Is Marriage Still Important?

As our society continues to become more secular, the biblical model of the family continues to be marginalized. One of the ways in which this has become evident is in our culture’s view of marriage. The Bible clearly teaches the following about marriage: Marriage is between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24). Marriage is to last until one of the spouses dies (Matthew 19:1-9; Romans 7:2). Intimacy is reserved for marriage (Matthew 5:28; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Hebrews 13:4).

Two false ideas about marriage are now especially popular and increasingly commonplace in our society: (1) Marriage may include two partners of the same gender. And, (2) Those couples wishing to live together may side-step marriage by merely cohabiting. According to the Pew Research Center’s recent findings, as discussed in The New York Times, “[M]ore than half of all women aged 19 to 44 who marry for the first time have lived with their husbands before walking down the aisle.” The Pew research also shows that millennials are more likely than any previous generation to cohabit prior to marriage.

Cohabitation is increasingly popular among older Americans. The number of people over 50 who cohabit with an unmarried partner jumped 75 percent from 2007 to 2016: “The number of cohabiters over age 50 rose to 4 million from 2.3 million over the decade … and the number over age 65 doubled to about 900,000.” Many of these couples are divorced and plan not to marry again.

Couples who cohabit rather than marry are hurting themselves tragically, and we want to lovingly help them see the blessings God has in store for them. Notice three things:

  • Couples who side-step marriage are missing God’s approval of their relationship. God’s approval is simply the most important aspect of any human activity or relationship, because human success and flourishing occurs in the context of God’s approval (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Matthew 5:3-12).
  • Couples who side-step marriage are missing the blessings associated with filling God-ordained roles in marriage. There is no substitute for a the “no-matter-what” commitment of marriage. There is no substitute for a husband and father who loves his wife as Christ loves the church, or for a wife and mother who submits to her own husband, as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-25; cf. 1 Peter 3:1-7).
  • Couples who side-step marriage are missing the security of guaranteed support and care. For example, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Gerontology showed that cohabiting partners were less likely than married partners to receive care when their health failed.

A society abandons the God-ordained institution at its own peril. May we always support for the biblical doctrine of marriage.

- 2017