Should Someone Marry For Love?

Written by Josiah Nichols

July 17, 2023

Bride, Wedding, Church, Groom, Love

This post was originally written for the Premarital Counseling class at Liberty University’s MDiv program. It was written to answer the following prompt, “There are many ideas about why people should get married; Scripture even mentions more than one reason. Some recent publications suggest that marrying for love is a bad idea. Explore this idea using research resources and the Bible to articulate your point of view on this subject.”

Introduction

It is true many people marry for different secondary reasons. Yet in America, it seems most people marry for a primarily selfish reason, “We look to our marriages to meet almost all of our emotional, social, and financial needs–needs we once expected an entire community to fulfill.”[1] This kind of love is a selfish kind of love which is unattainable for humans to fill. This discussion post will seek to prove the kind of love to marry for is a biblical kind of love found in God’s Word.

Garry Thomas provides six signs someone is not marriage material in his book Nine Essential Conversations Before You Say I Do.[2] These signs include: the person is a taker, lazy, lives in a virtual world, unkind, addicted and not dealing with it, and arrogant.[3] The attitude of the average Westerner’s image of marriage fulfills all or most of those warning signs.

Contrast this with the Bible’s definition of love: patient, kind, not jealous or boastful, not arrogant or rude, selfish, not irritable or resentful, and “it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV). This kind of love would require a different reason to get married. That is exactly what the Bible does in its presentation of marriage.

Marriage’s first function is to unite two people together for life and make children to glorify God (Genesis 2:23-25). One commentator on the first marriage observes marriage has male headship, the sexes complement each other, marriage is exclusive, and it is permanent.[4] This function of marriage, as designed by God, provides a set of reasons one should marry. The reasons are to be joined together permanently in an exclusive God bound relationship to someone of the opposite sex who complements them in their purpose for God.

The New Testament makes it more clear Christians need to marry for the right kind of love. The New Testament places the importance of loving submission of wives to husbands who lead with self-sacrificial love at the cost of his own interests and life (Ephesians 5:22-28). The submission of the wife to the husband reflects the churches submission to Christ in everything (vv. 22-23). The husband’s sacrificial love, including washing her with the Word of God, nourishing and cherishing her, even being willing to lose his life for her reflects Christ’s devotion and sacrificial love for His church (vv. 24-33). In totality, Christians should marry for love to share the gospel to the world.

Conclusion

In conclusion, yes, it is a good idea to marry for love; however, it is to be a self-sacrificial love which seeks to honor God in a life-binding, exclusive, permanent testimony to the world that Christ loves his church. Marriages which seek the other person to fulfill all of one’s needs are selfish and sinful imperfections, not true love. Love is not a feeling. Feelings come with love; however, love is a choice seen in attitudes and actions of seeking to honor the other person above oneself. People who marry for love should marry for the right kind of love, not selfish ambitions or felt needs. The Christian should marry another person because he or she believes the other can do ministry and glorify Jesus with them.

[1] Mandy Len Catron, 2019. “Marriage.” RSA Journal, no. 3 (September): 50. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asu&AN=140267088&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

[2] Garry Thomas, Nine Essential Conversations Before You Sy I Do (Colorado Springs, Colorado: David C. Cook, 2021), 25 – 30.

[3] Full Ibid.

[4] Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), 70–71.

 

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