Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marriage Is About What We Give It

Marriage is anything but a human invention, and is not primarily the consequence of "falling in love." Unfortunately, that's about as deep as the cultural understanding of marriage gets in the West, and as a result, God's purposes for marriage have been frustrated and public trust in the institution has been eroded to the point of collapse. The Bible tells us God instituted marriage to accomplish several things for humankind from his perspective, and to allow several things from our perspective to be accomplished in our lives.

From God's perspective, marriage was meant to provide the human race with companionship in the mission of life, to be the environment for sexual expression and the conception of new life, and to be a bastion of holiness and learning for the family. To be honest, it's not like fallen man was ever going to do well achieving such noble ends. Nonetheless, noble ends these are, and they need to be front and center in our consideration of the institution.

From our perspective, marriage is meant to provide fundamental emotional comfort, to supply the security of a loyal commitment, and to be a reliable source of provision and care. These too are noble goals, but unfortunately are set before the eyes of the inherently ignoble. Nonetheless, this is the design of marriage, and we need to understand this if we're ever to honor the bond with the gravity it deserves.

Marriage has been romanticized through myth, tale, torrid paperbacks, and the insipid celluloid regurgitations of Hollywood. The emphasis, generally, is on how Prince Charming or Snow White makes their love feel. If these sources are the only input informing one's expectations of marriage, that one will, in all likelihood, make a terrible spouse and find the trouble of maintaining the bond of matrimony more than he or she cares to bear. You see, in the real world God made, marriage is not about what we get out of it, but what we give to it.