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Relationships: The Purpose of Marriage
Why is marriage so important to Christians?
People get married for all kinds of different reasons. For Christians, the importance of marriage can be found in the words of the marriage ceremony in an Anglican Church.
Reason 1: For the couple's mutual help and comfort
"Marriage is a gift of God in creation through which husband and wife may know the grace of God."
In the book of Genesis, the Bible describes Adam, the first human being, as being lonely without a partner. The animals and beasts God had made were not suitable as a companion for Adam. So God's solution was to make a woman - Eve (Genesis 2: 18-22). Christians believe that God designed humans as male and female, equal but complementary beings, each bringing different strengths to a partnership that would benefit both of them. Christians believe that when a man and woman marry, they become united, into one unit. They are better together.
Reason 2: Because it is the place God intended for sex to take place
"The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together in the delight and tenderness of sexual union and joyful commitment to the end of their lives."
Many Christians believe that marriage is the place where God intended sexual relationships to occur. Christians believe that sex is more than just a physical thing: it actually does something spiritual. Somehow it makes two people "one flesh" - that the two people having sexual intercourse are in some deep way joined. Therefore, many Christians believe the only place to have sex is within a loving and committed relationship, which marriage symbolises.
Christianity is sometimes accused of having a low opinion of sex. This is not the case. Genesis 2:25 says of Adam and Eve that they ‘were both naked and they felt no shame.’ God blesses their sexual relationship, inviting them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28) – in other words, start reproducing. The Bible makes it clear that in marriage, sex is a wonderful gift to men and women.
There is a book in the Bible called the Song of Songs which is essentially one long poem celebrating how good sex is. However, the Bible teaches that the gift of sex only truly delivers within marriage and warns against sex in other contexts. In 1 Corinthians 6: 12 - 18, sex outside of marriage - what the Bible often calls 'sexual immorality – is described as sinful. This means it goes against God’s intention for people to live.
Reason 3: It is the best environment for children to be born and raised
"It is given as the foundation of family life in which children are [born and] nurtured and in which each member of the family, in good times and in bad, may find strength, companionship and comfort, and grow to maturity in love."
If sexual intercourse only takes place in marriage, then someone would only conceive children within marriage. Christians believe the ideal place for having children is in a stable family unit with a married mother and father.
- What do you think of these reasons for getting married?
- What other reasons might people have for choosing to get married?