What is the purpose of marriage?

The institution of marriage is under assault. Too many marriages end in divorce. There are attempts in our society to redefine marriage, and marriage is not given the esteem and respect it deserves. How should those of us who follow the God of the Bible conduct ourselves in light of this? A good place to begin answering that question is to understand the purpose of marriage. Genesis 2 tells us how God instituted marriage and why. Let’s take a look.

Genesis 2:7 tells us that God created man.

Gen. 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Then we read that there was something missing. Notice the word “alone” and the word “helper”.

Gen. 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

So God went searching for a helper, but could not find one.

Gen. 2:19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.

Gen. 2:20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.

Next, God created a companion that was designed specifically for the man.

Gen. 2:21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.

Gen. 2:22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

Gen. 2:23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

Gen. 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Gen. 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

So we see here that the original purpose of marriage was companionship because it was not good for the man to be alone. Yahweh used the word “helper” to describe the ideal companion. Let’s clarify what the Bible means by “helper”. In the English language, sometimes the word “helper” refers to a subordinate, sometimes it refers to an equal. The Hebrew word that the author of Genesis used in the original text of Genesis 2 was “ezer”. “Ezer” does not imply that the helper was subordinate. For example, the author of Psalm 33 used “ezer” to refer to Yahweh.

Psa. 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.

Yahweh is clearly called a helper, but He certainly wasn’t inferior. So the original idea behind marriage was for a woman to provide companionship to her husband and to be a helper, and the concept of helper did not include subordination or submission. The original idea of marriage was a true partnership between a man and a woman.

Unfortunately, sin entered the world (see Genesis 3), and sin affects marriage relationships just as it affects all relationships. Because of sin, it takes work to make a marriage successful. Because of sin, the companionship between husband and wife is not always what it should be. Furthermore, because of sin, husbands and wives have power struggles and have to struggle with headship and submission.

As followers of Yahweh, the one and only true God, we should strive to make our marriages as strong as possible. Genesis 2 contains two concepts that are God’s purpose for creating marriage and that we should strive to make part of our marriages.

1. Companionship: Are you and your spouse good friends? Do you talk with each other and do things together? Do you provide each other the support and encouragement that you both need?

2. Help: Wives, do you help your husband? Husbands, do you accept help from your wife? Do both of you seek to do things as partners as you go through life?

 

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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”