I want to talk about marriage, and what it is supposed to look like. I’m not sure I have the right idea, but here’s what I’ve got.
Genesis 2:15 tells us that man (and I am speaking of males) are made to cultivate and keep the earth. Men are stronger, able to work longer hours, and naturally desire conquest and meaningful labor. Genesis 2:18-20 says that women are created to correspond to man, to be his help-meet. Genesis 3:16-19 gives us further insight into the purpouse of man and woman. The man is cursed at the center of his purpouse, conquest of the earth. The woman is cursed at the center of her meaning, childbearing and helping her husband.
I say all this to build up to what I believe is the truth, that marriage is created to help man subdue the earth, and fill it with humans. Genesis 1:28 is the first command (a command before sin) and it involves filling the earth (childbearing) and subduing it (cultivation). A man therefore makes both the earth and his wife fruit-full.
In case you suspect that this was only for sinless Adam and Eve, the command is repeated to Noah and his sons after the flood in Genesis 9:1. There is no other way to accomplish this task but through marriage, and I believe marriage has no greater task to accomplish.
Let’s jump to the new testament, not forgetful of that wonderfull book, Song of Solomon, which reminds us of the joys of marriage. Love is great, and I would be a fool if I tried to deny it. God loves pleasure, and I agree with Him.
1 Corinthians 7 has a good deal to say about marriage, and I encorage you to read it (along with the surrouding passages, and indeed the whole Bible). In this passage Paul encourages believers to remain unmarried in view of the coming tribulation (vs 29) and to seek the best way to serve the Lord. He admits that most people will become married (vs 2, 6-7) and (as he also acknowleges in 1 Tim 5:11-15) that it is good for them to do so.
Reversing for a moment, go to Matthew 19:10-12 where the disciples state that it is better to remain unmarried, and Jesus agrees with them, with the caveat of verse 11. No one should try to stay unmarried unless God has given it.
Turning to logic for a moment, I hope to prove (with an arguement borrowed from J. Busziswski) that the purpouse of the human sexual powers is procreation.
There are two conditions that must be satisfied before it can be said that the purpouse of P is Q.
1. P must actually bring about Q
2. It must be the case that the fact that P does bring about Q is neccecary to explaining why P exists.
In the case of the human sexual powers, they satisfy the first condition, in that they actually do bring about procreation. They satisfy the second condition in that procreation is neccecary to explaining the reason we have sexual powers. Why else would we have them?
There are two other purpouses that are commonly proposed as the designed purpouse of the sexual powers: pleasure, and union.
Pleasure is not the purpouse of any natural power, but it accompanies ALL natural exercise of our powers. Consider an analogy: The purpouse of eating is to take in nutrition, why else would we take strange objects outside our bodies and put them in our mouths and chew them into a pulp and so forth. However, eating is pleasurable, but one would be misleading to state that the purpouse of eating was pleasure. One may say “look at the taste buds, all they do is give you pleasure.” However, they are part of a larger system, and can not be considered individually. Pleasure is meant to encourage the natural functioning of our bodies, but it is not the purpouse of any of the functions.
Union raises an interesting point. To say that union is the purpouse of the sexual powers is half true. It is half true in the sense that “we are not designed like guppies who cooperate only for a moment. For us procreation requires an enduring partnership between two beings who share human nature, but in other respects are very different.” The sexual powers create union because union is required for a family, that is to say, for the correct raising of children. Without the union that the sexual powers create, the significant differences (complementary differences, but differences nonetheless) between men and women would make maintaining a family considerably more difficult. “A parent of each sex is neccecary to make the child, to raise the child, and to teach the child.” Thus union (as well as pleasure) results from sex, but is not it’s end purpouse.
Going back to the scriptures, 1 Tim 2:15 (you knew it was coming didn’t you?) affirms that the woman’s place is to bear children. It is one of the “good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness” refered to in verse 10 of the same chapter. Titus 2:4-5 assumes that young women will be married and have children, as verse 6 continues “young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.” It is merely sober minded to think this way, don’t get drunk on the idea that you can live in some other way.
I have said a lot about child bearing because it seems that our culture, even Christians, have rejected the idea that marriage means children. To somewhat balance this emphasis, I refrence Hebrews 13:4 for the purity of what goes on in the “marriage bed”, Ephesians 5:21-33 for the relations between a husband and wife, and the metaphor of Christ and the church.
Marriage is a great thing, and I hope to participate in it, Lord willing. Let me know if I am decieved in any of this. Above all I long to know the truth, and honor God with what I teach, say, think, and do.