What is marriage?

Most single Christians want to get married; few have received the gift of celibacy. But to make sure you have a strong marriage, you need to commit for the right reasons. Let’s see what the Bible says about it.

Falling in love and feeling butterflies on dates are beautiful feelings, but we should not decide to get married just because we have those emotions. This milestone in our lifetime must also be well thought out. According to 1 Corinthians 13, love is not an emotion, but rather a series of actions, decisions, and self-sacrifice. Love is patient, kind, does not envy, or boast is not proud. It does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. That is far from the idea of love at first sight!

We need a lot of love to support a marriage. Not the one portrayed by Hollywood, but the one of 1 Corinthians 13. This deep love often develops after marriage, because it is in everyday life and in the face of difficult family decisions that we must choose not to keep records of wrongs, not to be easily angered or not to be self-seeking.

If marriage is not the culmination of a romance, then what is it? The first verse that speaks about the union between a woman and a man is Genesis 2:18: “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (ESV) The idea of marriage came from God Himself in seeing the need of man to have someone at his side. Someone to help him, but not just for that.

In Proverb 2.17, we see a woman with a bad life. We read, “Who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God” (ESV). Marriage is a commitment before God, where two people commit themselves to be the companion of the other, “his friend”, for the rest of their lives. The word “friend” in this verse comes from the Hebrew word “allooph” which is often used to describe a person’s relationship with their pet or livestock. In short: “I take care of you, I protect you, I give you the best possible living conditions, and in return, you love me and meet some of my emotional needs.”

Of course, marriage between a man and a woman is much more than the company of a pet! But here we understand the idea of giving and receiving. We should always keep in mind that to have the best marriage, we must always give more to the other than we expect to receive. So, if both think that way, both come out winners.

Marriage, at its simplest definition, is a solemn commitment before God to be the best friend of the other for life, no matter the circumstances. Of course in a marriage, there is also sex, life projects, possibly children; what distinguishes the friendship between a husband and a wife from all other friendships. But the basis of a marriage is an unconditional friendship. That’s why it’s so important to develop a strong friendship before marriage.

So, why get married? Because we want to care, protect and help our friend for the rest of our life. We are ready to make a promise to God Himself that we will remain friends with this person, regardless of their mood swings, and that we will continue to serve them until death separates us.

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