What do you think is the purpose of marriage?
Ask your friends, “What is the purpose of marriage?” and you will get different answers. Christians have a unique responsibility in marriage because of their commitment to Christ.
“The times, they are a-changin’.” 1 Marriage is being redefined. Is it our privilege to change the definition? God designed marriage to be an interpersonal covenant with Christ between a man and a woman that is established, maintained, and enforced by God’s authority. Wedding ceremonies often include the quote from Mark 10:9.
“What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”Mark 10:9 ESV
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.Ephesians 5:31–32 NLT
But how do these verses impact our marriages?
The mystery of marriage solved
The mystery of marriage originated and was instituted by God to reveal heavenly truths through a tangible means on earth. Paul was so taken by this mystery that he asserted this truth is great, profound, and of mega importance. The Greek word mysterion conveys “the content of that which has not been known before but which has been revealed to an in-group or restricted constituency.” 2 Christ-followers occupying the roles of husband and wife are the in-group commissioned to be the artistic pigment that Christ desires to use to paint His portrait on the canvas of the world.
Transformed souls, who by faith have accepted Christ’s forgiveness for having lived by their own standards, are necessary for bearing this image. As a result, marriage begins to reach its potential when two lives embrace a committed relationship with Jesus Christ that reflects hearts given to the will and purpose of God. There can be no greater evidence of our faith, nor can there be any greater reason for our faith than to express within the course of our lives the very life that is in Christ.
What does it mean to be a marriage that ministers?
Marriages that minister depict a portrait of the redemptive reunion affording an inseparable oneness between the Divine and His bride. Though marriages inhabit a human plane, they are to provide anointed examples of the intimate connection that exists in the spiritual realm between Christ and His church. Therefore, our marriages must uphold this sacred trust given by God’s design while revealing His mystery to the world. The purpose of a Christian marriage is higher than for others.
God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.Ephesians 1:9–11 NLT
To minister, by definition, means to provide something necessary or helpful to attend to the needs of someone.3 A marriage that ministers provides a necessary, helpful example to a hurting world gone awry. Therefore, offering hope to weary hearts and lives, our marriages can exhibit the abundance that Christ freely supplies to those who depend on Him. Our triumphant testimony can tell of an all-sufficient Christ who fills the void of all that is lacking.
What’s my job in a Christian marriage?
As stewards of our marital relationship, we are commissioned to depict an accurate portrait of Christ to the onlooking world. My identity in Christ defines our identity as a husband and wife within the context of marriage. Identity is God’s perspective of me. Intimacy embraces God’s perspective of me, thereby drawing me into spiritual connections. Based on my intimate identity, industry compels me to action. Once I am convinced of my identity, I can be connected in intimacy and be compelled to industry to accomplish His good pleasure. This is what we call the iProcess.
Since marriage mirrors Christ’s relationship with the church, I must embrace my identity as a member of His church. Then I can translate this perspective into a demonstration of my identity as a spouse. Consequently, this realization will move me to a renewed comprehension of the intimacy I may enjoy as a part of the body of Christ that should be reflected in our intimacy as husband and wife. As a result, the conception of my intimate identity compels me to live out my salvation with an awareness of my responsibility as a part of the body of Christ and illustrate this industry within our marriage. Read more about this concept and the purpose of marriage in Marriages that Minister: A Portrait of Christ and His Bride.
This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.Ephesians 5:32 NLT
- Do I believe that only Christians can have a good marriage? Why or why not?
Excerpts from Marriages that Minister by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis. Available from your favorite book retailers, including Amazon and Redemption Press. (As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.)
Read more about Marriages that Minister: A Portrait of Christ and His Bride.
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1 Bob Dylan. The Times They Are A-Changin’. (Warner Bros. Inc., 1963, 1964; renewed by Special Rider Music, 1991, 1992).
2 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 344.
3 Oxford Dictionaries Online, s.v. “minister,” https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/minister.