The Biblical Meaning of Marriage
There are many ways to measure a marriage. When asked if their marriage is a “good one,” many couples answer “yes” if in it they feel relationally connected, sexually satisfied, and/or emotionally fulfilled. In short, they consider their marriage “good” if it is meeting their perceived needs and benefiting them in tangible ways. What if, however, the God-given institution of marriage had far more to do with teaching us spiritual truth than simply meeting our temporal relational/emotional/sexual needs. In his short e-book Men, Women and the Meaning of Marriage, David Jones argues that this deeper understanding of marriage is what God had in mind when He instituted marriage in creation order. To put it succinctly, God gave marriage not simply to make us happy, but to make us holy.
Jones calls for a theocentric (G0d-centered), as opposed to anthropocentric (man-centered), view of marriage. He argues that marriage is primarily about two things: mankind’s sanctification (being conformed into the image of Christ) and, even more importantly, the glorification of God. Jones states, “The fact that marriage ultimately entails the glorification of God leads to the conclusion that the Lord did not create mankind primarily for fellowship with one’s spouse, but rather for fellowship with himself.” In fact, because God’s design for marriage demonstrates God’s relationship with His people, it can serve, in some measure, as a visual demonstration of the Gospel. Toward this end, Jones writes, “Marriage is revelatory and, as such, the institution of marriage communicates the gospel.” The God-ordained institution of marriage is so designed to demonstrate God’s relationship with His people that Jones says, “In getting marriage wrong…mankind…is in a very real sense living and preaching a false gospel.”
There are at least a couple of reasons this little book is important. First, it offers clear biblical teaching on the importance of marriage. This is particularly important in light of our contemporary penchant for using a “what’s in it for me” perspective to measure the value of things. Second, it deals with the hotly debated issue of gender roles within the biblical context of marriage.
At only about 20 pages, this e-book is a wonderful, short resource for understanding the biblical foundation for marriage. Some may feel that this little book is written at a level that is a little too advanced for the average reader, an understandable perspective given that this material was originally created as a biblical introduction to marriage for the author’s seminary students. I believe, however, that the book is written at a level that makes it accessible to most readers who are interested in gleaning from its content. It is important for Christians today to understand marriage from a biblical perspective in order to be able to speak to people within our culture (and even within the church) who have a far less than biblical view of marriage. This book will help toward that end. Pastors could use the content of this book to teach on marriage in their churches. Dr. Jones has taught much of the material contained herein in our local church, to the great benefit of those who heard him. I strongly commend this work to you.
Dr. David Jones is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Th.M. program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His other print books include God, Marriage and Family (with Andreas Kostenberger – Crossway, 2010); Marriage and the Family (with Andreas Kostenberger – Crossway, 2012 – a popular edition of the former); and Health, Wealth and Happiness (with Russell Woodbridge – Kregel, 2010).
The e-book, Men, Women and the Meaning of Marriage is available right now for free through the Amazon Kindle store.