The Purpose of Marrage
The Purpose of Marriage
Song of Solomon 1:1-17
“We will extol your love more than wine.”
The Song of Solomon is one most misunderstood books of the Bible. The explicit language in the book has caused people and scholars to blush. Because of this, some have questioned its place in the canon, while others have sought to spiritualize the meaning to refer to Christ’s love for the church. However, both conclusions are in error. To understand the book, we need to place it in the overarching theology of God’s purpose for humanity.
From the outset of creation, the marriage relationship and the family are the bedrock upon which all society is built. God designed society to be based upon the union of a man and woman to form the nucleus of the family. This union had a two-fold purpose. First, it is the foundation for accomplishing God’s purpose in creating humans. In Genesis 2:18, marriage provides the foundation for God’s purpose for humanity. Adam could not perform the task alone; he needed a “helper suitable for him.” While both are created in the image of God, the complete fulfillment of God’s purpose to cultivate the earth requires them to work together. The second purpose of humanity is to propagate their linage and fill the world. The growth of the human race through procreation is grounded in the marriage relationship and their offspring forming a new family unit. When their children reach adulthood, they are to leave their parents and create a new family relationship through marriage. Thus, the sexual relationship was confined to marriage, and any sexual relationship outside the context of marriage was a violation of God’s moral standard and a perversion of God’s intent. Thus the marriage relationship is the one institution that was established and ordained by God to be the basis for human society. Furthermore, this relationship was to be a permanent relationship in which the husband and wife are bonded together (the word cleave means to be glued together) in an inseparable relationship.
With the centrality of marriage in human society, it is not surprising that God would write a book dedicated to the nature and expression of the marriage relationship. At the same time, the book talks about the physical relationship that remains in the background, with the primary focus being on the commitment and permanence of love between the husband and wife. From the beginning of the Song of Solomon, the focus is on the value and character of the two individuals expressing their mutual love for one another. As the bride expresses her love, she states, “Your name is like purified oil.” The reference to “name” focuses on the individual's character and essence. Thus she is saying that her groom’s character is of great value and purity (vs. 3). So also, the groom conveys the value and worth of the bride in vs. 11. Thus, the poem begins by capturing their love for one another and the true beauty that resides within the other person.
Marriage is not just a social agreement to share life with another for a specific time, to be cast off when we find ourselves moving in different directions. Marriage is a permanent relationship between the husband and wife to form an enduring bond. It is a relationship that is to be based upon mutual love and respect. The husband honors the wife by praising her (1:9-10, 15). The wife honors her husband by focusing on his positive qualities rather than criticizing his weaknesses (2:3-6). Two lives become one. Two identities become one identity. It is not two individuals sharing a house as they pursue different goals. Instead, they are now one, pursuing together God’s purpose and intent for them. In your marriage, challenge one another in your spiritual growth and prayerfully seek God’s purpose for your marriage as you serve him together.