A Biblical Understanding of Marriage: Part 2- God's Purpose for Marriage
Read Genesis 1:26-31
"God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created Him."
"What is God's design for your marriage?" We often view marriage from the standpoint of companionship; spending time together with someone, and sharing the joys and struggles of life. It is about taking a hike in the woods, enjoying the radiance of a sunset with another, and having someone encourage us when we are discouraged. Indeed, these are part of marriage. However, as we saw yesterday, marriage is not just a social relationship but is profoundly theological. It is not the cultural norms and expectations that define marriage; it is God himself. Consequently, to discover the true purpose of our marriage, we must seek to understand what God's purpose is for our marriage.
When God ordained marriage as the foundation for society, He established a threefold purpose, which ties together to His ultimate goal for humanity. This threefold purpose is found in Genesis 1:26-31. First, God designed marriage to reflect His image in the world. Individually we do so by developing and manifesting His character and moral law within our personal lives. However, this reflection will always fall short, even in a perfect world. We fall short because we are individuals, whereas God is triune. He exists as three distinct persons (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet They share the same essence. In Their individuality, there is also oneness. Thus, we speak of God as One God even though there are three distinct personalities. This unity within the Godhead is what becomes reflected in marriage when we become one (Genesis 2:24). The word "one" has the idea of diversity within unity. In marriage, the husband and wife reflect God's character in a way that could not be reflected individuality, for they now reflect the community existing in the trinity.
Second, God's purpose for marriage is "to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." Marriage is the formation of a new family, which is the basis by which all society is built. God's design for marriage is that it be the source for the continuation and growth of the human race. Furthermore, this command for fruitfulness ultimately has a redemptive purpose. In chapter 3, we find that the world's savior will come from the ranks of humanity.
Third, God's purpose for marriage is that they would subdue the earth. This refers to the establishment of God's rule within the world. God chooses to use marriage as the means through which His kingdom will be realized. To reflect God's image and be God's representative on earth involves representing God as His appointed ruler. In other words, in our marriage, we are to be kingdom bearers who manifest God's rule over our lives through our marriage as a testimony of God's sovereign control over the universe.
This brings us to the common theme: God's purpose for marriage and all humanity is to reflect God's sovereign rule over the earth and advance His kingdom by proclaiming the gospel to others. We have lost the meaning of marriage because we have lost the centrality of God's kingdom and reign in our lives. It is more than relational; it is to be redemptive. At the center of our marriage is to be the desire to promote the rule of Christ to the world. This confronts us with the foundational question we must ask ourselves, "Are we reflecting and advancing God's kingdom through our marriage?" As we shall see in the next devotional, this begins by fulfilling God's purpose for both the husband and the wife.