For most of my life, I have heard people talk about how the institution of marriage is in crisis. The statistics bear out this cry of alarm. Divorce rates continue to be high. Social scientists have identified a number of factors that contribute to this reality: access to birth control and the increasing economic independence of women are among the most important.
I think there is another one. We have lost a realistic sense of its purpose. We don’t really understand why getting married is a good thing.
Popular culture tells us a story about marriage. Two people “fall in love” and then they choose to marry so that they can bask in that feeling and live happily ever after. Couples marry expecting that the euphoria they feel in the early stages of their relationship will last for their lives. Then they wake up one day and realize they don’t feel the same all the time. “Falling in love” sometimes occurs for the wrong reasons. It can be a poor guide to a good marriage partner.
Some suppose that God’s purpose in marriage is to have and raise children. That is one of its purposes, but, according to Genesis, not the primary purpose.
The key to understanding God’s purpose for marriage is found in Genesis chapter 2. God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Then God found “a companion suitable for him.” The primary purpose of marriage is to complementary partners to walk the journey of life and faith together. Marriage is a sacred commitment, a pledge to God, to love, honor and cherish each other throughout our lives on earth.
The “happily ever after” myth about marriage does not work because it reinforces our selfish inclinations. As soon as our spouse no longer excites us or we “fall out of love,” we look for someone new. The story of God’s creation of marriage reminds us that marriage is not about “feeling good.” It is about selfless caring for each other.
Love in Christ,
Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church