When God created Adam, he made an interesting observation: The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable* for him.” (Genesis 2:18.) Bringing Eve into the picture, then, was a response to the solitude of Adam, not his unholiness. Again, how could it be about making Adam holy before sin had entered the world (see Genesis 3). The answer, as shown above, is that marriage was not designed for holiness. It was designed for companionship.
Marriage Isn’t for Everyone
Marriage isn’t for everyone. Then again, being single isn’t for everyone either. As Paul said, not getting married can be the best thing for someone’s relationship to God:
I wish that all of you [married people] were [single] as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:7-9.)
This passage makes me wonder about this tweet I read over the weekend:
If we want to be happy in marriage we will accept that marriage is designed to make us holy, not happy. Happiness is a byproduct.
If the tweet had not used the phrase “designed to make” I would have passed over it quickly. But that phrase unfortunately says more than perhaps Mr. Keller meant.
Nothing makes us holy but the work of Jesus. His life, death and resurrection are the means to our being set apart for God, our being made holy to the Lord.
And by [God’s] will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10.)
This is the will of God, that we are holy because of the work of Jesus. To say that “marriage is designed to make us holy” shifts the focus from Jesus and onto our relationships with one another. As important as those marital relationships are to God, marriage was not created (that is, not designed) to make us holy.
God’s will – his design – is that the one sacrifice of Jesus is what makes us holy.
So where does that leave marriage? It exists with the rest of life. In all we do we are to glorify God, whether married or single, working or resting, learning or teaching, nurturing or being nurtured, even eating and drinking.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31.)
That’s what marriage – like all of life – is for. Glorifying God.