This above was sung by Frank Sinatra in the 50's but if you grew up in 80's you might recall it as the intro of the FOX tv sitcom Married with Children - one of America's favorite dysfunctional families. Although I felt the show itself was pretty lame there is a great truth coming from that song. Love and marriage are inseparable entities and were meant to go together. That's why before we can understand God's purpose for marriage I think it's important to first have a basic understanding of love.
French novelist George Sand once said, "There is only one happiness in life -- to love and be loved." There is great truth in that statement because God made every single human being unique from all other creatures in that we have this innate desire and longing to love and be loved. It is the most basic need of the human experience and perhaps the greatest evidence that a loving God does exist and did create us and in our greatest moments of love we are but imperfect facsimiles of His loving nature.
Regardless of our race, gender, sexual preference or personality type each and every one of us is born with an innate desire to love and be loved. We have some good friends who adopted a wonderful boy from China who spent the first 8 years of his life in an orphanage where apparently he received little attention. Despite spending the last five years in a loving home he will still occasionally repeat a lifelong habit in which he wraps his arms around his torso and twists violently from side to side. He does this subconsciously and doctors have concluded that it likely comes from the fact that he was rarely held as a child.
So if there is a God and if He is loving and if He did create us why did He create us with such a powerful desire to love and be loved? Why not just leave love out of it and make us with a basic instinct to procreate like all the other creatures of the animal kingdom? Doesn't love just complicate matters?
Eccl 3:11). This is why St. Augustine said: "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee." This is why the great philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."
Last year I put together a video which compares secular loves songs to some Christian worship songs. I was amazed at how often times there is very little difference between the two - in fact sometimes the lyrics are the exact same. Both cry out for love and both long for a transcendent love to fill the void in our hearts but only one has the true answer.
If God is the only one who is capable of filling the "love void" in our hearts than if you think about it, it is good and gracious of Him to ask us to love Him first and foremost. Suddenly, the first commandment in the Old Testament: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex 20:3) and the greatest commandment in the New Testament: "Love the Lord your God with all you heart, mind, soul and strength" (Lk 10:27) no longer seem like capricious mandates of an insecure and insatiable God but good and gracious direction given by a Creator who knows us best and desires our best. Oswald Chambers said it best when he wrote:
"God nowhere tells us to give things up for the sake of giving them up. He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having - life with Himself."At this point you might be saying, "Okay, I get it already, God created us to be in a love relationship with Him and we won't ever truly be happy until we enter into relationship with Him...
So what does all this have to do with marriage?
Well, here's where I'm going with this. I believe God did not ultimately create marriage to teach us what it means to love another person. I believe God created marriage to teach us about His great love towards us. In other words, marriage was never meant to strictly be a horizontal affair. God did not create marriage to be just about you and your spouse, you and your dreams, you and your happiness. God created marriage to be vertically significant - about you and Jesus, you and the gospel, you and God's glory. When you realize this truth it takes the institution of marriage to a whole other level - from a worldly plane to a transcendent one. Marriage is no longer a selfish enterprise created by man to meet man's needs but a sacred gift created by God to shine the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In my next post I hope to shed more light on how God has done this and further unpack His purpose and design for marriage. Please feel free to leave a comment whether you agree or disagree - as I would love to hear from some of you. Thanks!
For His glory,
Peter & Kim