As I scrolled through one of my social media accounts the other evening, a picture of a young man playing golf came across my screen and caught my attention. The sun was shining, he had all the right gear, it looked like a world-class golf course, and, if I’m being honest, it seemed like a situation I’d like to be in myself! The caption under the picture read, “Why are people getting married these days anyway? I’d rather be out on the golf course.” You see, it was public knowledge that this professional athlete whom I followed on Instagram just so happened to have broken up with his girlfriend not too long before this. Why let that bother him? He was determined to show the world that he was just fine without commitment. It’s as if he wanted you to say, “Look, he’s doing just fine without her!” or “See, he has everything he’s ever wanted wrapped up in his freedom to play golf, live a luxurious lifestyle, and pursue his own passions and desires.” The end of his relationship meant that he was no longer attached to the idea of marriage and he wanted the world to know it.
I don’t know this athlete personally. Maybe singleness is what he really needed in this season. Maybe he’s scared of commitment and his girlfriend was asking too much. Maybe deep down he is broken inside and is trying to numb the pain with golf. I don’t know. Whatever his situation, his post got me thinking about the meaning of marriage. I wanted to answer the athlete’s question, why ARE people getting married? Why does it matter? What is it even? Marriage is something that I have the privilege to counsel others in professionally. I am blessed to experience an amazing and fulfilling marriage myself. But at the heart of it, how would life look if marriage didn’t exist? Why DOES marriage matter?
Curiosity struck me, so I Googled, “Why does marriage matter?” The results were about as endless as you can imagine. From preventing negative effects on children of split or unmarried parents, to better tax incentives, decreased crime rates, more healthy recreational activities, financial stability, a safer and more predictable sex life, better healthcare, and better productivity at the work place, the list went on and on of why marriage, in theory, is a good thing for society as a whole. I cannot say that I disagree with any of my findings, but also felt that the answers were superficial and didn’t really have any substance. They all seemed like good things, but in all honesty, if this was my view of marriage, and I was that professional athlete out there on that golf course, I might be saying the same thing as him.
Marriage is something that is so much different than that to me. It’s not superficial or a good add-on to my life; it’s foundational. As a follower of Jesus, I strive to love and cherish my wife the way that Scripture teaches me. I believe that the Bible speaks into all areas of our lives as people. Some might even be surprised to find out that the word “marriage” actually comes to us from the Bible. All throughout human history different cultures and people groups have given men and women in union to start their own family units, but it was the descendants of Abraham, the Hebrew people of the Bible, who called this practice בְּעוּלָ֑ה (beu-lah), or in English what we call “marriage”.
You might be asking, “Why does it matter where the word ‘marriage’ came from?” It’s important because the origin of the word clarifies what the Bible says marriage is all about! Isaiah 62:4 shows us that marriage (or beu-lah) was a word that was used to signify the blessing and relationship that God shared with his people Israel. The word or idea of marriage wasn’t just a general term that the Hebrew people used or a ceremony that they celebrated but was, in fact, a bonding of a man and woman together in a relationship that reflected the everlasting covenant that God made with his people! Marriage was an intimate and collaborative union between a man and woman where they joined physically and spiritually with one another in the covenantal bond of God.
Marriage from this perspective changes everything! When I think about God, His covenantal promises, love, and faithfulness, I see something that is so much bigger than myself. He is faithful when we are not. He loves even when we are at our worst. He makes a way. He showed his love even to the point of his Son’s death on the cross for us. What God shares with his people is all-encompassing, never-ending, and grander than anything we could possibly imagine or dream. THIS IS WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS!
When a man and woman are united in Christian marriage they enter into something that is so much bigger than themselves. This covenantal bond propels the couple out into the world as an active representation of all that God has done for them! There is grace, forgiveness, acceptance, hope, and a reason to live for something greater than just themselves. This bond gives each person in the couple the ability to be the best version of themselves. The lifegiving refuge that happens in their home and relationship propels each person out into the world in the fulfillment that can only be found in the bond that their marriage shares.
It’s my prayer that if this professional athlete I talked about continues to pursue relationships, that one day he might be able to experience this type of joy in marriage. It’s something that is so much bigger than the superficial things that our society normally attributes to it. My prayer is that Christian marriages everywhere show a love that is so countercultural that others cannot help but see the difference that it makes, how valuable it is, and what a blessing it can truly be.
This leads me to ask, what is YOUR view of marriage? Where is your marriage today? What do you dream for your marriage to be like in the future? My prayer for you is that it can be a place of covenantal overflow. Lean on God together. Pray and worship together outside of church services. Take the time to invest in one another. Turn off the TV, put the phones down, and spend time talking together. Ask the hard questions and talk about how you’re really doing. Lift the other person up, honor them, and bless one another in sacrificial ways. I promise that if you trust God, love one another like He does, and invest deeply in your marriage that it will be the greatest blessing that you can imagine.
Darin Schug serves as a Pastoral Counselor at Desert Streams Christian Counseling. He earned an MDiv at Moody Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree in business management from Michigan State University. He enjoys spending time with his wife Christina and their two girls, helping on his family’s farm, watching football, cycling, and eating Mexican food on the weekends.
Photo by Sandro Crepulja from Pexels