Brad Kautz shared some very interesting thoughts on the purposes of marriage yesterday. (I have shared my friend and fellow seminary alum's thoughts before here and here.) He shared the importance and difficulty of maintaining the proper balance between love of God, spouse and self:
"What should marriage be based on? Our culture would say that 'love' is the be-all and end-all of marriage. When two people feel consumed by their love for each other, and perhaps feel complete only with each other, then moving into marriage would seem to be logical step. And while our society has generally held that marriage is the highest form of personal relationship, the Christian intending to enter into marriage needs to remember that as strong as their love for their potential spouse may be, it should not exceed the love that they have for God. In the first commandment Deuteronomy 5:7 teaches,
"'You shall have no other gods before me.'
"It is very easy to put our spouse ahead of God, and to put our needs within marriage ahead of God, and either choice is a form of idolatry. Again, I am not a model of sanctity but as my wife and I moved towards marriage God was gracious to us and moved us to pray that he would reveal his will for us as a couple. That prayer, that God would make it clear to us if we should not marry, and a desire to be obedient to him even if the answer was 'no', was one of the hardest prayers I have ever made. And now, being married, I frequently pray that our marriage would be kept in its proper place before God."
Maintaining that balance can be very difficult to do. I know that it is something that I struggle with at times. We are all sinful and have a tendency to place other things before God. I can easily see how putting other things that are harmful for me before God is bad. But it can be very difficult to see how my love for my spouse or my marriage can take away from my love for God. That is what makes it such a difficult thing to balance.
Brad's final thoughts help me to understand this much better:
"And thirdly, what should the purpose of marriage be? Marriage may feel like the 'next step' we are to take as we journey from adolescence into adulthood. Marriage may provide a framework for the raising of children. Marriage may bring delight to those whom are joined in it. These may have been among the reasons that Seal and Klum married. The last of my reasons was very present when my wife and I married. But there is a higher purpose in marriage, and that is in providing glory to God.
"Question-and-Answer 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism says,
"Q. What is the chief end of man?
"A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
"I think that this statement means that all of our lives should be lived to the glory of God, and perhaps especially marriage, as the Bible, in Revelation 19, uses the image of marriage to portray the consummation of the relationship between Christ and the church."
It is not that any of those reasons that Brad gave as purposes for marriage are bad. Rather that they should all take a back seat to bringing God glory through my marriage. I think that Brad gives some very sound–although not necessarily simple or easy to follow–advice for having a Godly marriage. The whole post is worth reading.