God gave us marriage so that he might one day give us to Christ. God gave us wives so that we might see something of the beauty he sees in his church. God gave us husbands so that we might see something of the courage, strength, and love in his Son.
Have you ever wondered why history began with a lonely husband?
Why did God make man, and then pause? Why did he parade “every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens” before the man, before finally giving him a bride, a helper, a queen? In a paradise filled with good, there was one glaring not-good: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
Marriage was a late arrival to the garden, and God clearly meant for it to be that way. With meticulous and patient care, he labored to set this wide and wondrous stage called earth, all so that these lines would reverberate, like a pleasant earthquake, through all he had made:
This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. (Genesis 2:23)
Marriage was the consummation, not a last-minute addition — the image of God in flesh and blood, male and female, intimacy and security and procreation. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them” (Genesis 1:27–28). God holds back marriage just long enough for us to feel how colorless a world without marriage would be. And then the wedding comes, and that mounting tension holding the whole earth hostage suddenly resolves — God makes two from one, and then one from two.
The beauty of marriage, however, wasn’t the inspiration for that first love story. God let the lonely man search high and low, near and far, all in vain, to hint at another love, a higher love, a better Groom.
Why Does Marriage Exist?
God let Adam stand uncomfortably long at the altar of creation so that we would long to meet Eve. Then he waited centuries more before sending his own Son to the altar, so that we would long to meet the Bridegroom and love him when he comes. Through the apostle Paul, God himself tells us what he was doing as he officiated that first marriage:
“A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31–32)
Marriage doesn’t exist just to remedy the loneliness of singleness; marriage exists to tell us that we need Jesus. It’s a living exposition of Christ’s relentless and passionate pursuit of his chosen people, the church — and of the church’s restless ache for him. He would not rest until he had her; she would not rest until she had been found by him.
God calls husbands to love their wives in a way that shows the world something of Christ’s delight in us:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor. (Ephesians 5:25–27)
Likewise, God calls wives to love their husbands in a way that shows the world something of our delight in Christ.