HomeFires: What’s Marriage for, Anyway? (Image Vol 10, No 5 – Sept/Oct 1994)

By Matt Dabbs

By Ron Rose

After spending years teaching thousands of couples the “secrets of lifetime marriage,” I was sure I knew what marriage was all about. Then in the middle of a rather boring TV sitcom, a precocious six-year-old asked me, “What’s marriage for anyway?”

“Love!” “Happiness!” “Family!” But my quick response bothered me.

Is the goal of marriage really happiness or is happiness what happens to us on our way to the goal? Is the goal of marriage to be happy or to have a lifelong marriage? Are we a little mixed up, or is it just me?

Do we even care?

After all, most of us just want today’s problems fixed, or we want relief from our pain. We don’t even ask the question, much less seek an answer. In our rush to fix problems and heal wounds, have we forgotten, or perhaps trampled under foot, what marriage is really for? I was in uncomfortable territory, and you know where that leads…to changes, of course.

What is the Purpose of Marriage?

Is the purpose of marriage to fill our years with frequent and passionate lovemaking? Is it to transform the romantically disadvantaged into helpless romantics? Is it to faithfully meet each other’s needs? Is it to raise well-behaved children who will discover the purpose we’ve lost?

Married people do these things, but that’s not why they’re married. If it was that simple, we could read the right book, take the right course, watch the right video, or reinvent the right spouse, and our hopes would be fulfilled. Marriage would never be a problem; the “magic marriage potion” would be available by credit card on thirty-minute infomercials.

Look at This Mess

We have gotten ourselves into a fine mess. Like Humpty Dumpty, we have fallen, and we find ourselves smashed on the pavement. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put us together again. But God can…and he’s real good at it. Some of us, however, have gotten so used to our brokenness and so comfortable with the pavement that we just stay “in recovery.” We are more comfortable blaming our past for the fall than trusting our future too the hands of God.

We’ve lost our way, but we’re having a wonderful time playing with the compass. In order to cope, our self-focused culture disconnects us from our past and clouds our future. So, without intervention, our est plan is just to keep stirring the mess – just keep things moving. We yearn for victory without struggle, intimacy without vulnerability, and pleasure without pain. We are so busy solving problems, losing weight, and improving our six lives that we have no time to ponder the reason for the mess. After all, who can think while we’ re having so much fun?

By concentrating on removing our struggles, meeting our needs, and easing our pain, we keep all the focus on ourselves, and we cheat a generation, or more, out of purpose and meaning. When’s the last time you thought about your destiny, your reason for living, your purpose, your calling? When is the last time you thought beyond yourself?

Questions to Consider

Could it be that my marriage is a lifetime relationship – a partnership – with the person who can best help me unwrap the gift of life? Is it possible that marriage is a testing ground that God uses to nurture growth, shape destiny, and reveal our reason for being on this earth? Could it be that the pain we want so desperately to ease is really a window to the power of God? Is it my role as husband to lift my wife up to be everything God created her to be, to help her find forgiveness in the failures, blessing in the struggles, and healing in the heartaches? Is my purpose to help her hear the voice of God, loud and clear in spite of the distractions? Could it be that my job is to help my wife answer the call of God, regardless of the mess we’ve made?

Yes, to all of the above! And she does the same for me. That’s what marriage is for.

Together, we help each other read and compass and take the next step with the confidence that we are on the Way

Keep the Homefires burning.

Ron Rose

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This author published 1598 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.


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