We Don’t Get Marriage (And That Makes Us Say Dumb Stuff)

As I enter that time in life where my children grow into adults and my friends’ children do the same, marriage is a hot topic. And our grown-up kids are bombarded with unsolicited advice:

“Don’t get married unless you’re ready.”

“Don’t get married too young.”

“Don’t get married too old.”

“Don’t get married and have a baby right away.”

“Don’t get married and wait too long to have a baby.”

Seems we have constructed “perfect parameters” for the major milestones in life and those who fall outside of them are, well, not perfect. Or something.

And I tell you what I think…I think we really don’t get marriage. And I mean even those of us who think we do are so immersed in a secular view of it that we forget. We don’t know what it’s for and so our “advice” becomes empty and even destructive.

The purpose of marriage.

First, marriage is something God made, not us, and so He gets to determine its purpose. The very first glimpse of marriage that God gave us is still our clue into why He created it. Basically, Adam had a big job to do and he needed someone to help him do it.

And what was that big job? The same one we still have. Our complete existence in this life is to make known the glory of God and the reign of Christ on earth.

Not only that, but marriage was the way God would speak to the world about His unconditional love for His Church. He needed a real-life demonstration.

But the vast majority of us think marriage is to make us fulfilled and happy. Or worse, that marriage is something to delay so one can be fulfilled and happy first. Fulfillment and happiness are a common by-product of marriage, but not its purpose.

When we, or if we will force ourselves to deprogram from the movies and books and improper relationships from our lives, then we might be able to reexamine God’s design for marriage which should then equip us with wiser counsel for the young who are entering adulthood.

And as I see it:

  • Marriage is something we need, not just something we desire. That small difference changes how we think.
  • Marriage fulfills important work in the Kingdom of God; it’s not just a rite of passage in our culture.
  • Marriage is good. Marriage is God’s.
  • Marriage accomplishes what singleness cannot. Suffice it to say, that the few who have been called to singleness also accomplish what the married cannot. But for most people, singleness is not their calling. And as such, they are better with a spouse. Even singles live within a context of families. The whole Bible is a family portrait, with all playing an important part in tha portrait.

So, fleshing out our purpose and the purpose of marriage, how should that change our idea of the if, whens and hows?

As children become adults it is right and fitting that they transition into their own families. It’s part of the multiplying we were commanded to in Genesis.  It’s a parents’ job to equip them for this transition.

Just as Adam needed help in his calling, so men today still need help. And just as Eve complemented him, so we still complement our husbands.

What calling? The overarching calling of pointing the world to Christ. And while we do different things and are placed in different situations, we still all are called to unite together in that mission of glorifying Christ and revealing the Gospel to the world.

Practically applying our purpose.

Practically speaking, we work, build, play, pray, disciple and grow together toward that end. And marriage is an integral part of that, with the dual purpose of the living metaphor of the church and her Groom.

When we really, truly get concerned with the business of God, seeing things from His perspective and desiring to carry out the mission His people have been given, it changes our petty parameters and foolish notions of marriage.We don’t obsess about getting married, but we certainly don’t treat it as an afterthought–something to be done after one has found himself. Ideally, a couple grows up together. Hardship and lack of experience is a boon to the success of marriage, not a hindrance.

The Singleness Disclaimer

I know there are young people who long to get married who aren’t. I think we must be sensitive to them and this post isn’t meant to imply that we “push” marriage to the extent we discourage those who are single. I fully believe that while a person is single, they are living fully if they are living for God’s glory. The single years are a fabulous time of serving and learning and growing. It should not be looked down upon. But neither should we encourage our children to think that marriage is second-rate and “full of woe”, encouraging them to wait for the perfect scenario. They are looking to us  for their cues and we should be saying “marriage is a good thing.”

I pray the older generation (that’s us!) will take seriously the responsibility we’ve been given to speak truth into the next generation. We must get our theology of marriage right or the whole course is off from there. Let’s use reason with wisdom as we encourage the young adults around us. Let’s give them hope and a vision of purpose. Let’s share God’s love of covenant marriage and do all we can to encourage it. Let’s talk to them about how they can move toward marriage not about why they should avoid it.

 



22 Responses to “We Don’t Get Marriage (And That Makes Us Say Dumb Stuff)”

  1. Summer says:

    Awesome post, Kelly! This is so true and good to hear. It is so important to replace the lies of our culture with the truth of God’s Word. I’ve actually been learning and thinking about this for some time now and I’m amazed at all the ideas and opinions I have formed over time that go contrary to the truth. I’ve not meant to do so, but it’s so easy to be deceived if we’re not on guard to line it up with the Word and see if it fits or not. Thank you for always uplifting the truth and we’ll pray that it will open eyes.

  2. Guest says:

    If I felt my daughter wouldn’t be happy or fulfilled in a marriage, I’d advise against it. I don’t think that’s a petty parameter or a foolish concern.

  3. Kristen says:

    The apostle Paul likens Christ’s relationship to the Church to marriage. God used Hosea’s marriage to Gomer to illustrate Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him. Marriage is so much more than a social construct that can be adjusted according to society’s whims. It should never be entered into lightly or unadvisedly. It really is a holy thing.

  4. Clapping…standing ovation! Spot on!

  5. Darcy says:

    My husband recently did a series on marriage. An overwhelming purpose of marriage is to bring godly seed into this world and to raise them for Him. I’m not saying that is the only purpose (everything you said is right, too), but it is one that many Christians have seemed to have forgotten.

  6. Jimmy and Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing the truth about marriage. Jimmy and I both shook our heads when we first started reading the article. We and our engaged daughter are all hearing the unsolicited advice you mentioned.
    We plan to share this article with family and friends. And pray God will use it to minister truth to hearts. :)

  7. Dawn says:

    When my second son and his fiancee were engaged, I can’t tell you how many church people told them how awful and hard and difficult and hard and frustrating and HARD marriage is. My son got so so so SOOOOOOO fed up with it all. He asked me so many times, “Mom, why does everybody say this?? Why aren’t they encouraging us??” And they were in their early 20′s at the time.
    It was very frustrating. I don’t understand it myself. Negativity for negativity’s sake?? I wonder…great post here that I wish I could have handed to all those folks.

    • Nicole says:

      I wholly agree that marriage is a good gift of God and should not be postponed. But….it IS hard!

      My husband and I will be reaching our 9th anniversary next month. I’ve done the Fireproof study, I’ve read and applied to my best understanding Eggerich’s Love and Respect, I’ve carefully read through Kelly’s beautiful wife series. I want and crave and NEED the type of marriage that is a symbol of Christ and His bride the church. I have examined my love languages (equal scores in quality time, gifts, and physical touch) and his (equal in acts of service and quality time) and even though we both score high on quality time – he sees quality time as more of the shoulder-to-shoulder thing and I want to talk and share thoughts. I want us to set goals together. I want to truly be his helpmeet and not be guessing my way around his goals. I truly feel LONELY in my marriage and though I’ve attempted to share with my husband the way I feel, it has not been understood by him. Marriage is hard when your husband will SAY I love you but SHOW the opposite in his actions and choices.

      I know marriage isn’t about happiness and fulfillment but I pray everyday that The Lord would show me some fruit from the tears and trying I’ve put in.

      I don’t guess I know what I’m even looking for from this comment – I feel at this point I would give up or do ANYTHING just to have my husband love me back. I don’t know there is anything else I can DO to make him love me….but just accept that my marriage is one of those hard ones that don’t include happiness and fulfillment. But perhaps had I known I was promising to live my life potentially bring forever unloved my my husband singleness wouldn’t have looked so bad.

      • Nicole,

        I’m sorry you are feeling alone in your marriage–that must be an incredibly hard place. I would suggest that you ask your husband if the two of you could have some good, biblical marriage counseling. Most people think of needing marriage counseling only if they are on the brink of divorce, but I’ve actually heard of happy couples receiving counseling just to keep things in check. Perhaps having a third party communicate to your husband the things you need would help him see it differently.

        • Nicole says:

          Well, I don’t consider divorce to be an option. Lately I’ve been just PRAYING that the Holy Spirit would communicate to either my husband or me what needs to change! I’m sure it’s not totally one sided but oh man….it feels like it from my point of view! ha, ha

          On marriage counseling – how do you find a “good biblical” counselor? In a recent conversation with my pastor’s wife – when she found out I stayed home AND homeschooled my children she kinda backed slowly away and said something to the effect of “oooohhh well maybe you need more interaction with other adults.” Which may be so – but I’m pretty sure that my finding a job outside the home and putting my kids in a school would just open up a whole ‘nother book of problems. Being a full-time wife and mommy and homeschooler is so rare (in my community, anyway) that I wonder if a counselor would even be familiar with dealing with couples where the wife found her calling in the home.

          • Sue M. says:

            Nicole,

            Wow…I admire your willingness to hang in there. I’m wondering whether you are familiar with Marriage Encounter. It’s a faith-based weekend retreat (almost always Christian) for married couples, where you can learn new ways of communicating with your spouse that you might never have considered. My husband and I went on a Marriage Encounter weekend in April ’13 and it was fantastic.

            There are Marriage Encounter (ME) weekends all over the U.S., Canada, and beyond. To learn more, just Google “marriage encounter” and/or try these links (among many): marriage-encounter.org or en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_Encounter.

            I’m not giving ME justice in my rather dry description. Please check out the links for a much better feel for ME.

            • Jennifer says:

              “I’m not giving ME justice in my rather dry description. Please check out the links for a much better feel for ME.”

              I’m glad you don’t mind talking so candidly about YOU.

              Oh wait, never mind, read the rest of your post.

      • Guest says:

        Absolutely. Without love and fulfillment, it is hard (or impossible) to accomplish the other goals of marriage that Kelly mentioned. Love and fulfillment are essential to a strong, functioning marriage, I don’t understand why anyone would say otherwise.

      • Jamie says:

        I wonder, and of course I know nothing about your circumstances other than what you’ve written here, but some of the things you say resonate with how I’ve felt as well and so I wonder if your idea of being loved differs from what your husband believes is loving his wife. You know like you’re just on two different ideas of what loving is. I know I’ve felt “unloved” before and when I sat down (and cried) with my husband and asked why he didn’t love me or appear to anyway, he was aghast. I needed him to do A B and C in order to feel loved but he was loving me by doing X Y and Z (which I was NOT appreciating and should’ve been). In our situation it’s just a lot of that men and women thinking differently problem. Now he’s been very receptive to doing some of the things I like but I’m also working (and failing A LOT) at being more appreciative for the things he does do. He really does love me and wants me to know it. Like I said, your situation may be totally different, but perhaps he really does love you but just doesn’t know what to do so that you know it. Maybe you could just try communicating that to him more and maybe look for ways he’s loving you in his own way (working hard at his job, tackling “dirty” jobs like yard care or car maintenance, giving you a break every once in awhile, taking care of finances, just anything that he does so you don’t have to worry about it) and thank him for doing those things for you. I know that has helped is and I pray it helps you.

  8. laura says:

    It is good to start out on the right foot before marriage even begins. Put God first and then all the ducks fall into a row properly.

  9. Jennifer says:

    I think only that first piece of unsolicited advice was necessary.

  10. Kelly L says:

    And my girl will be reading this. Thanks!

  11. Ashleigh says:

    This is beautiful! Will be sending this to my daughter.

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