In part 1, Zach observed that marriage can help a person draw closer to the Lord. This week, we see that marriage provides social and material benefits.
Embracing Marriage as a Social Blessing
In addition to spiritual blessings, Biblical marriage provides a man and woman with powerful social blessings. When Adam received a wife, he was no longer “alone” (Gen. 3:18). Through the gift of Eve, Adam was able to enjoy consistent partnership and secure companionship. In Biblical marriage, two people are committed to cooperatively facing all that life offers. A married person enjoys the ballast of sitting on the couch beside a visible companion dedicated to his or her best interests. As a result, Biblical marriage creates a stable expectation that daily living will involve someone to love, honor, respect, encourage, talk to, spend time with, confess to, forgive, cry with, bounce ideas off of, solve problems with, take correction from, give advice to, physically care for, rejoice with, mentally challenge, and emotionally support. In Biblical marriage, isolation and loneliness get replaced with a full range of meaningful forms of human interaction.
Adam’s relationship with Eve provided the social benefit of not only committed companionship but also physical intimacy. Millions of unmarried people enjoy varying degrees of companionship with friends and roommates. What makes marital companionship different from friendship is the type of intimacy; Adam and Eve actually became “one flesh.” Their companionship involved physical intimacy, and thereby the marital relationship was placed in a different category than friendship. Marital companionship is satisfying in a way that friendship is not because marriage has a male-female component that is consistently moving toward a full expression of physical intimacy. Biblical marriage provides a righteous social context for a person to express God-given desires, and this context is particularly beneficial for those with strong passions (1 Cor. 7:9). In terms of physical intimacy, Biblical marriage far exceeds the world’s on again, off again forms of romance. People married in the spirit of the Song of Songs enjoy ongoing pursuit of pleasure. In a Biblical marriage, both parties pledge to a lifetime of regular, exclusive intimacy. First Corinthians 7:3-5 says, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and the wife to her husband. . . . Do not deprive one another.” In other words, Christian marriages enjoy the security of not only consistent psychological support but also consistent physical intimacy.
Embracing Marriage as a Material Blessing
In addition to spiritual and social benefits, Biblical marriage is attended with material blessings. Two sets of possessions and two sets of physical resources are often better than one. The Book of Ruth presents Boaz as a provider and protector for the impoverished Ruth. God used Boaz to lift Ruth financially. Likewise, Proverbs 31 notes that a virtuous woman diligently and industriously provides an additional stream of resources and income for a family. In a Biblical marriage, a wife is concerned with adding to a man’s assets, not consuming them. Together, a Christian couple can pool together their wealth to put themselves in a position of strength for serving God and helping others (Philemon 1-2). Just as the Lord enjoyed many refreshing hours at a family home in Bethany, many saints still enjoy the comfortable atmosphere found in the homes of couples committed to Christ. Biblical marriage creates a context in which the time, labor, and assets of a Christian man and woman join together to bless both the couple and the church at large. On the most basic levels, marriage might mean that a woman enjoys nicer housing and a better car while a man enjoys better cooking and better clothing, but on a higher level, marriage can mean that churches enjoy an ideal place to worship God or dedicated families to carry out a ministry. The material blessings that flow from Biblical marriages often lead to a higher quality of life for both the married couple and the saints associated with that couple.
In light of the spiritual, social, and material blessings associated with Biblical marriage, the church is an ideal position to encourage Christians to embrace the institution. God has combined the choicest of blessings in one package. Although marriage is not the only place where one can find spiritual blessing, social blessing, or material blessing, it might be the only place where one can find all of those blessings so closely tied together. If the church is wise, she will promote this full package of blessings and nothing less.