Marriage is not the goal of the Christian life

Marriage is not the goal of the Christian life

When people get married, you often see a familiar pattern emerging. Instead of spending time with their friends as they used to do, all of their time is now devoted to their spouse. They stop going to parties and their previously-large social circle begins to shrink. It is this phenomenon that the Skyhooks sang about in their 1975 song “All my friends are getting married”:

Well all my friends are getting married
Yes they’re all growin’ old
They’re staying home on weekends
They’re all doin’ what they’re told.

There is something good about devotion to your spouse, of course. And being married will undoubtedly change the way your social life works. Yet this complete withdrawal into a marriage “bubble” reveals something about our hearts. It is like the goal in life is to be married, and once that goal is achieved, you can just enjoy it and work hard on it. Everything else now becomes a distant second place.

Do you see the problem with this? The goal in life for Christians should not be to get married. Marriage is a good gift from God, sure. But so is singleness, in a different way. Marriage was never supposed to be the ultimate thing. Marriage itself is supposed to point to the love of Christ and the church. Jesus himself told us that there will be no marriage in heaven; it is a gift for this life, not the life to come (Matthew 22:30).

Instead, our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (to use the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism Q1). In other words, our focus should be on loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. That is true whatever our marital status might be.

We should not see marriage as the end goal of our lives; we should instead be asking, “How do I serve and glorify God best through my marriage?” Marriage can be a great platform to serve God and other people rather than a selfish end in itself.

While there are many ways to answer this question, let me just give you a few to think about:

  • You should use your marriage to build your spouse up to be more like Jesus. Paul encourages this in Ephesians 5:27. This will mean teaching and learning from the Bible but also living out your faith in front of one another. It will mean prayer and example and correction.
  • You can use your marriage as a way to encourage others. There is no reason why you need to ignore previous friendships and single people when you are married. Sure, your relationship with others might look different. But you can use the stable base marriage has given you to show hospitality and be connected to the wider community.
  • You can consider how to use your marriage to reach the wider world. Perhaps you have a new circle of married friends; are you praying for them and trying to tell them about Jesus? Perhaps you have moved to a new area; are you considering how to reach your neighbours with the gospel?

Marriage was never intended to be the goal of life. We are to serve God, not only one other person.