What Is God's Intention for Marriage?
- Kwanza Fisher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2022 5 May
What if I told you that every believer is married, whether they have taken wedding vows or not?
What if I told you that your marriage is not an end but rather a means to accomplish God’s redemptive plan on the earth? Perhaps many more Christians would see their marriages differently, and many would go into marriage with a different outlook. When we know what a thing is intended for, we will have the correct paradigm for its use.
So What Is God’s Intention for Marriage?
Before diving into this question, I believe God wants us to know why He created marriage and what His plans are for marriage in these times. As we look forward to the day of Christ’s return, we should increasingly turn away from things of the world and focus on eternal things. Some may question the importance of marriage with verses like Matthew 22:30, where Jesus said that marriage is for people on earth; and that in the resurrection, people “neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of Heaven.” There is also 1 Corinthians chapter 7, where Paul warns about the distractions that marriage can present to a serious servant of Christ.
Yet, we all know that marriage is a natural desire and expectation for most. God’s first command to humanity was to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis 1:28. Juxtaposed to this reality is the fact that God does not need people to get married to fulfill His purposes; He can say one word, and all of His plans can be fulfilled instantly. He can choose to call everyone to singleness and still fulfill His plans: Yet, he decides to partner with us, and many times via the blessed institution of marriage. Why? What is His intent?
For the time that the Lord tarries, God’s intent for marriage is that it should be a symbolic representation of who He is and what His plans are. Moreover, marriage is a natural realm vehicle by which God’s plans can practically and righteously be fulfilled. The spirit of marriage encourages us to wait and make ourselves ready for Christ’s return.
A Representation of Who He Is
God of Order
First, consider that God is a God of order. Everything He has done, is doing, or will do–from creation to the fulfillment of His redemptive plan–is done in order. Under Mosaic Law, His commandments established order in the lives of His people. Marriage, as a creation of God Himself, is no different. The process leading up to a godly marriage follows a certain order and takes time. Through this, God is able to bear a stark contrast to the chaos of our fallen world, which promotes instant gratification outside of righteousness and sexuality outside of the confines of godly commitment.
Not only does marriage demonstrate God’s sense of order, but the selflessness required in marriage is also symbolic of God’s giving heart. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” In marriage, it is all giving; one must be fully committed and always willing to put their spouse above themselves. Why? That is precisely how God has been to us, even in our sin. The selflessness required in marriage represents God’s sacrificial giving heart to humanity.
Also, understand that God is faithful, and because the bedrock of marriage is faithfulness, God intends for a marriage to be an easy view into His own nature. The Bible says that all of God’s promises are “yes and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20), meaning that He will surely bring to pass whatever He has promised. Every book of the Bible tells of His faithfulness.
In the Old Testament, God is often described as a faithful husband to his remnant Israel; Though Israel was stubborn and rebellious, God was faithful to them for the sake of His redemptive plan, as the Savior would come through their lineage. Faithfulness remembers the covenant and mirrors who God has always been. When Christians operate out of the fruit of the Spirit in their marriages, they demonstrate God to a lost and dying world, and they show that marriage is a vehicle by which the world can see longsuffering at work. This stands in the face of the prevailing culture, which makes allowance for flakiness, fair-weather friendship, and adultery.
Symbolic of God’s Plans
The Bible is replete with symbolic representations, as types and shadows demonstrate a foreshadow of God’s plan. For example, Hosea married Gomer, the prostitute, in order to demonstrate God’s faithfulness to backsliding Israel. The Passover lamb for the Israelites would foreshadow Jesus, the sacrificial lamb slain for our sins. Many theologians even purport that the Exodus Red Sea crossing is a type and shadow of baptism and spiritual rebirth.
God’s most conspicuous plan has been the rescue of humankind from sin through Jesus. Throughout history, He has used marriage to both fulfill and prophetically express this plan. Why? God wants–and has always wanted–a family. He is always in search of true love. He redeems us so that we can have fellowship with Him in this life–and then forever. When we live our lives for Him, we say yes in fidelity to His proposal that we will be His forever. According to Scripture, there will be a great consummation of the Ekklesia–God’s Church–to Himself through Christ the Messiah.
The preparation of Christ’s Church for His return has been compared to a bride adorning herself, making herself ready for the bridegroom. According to Revelation 19, the marriage supper of the lamb is the consummation of Christ and His Church. Though we will not be married nor given in marriage once we are with God, God uses marriage to foreshadow things yet to come, representing His desire to be in fellowship with us forever.
In the current Church Age, the covenant and institution of marriage are intended to demonstrate Christ’s love for His Church and the communion the Church shares with Christ. It is also used to teach members of His body how to love each other. Ephesians 5:25 says that men are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Christ gave himself for the Church; In turn, the Church delivers His message to the world, being fruitful concerning His commission, creates a safe haven where His laws prevail, brings people into relationship with God, and nurtures the new sons and daughters in that growing relationship. The Church possesses all of those feminine qualities of a wife who keeps the home and brings forth children fathered by the priest of that home. Scripture declares that Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14), making intercession for us. As we submit to Him, we are fruitful and maintain a haven where believers can fellowship and draw closer to Him.
How God Uses Human Marriage to Accomplish His Will Today
While marriage has been used as a type and shadow, God’s intention for marriage extends to the practical accomplishment of His plan for us individually and collectively.
The reality is that when two people get married, neither of them is perfect. There is always a need for greater sanctification. God uses marriage to accomplish this. A clash of personality and situational challenges presents an opportunity for humility and growth. God intends to refine our hearts through the covenant of marriage and through constant self-denial, shaping and molding us to look more and more like Him. Moreover, as we are sanctified, we better stand to receive the blessings and promises that come with covenant union.
Marriage as a Blessing of Provision; Community
While marriage shapes us personally, it also shapes communities and economies economically and even culturally. Studies show that marriage is a leading weapon against poverty, as the work of running a household, which is the most basic unit of the economy, can be expensive in time and money. Having the partnership that marriage bestows makes home economics more efficient, making married homes more supportive and benefitting the local economy. With the blessing of financial prosperity comes the stability that can guarantee better child-rearing situations, more support for others in a local community, and greater ministry opportunities.
God has also given many married couples the mandate to adopt, which is a direct fulfillment of God’s command to care for orphans, demonstrating God’s heart of adoption for children of the world and the souls of men. According to Barna Group, Christian married couples are twice as likely to adopt than the rest of the population, demonstrating how God uses marriages to touch the world and to reflect His own heart of adoption toward us, as expressed in Roman 8:15: “But ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
Ultimately, God often uses marriages to demonstrate the seasoning, or salt flavor of His people, to the lost and dying, the forgotten and abandoned, and the poor. He uses marriages to show His covenant love to ultimately fulfill His Great Commission.
Advancement of the Gospel
The use of marriage to promote the gospel goes beyond the financial; Senior leadership of many ministries consists of husband and wife teams. In fact, the instance of married couple ministry teams is so frequent that it is undeniable that marriage not only prepares a person but helps launch them into greater service for the gospel. It is through marriage–whether through our covenant with God Himself or with a spouse–that we can more effectively minister to others. There is something about the bond of multiples that produces power and anointing. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “When two or three are gathered together, I am there in your midst .”Even when Jesus sent out his disciples to nearby towns, He sent them out by twos! Moreover, marriage can serve as a litmus test to help determine if a person is ready to serve in ministry. 1 Timothy 3:5 says, “For if someone does not know how to manage His own household, how can he take care of God’s church?”
Marriage also advances the gospel by establishing Christian families and hence, more Christian witnesses. That is done as more families themselves are Christian, creating a foundation of faith for generations to come through the reproduction of offspring and child-rearing. More people who have a Christian foundation will subsequently–and very likely– have a Christian testimony, even if they happen to take the road of a prodigal.
When the world looks at a Christian marriage, they should be able to behold who Christ is, and it should draw unbelievers to Him. As redemption is still available to the world, marriage continues to be a tool to bring transformation to the world and invite more people into relationship with Christ, whether it be through the prosperity of the Church and its body, the advancement of ministries and the spread of the gospel, or impact in communities.
When we enter into a saving relationship with God through Christ Jesus, we enjoy the spirit of marriage for each of our lives, whether or not we actually get married or stay single on earth, for God is the very personification of marriage and has expressed His faithful heart throughout Scripture. Through our individual and collective oneness with Christ as His Church, we can bear the sweet scent of Heaven and God’s heart to the world. Until the Church is called away in the fulfillment of eschatological prophecy, Christian marriage will continue to be a sign of God’s character and promises and will continue to be a means by which God blesses His children and even the entire world.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/jodie777
Kwanza Fisher is an educator in the greater Atlanta area where she enjoys a good hike, current events, and reading and writing about the Christian journey. She graduated with a Bachelors in East Asian Studies from Wellesley College and has a passion for international affairs from a Biblical perspective.