexual experience does not reveal weakness of the flesh nor excessive indulgence that mitigates against the spirit, but rather is an experience for which the male and female were created. It is at the heart of God’s plan for the two to become one.

Scripture describes the joy of sexual relationship:

Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breast satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress? (Prov. 5:15-20);

How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your thighs are life jewels, the work of the hands of a skillful workman. Your navel is a rounded goblet; it lacks no blended beverage. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. Your neck is like an ivory tower, your eyes like the pools in Hesbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus. Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel, and the hair of your head is like purple; a king is held captive by your tresses. How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! The stature of yours is like a palm tree, and your breasts like its clusters. I said, "I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches." Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and the roof of your mouth like the best wine (Song of Solomon 7:1-9);

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled (Heb. 13:4).

Scripture also teaches that in the marriage relationship both husband and wife have conjugal rights; neither is to deny the other: “Do not deprive one another except with a consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (I Cor. 7:5). Neither deprives the other because the body of each belongs to the other: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (I Cor. 7:6). So there is to be a mutual satisfaction and fulfillment; abstinence is to be for only a brief period, if at all. God intends for the two to become one and for the union to be gratifying.


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