What Is the Purpose of Marriage?

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I wrote this short response to an article I read in Northwestern College‘s student newspaper entitled “Ring by Spring and Happily Never After”:

In the Janurary 27th issue of The Column, the A&E Editor published an article entitled “Ring by spring and happily never after.” Although the said article carried a disclaimer at its end, The Editor’s statements were already beyond that sort of nicety. It is no surprise to any Northwestern student to hear of budding relationships, recent engagements, and upcoming weddings of students that we know and sit in class with. I was one of those students. I dated, was engaged to, and married my wife during my years at NWC. Upon reading “Ring by spring and happily never after” I found myself taking offense to the article. I took offense not because I am young and married, but because The Editor (and writer) of the article wrote with an incorrect presupposition about marriage. In other words, the article carried with it a spirit that believes that “marriage is meant to make you happy.” While this is true, it is not the primary purpose of marriage. The primary purpose of marriage is sanctification, and happiness is a byproduct of love, faithfulness, and commitment towards your spouse. When I stated my vows I understood that my wife would not always make me happy, but that I was still to love her, wash her with the Word, pray for her soul, and lay down my life for her as Christ laid down His life for the Church. I agree with the Editor, many students at Northwestern can and do rush into relationships prematurely without grasping the gravity of marriage. However, the gravity of marriage lies in the truth that it is not meant to make you happy, it is meant to make you holy. Getting married is not simply finding “the one [your] soul loves” as The Editor wrote, rather it is about pursuing the Lord Jesus Christ with your spouse through a sanctifying and unbreakable covenant—even if it does not make you happy. That is the weight that all who enter marriage, including myself, need to grasp with the help of the Grace of Jesus. Those who find themselves in a marriage unlike what they expected must remember what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “It is no longer your love that sustains the marriage, but the marriage that sustains your love.” This is a high, magnificent, and beautiful calling. So when The Editor wrote, “don’t be so quick to tie yourself down that you miss out on other people and experiences,” I find myself looking at my wife and thinking: I am not missing out on anything. Please Northwestern, do not settle for the Christ-less idea of marriage that lies to you saying it is for your happiness. No, marriage is for much more than that, it is for the Glory of God, the renown of Jesus Christ, and the holiness of you and your spouse.

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