The Meaning of Marriage

Julia and I have the privilege of attending our church’s “Couples Retreat” this weekend at Cedar Springs Retreat Center in Sumas, WA. We’re excited to get away with a bunch of other married folks and to learn from friend and Western Seminary professor Todd Miles as he brings three keynote addresses under the banner “Marriage and the Display of the Gospel.” Here are the titles of Todd’s lessons:

  • A Match Made by Heaven (Genesis 1-2)
  • A Match Made for Heaven (Ephesians 5)
  • A Match That is Heaven (Revelation 19-21)

Thinking about this retreat reminds me of an excellent book by John Piper: This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence. In it Piper writes of the ultimate purpose of marriage: “The ultimate thing to see in the Bible about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory . . . Most ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It is designed by God to display his glory in a way that no other event or institution does.” Where does Piper get this understanding of marriage’s ultimate end? Ephesians 5:31-32:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

In Ephesians 5:31-32 the apostle Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 and then interprets its meaning. Piper explains: “In other words, the covenant involved in leaving mother and father and holding fast to a spouse and becoming one flesh is a portrayal of the covenant between Christ and his church. Marriage exists ultimately to display the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church.”


This is an understanding of marriage far greater and higher than merely “His Needs, Her Needs.” And when we begin to comprehend in some measure this ultimate purpose for our marriages it will give them the deep significance God intended. This understanding of marriage, furthermore, will motivate us to work hard by God’s grace to see marriages flourish. Indeed, God’s glory is at stake.

Praying and trusting our retreat will strengthen our marriages toward this glorious, ultimate end.


[image credit:]

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