March 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
I previously wrote a post on love, and you can find it here if you want to read it. So naturally, the next thing that stems from love is marriage (“first comes love, then comes marriage”…you know the rhyme).
Almost everyone’s dream is to find that special someone; a person with whom they are connected to intimately, a person who understands them, a person who loves them despite their quirks and annoyances.
I am no different. I desire to love and be loved. I desire to be in a committed relationship. But I also want to do it on God’s timing, and that’s the hardest part. It’s hard to be patient and willing to let God lead you when every part of your mind and body is screaming at you to do this with that person. I know I’ve cried out to God saying, “I can’t! I just can’t be patient anymore!” when I know I should be patient. I’ve gotten frustrated when it seems His plans aren’t working when I want them to. So I remember Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, for it is only with His strength that I can overcome my selfish desires.
But as I keep that in mind, I wanted to study this concept of marriage. For some reason, it seems to become a super important topic once you hit 20 (and I’ll be turning 20 in a month at the time I’m writing this). All of a sudden, the topics of dating and relationships come up a lot. Sure they came up when I was a teenager, but they weren’t as serious, and I’ll admit, I knew very little about love then (then again, it’s not like I know everything about it now). My thoughts on relationships usually didn’t go beyond the first kiss. I saw them as a time of perfect bliss, perpetual romance, and grandiose promises, not as a real lifetime commitment. I had a very idealized view of relationships, and to some degree, I still do, although much less than before. So I figure the best way to study marriage is to go straight to the One who created it.
First, why is there marriage? God created us with a desire for companionship. He says in Genesis, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18 NKJV). We don’t want to be alone, and it’s not good for us to be alone. We naturally want to connect with someone on an intimate level. Of course, God is our first Friend, the One who first loved us, and we should long to have Him as our primary Companion. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to connect with another human. That’s why we have friends, both acquaintances and close friends, that’s why we have husbands and wives. And notice that is God who says that it’s not good that man be alone. It is He who decides when to make a comparable helper for Adam. We don’t see Adam pining for another companion or begging God to make another human being. From the text in Genesis 2, one can infer that Adam was quite content with just being with God. I mean, don’t you think it would be wonderful to interact directly with the One who created you? To daily walk with Him in the rest of His creation? To sit at His feet and listen to His teachings? I’m sure Adam enjoyed those times spent with God, and when the time came, God created a comparable helper for him, Eve, and brought her to Adam. Once they met, they connected and became “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 NKJV). God was in every part of their meeting. He orchestrated the first marriage, and I’m sure He saw its goodness and was pleased. Just as God was in Adam and Eve’s relationship, He should be in our relationships. He should be the one initiating it, facilitating it, and completing it.
Now about this “one flesh” concept, yes it hints at the sexual intimacy between Adam and Eve, but it also hints at their unity. Have you ever known someone, whether friend or significant other, who feels like an extension of you? You finish each other’s sentences, your minds think alike, people can’t picture one of you without the other. This aspect of a relationship is, I would say, more important than the sexual relationship. We tend to focus on the fact that once we get married, then we can have sex, as if that’s the end goal of marriage. But it’s not. Yes, it’s a gift that God gave us, but it is not the end-all-be-all of relationships. The more important thing is unity, being so connected with someone that it’s like you’re one person.
What I found most interesting about marriage is that it’s often depicted as an analogy to God’s relationship with His church. For that reason, we should glorify God in how we view marriage and relationships. It is through understanding marriage that one can understand how God loves His church. Then, we can accurately portray that love to those who may not know of it. Many times throughout the Bible, marital language is used to describe God’s relationship with His church. In John 14:1-4, Christ speaks to His disciples on how He will prepare a place for us and then come again to receive us to Himself; “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4 NKJV). During that time, when a young man and young woman were to be married, the bridegroom would build a dwelling for him and his bride. It would be a time of anticipation for the bride, for when he was finished, the bridegroom would bring her to their dwelling and they would then be married and live together. Just as a bridegroom prepares and builds a house for his betrothed, Christ is preparing heaven for His church. And as a church, we are to be preparing ourselves and waiting in anticipation for His coming. Some of the parables that Jesus tells to describe the kingdom of God use marital analogies. There is the Parable of the Ten Virgins and The Wedding Supper to name two, and each one shows that His coming for us is exciting and celebratory.
In Revelation, Christ’s coming for His church is again likened to marriage; “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”” (Revelation 19:6-9 NKJV). When God calls us to His kingdom, we will be prepared and adorned beautifully when we meet our Savior. We will take part in the marriage feast and live forever with our God.
When we take part in marriage as God ordained, we show those around us how God loves us. When husbands and wives love each other unconditionally, they reflect God’s matchless love for us. Have you ever just wanted to shower your love on someone else for no other reason but to show them that you love them? Or just to see them smile? God loves us and He wants to shower His blessings on us. He wants to give us His best at the best time much in the same way we want to give gifts to those that we love.
Now, marriage is wonderful, something that we all long for. And obviously, God created it and bestowed His blessing on it. But a mistake that many of us make, myself included, is that we pine for it without enjoying our singleness. We put our desire for marriage above our desire to commune with God. Marriage was created because it was not good for man to be alone, but remember that in his single life, Adam communed with God. I don’t think he was lonely at all, for he was in the presence of His Creator. When we are single we can fully bask in the presence of our creator without worrying about whether he or she likes me or what he or she meant by such and such statement. Paul, who was single by the way, says in 1 Corinthians 7, “He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife…The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.” It is while being single that you can cultivate your relationship with God. All of your focus will be on doing His work and on pleasing Him. Now this does not mean that once you say “I do”, all desire to do God’s work goes out the window. For those who are married, even as you seek to please your spouse and help him or her grow, seek all the more to please God in your actions. For those who are single (or dating), remember to keep developing your relationship with God for He will strengthen your character and prepare you, should it be in His will, for the one whom you’ll spend your life with. I came across a quote on the internet that said, “When you love God first, you love each other better.” Loving God comes first. And through your relationship with Him, you can love someone else just as He loves us and reflect His relationship with us.
What have I, and hopefully you, learned about marriage now? It’s sacred, blessed by God, and a gift. It’s a beautiful relationship that focuses on unity between man and woman; it is a unity so strong that they become one flesh. Further evidence to its sacredness is the fact that it is used to describe God’s love for the church. So marriage is an earthly representation of the love of God. And because it represents so high a concept, it is something that should not be taken lightly or haphazardly. It is one of the ways in which others can see the love of their Heavenly Father. Although marriage was given by God, it should not take the place of God. Just as Adam spent his time with His Creator when he was single, we should as well. And don’t let that communion die out once you do have a significant other. Always remember who your First Love is.