God made marriage for two primary purposes. The first reason was to create a relationship between human beings that modeled the relationship between himself and mankind. The second was for more temporary and practical reasons.
The Spiritual purpose for which God made marriage
The first and spiritual purpose for which God designed marriage is found in Ephesians 5:22-33.
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
God meant for a husband and wife to model the relationship between God and his people, in the New Testament this is represented as the relationship between Christ and his Church. But even in the Old Testament, God’s relationship with Israel was often pictured in prophesy as the relationship between a husband and wife.
Christian Feminists and Egalitarians say marriage is a “partnership of equals”. I don’t know how anyone could read Ephesians 5:22-33 and come away with such an absurd idea. In the model of Christ and the Church, are Christ and his Church equal partners? Or is Christ the head of his Church? It’s a very simple question, with a very simple answer.
God cares about how we build our marriages, he cares how we model the relationship between Christ and his Church. That is why God wants man to model his leadership, his protection and provision in his relationship with his wife. It is also why God wants woman to model the submission and the servant attitude that he asks of his people toward himself.
It is not enough to say “well this works for our marriage”. Is it modeling what God has purposed for marriage? Is your husband following God’s distinct model for him? Is your wife following God’s distinct model for her?
The temporal purposes for marriage
When I say “temporal” purposes I mean temporary. Marriage is for this world and this world alone. Christ is clear in the Gospels that marriage no longer exists in the world to come.
“For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” – Matthew 22:30 (KJV)
But just because marriage is just for this world this does not mean marriage is not important to God. In fact how we perform our marriage duties to our spouse is just as important to God as how we are as parents to our children or citizens of our countries. All of these things are temporary, but they still have great meaning.
You see each of us is born in a different vessel. Some of us are born in a vessel that that has two either an XX chromosome which means we are in a female vessel or we are born in vessel with an XY chromosome which means we are in a male vessel.
Depending on our gender that God has given us, he has given us different roles to play out in this life. God designed man and woman for marriage both in their psychology and physiology and only in a chosen few does he bestow the gift of celibacy which is to be used in service to God.
So our “race” as the Bible often refers to the Christian life, will look somewhat different if we are born in male vessel than in a female vessel. Based on our genders God gives us different obstacles we must overcome and goals we must meet.
God made woman for man
While on a spiritual level God made marriage to model the relationship between himself and his people it is clear from Scripture that God made woman and marriage itself as gifts to man in this world.
“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” – I Corinthians 11:9 (KJV)
This foundational Biblical principle that woman was created for man is often lost in modern teachings about marriage today. But no teaching on Biblical marriage is complete without this truth.
The purposes for which God created woman in her marriage to man
A companion and helper for man
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” – Genesis 2:18 (KJV)
There are definitely some secondary (temporal and physical) purposes for which God made marriage. God made woman as a companion and helper for man. Some have tried to make much to do about the “helper” “ezer kenegdo” saying it usually speaks of God helping.
The fact is God was not made for us, we were made for him. So in the context of Genesis 1, ezer kenegdo takes on a different meaning, because Eve was CLEARLY made for Adam, not Adam for Eve.
The New Testament confirms this interpretation when the Apostle Paul states “And man was not created for woman, but woman for man.”(I Corinthians 11:9).
A person for which to sacrifice himself
“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” – Ephesians 5:25 (KJV)
A great purpose for which God gave woman to man is so that he would have a person for which to sacrifice himself for. Having a wife helps men not to be selfish and to think of another before themselves. When men do not have wives they can often become self centered and selfish.
A lover for man
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children” – Titus 2:4 (KJV)
The phrase “to love their husbands” is a translation of the Greek word “Philandros” which literally means to be “lovers of their husbands”. This is not the Agape (love of the will, love of duty) that men are commanded toward their wives. This is a different kind of love, the Philandros love that women are commanded to have toward their husbands. This is an affectionate love, it pictures a woman showing affection, both physically and emotionally toward her husband.
A mother for man’s children, and caretaker for his home
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” – I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)
In addition to creating a companion and lover for man, God also created in woman a mother and home manager for man. In very much the same way that we as believers go and make disciples for Christ, so to women make children for their husbands. In the same we follow Christ’s leadership in teaching young believers, so to a mother is meant to teach her children, as she is follows her husband’s leadership.
The purposes for which God created man in his marriage to woman
A leader and spiritual guide for woman
“23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” – Ephesians 5:23 (KJV)
“35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” I Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)
A husband is to lead his wife in all areas whether they be matters of discipline with the children, the finances of the home or spiritual matters.
An authority for woman
“24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:24 (KJV)
Women were created not only to need leadership but also to need authority. Not all leaders are authorities over those whom they lead, but the Bible is clear that a woman is under not only the leadership of her husband but also the authority of her husband. Christ when speaking about his churches who collectively form his bride said “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). In the same way that God exercised his authority and responsibility to discipline his first wife Israel and also his second wife to be(his church) so to men ought to discipline their wives in love toward the goal of helping them to be holy.
A provider for and protector for woman
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” – Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)
“nourish” means to provide for and “cherisheth” means to protect. This is why God tells men in Exodus 21:10-11 that if they do not provide things like food and clothing their wives their wives can divorce them.
God purposefully created woman as the “weaker vessel”(I Peter 3:7), so that man would have someone who would need his leadership, his provision, his protection and his love. God designed men to need a purpose, something to strive for, and something upon which to exercise their gifts. So God gave women to men, and he purposefully made them to need a man’s leadership, provision and protection. In the same way that God wants to be our hero – each husband should want to be his wife and children’s hero.
God made marriage for the spiritual purpose symbolizing the relationship between God and mankind with man symbolizing God and woman symbolizing mankind.
In the same way God lovingly leads, protects and provides for us as his people so a husband ought to do these things for his wife. As Christ sacrificed himself for his church so a husband ought to sacrifice himself for his wife not enable her sin, but to help her to be holy and to help her and himself to model the relationship of God and his people.
Likewise in the same way that God desires his people to love him, reverence him and submit to and obey him so to wives should do these things toward their husbands. A wife should submit to her husband “as unto the Lord”(Ephesians 5:22). She should reverence her husband as her “master” as Sarah did Abraham(I Peter 3:6).