Three Gifts of Marriage: Companionship, Passion and Purpose
When marriage is done well, couples not only experience the wonderful emotional and physical intimacy of being “on the same page” but also frequently sense a deeper, more profound, spiritual connection. While some couples think of it as being “soul-mates,” there is an aspect to it that is qualitatively different—one that both grounds a relationship and gives hope for the future. While each couple will experience this differently, there is little doubt that there is a more to marriage than meets the eye—the very design and purpose that points to marriage as being a gift of great, even eternal significance.
The Gift of Companionship
In the Bible, the greatest book ever written, we read of God’s glory and his passionate love for his creation. The first couple enjoyed his fellowship, walking and talking with him in what was no doubt the most incredible garden ever. They knew him, and they knew each other. They were confidants and companions, blessed with affection and pleasure in each other’s company. The opening sentence of their marriage vows —“bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”— illustrates the supreme joy of being connected together as one. Analogies throughout both the Old and the New Testament tell of God’s love for us as a husband’s love for his wife, comparing heaven to a wedding banquet, and where the ultimate bridegroom, God’s only Son, was sent to die on the cross for his bride, the church.
The Gift of Passion
One of the greatest song ever—the Bible’s Song of Songs—was composed by Solomon, the wisest man who had ever existed. In it he extolls the supreme bliss of an intimate marriage, describing a love and attraction that is both intense and deep. Solomon portrays the profound preciousness of love—its beauty, delights and overwhelming power, and says all that one possesses cannot purchase such love— it is God’s gift to us, manifested in its fullest form in our marital unions, and is both passionate and companionate.
The Gift of Purpose
The Apostle Paul declares this profound and marvelous gift to be the “great mystery” finally revealed. It is the union between Christ and his people, as one flesh. Such companionship and intimacy is a profound gift to be marveled at and enjoyed, bringing contentment and happiness. And in so enjoying, we bring glory to him—the creator of perhaps the greatest gift ever.
It is thus no surprise that when we ask people what makes their life meaningful or what is necessary for their happiness, among the most frequent answers given is a satisfying, close relationship with God and with others. Being closely connected to and affectionate with another brings contentment and joy, and at times profound happiness and bliss. These pleasurable states of well-being and connectedness are characterized by sense of meaning and belonging to something bigger in life.
And this then is the ultimate purpose and meaning of marriage—it is God’s gift to us, designed to bring us joy and Him glory. With this gift He covered our aloneness, providing us with the hope of companionship, and the joy of connected intimacy—with Him and with one another.
"At last!" the man exclaimed. "This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!
Genesis 2:23 (NLT)
Christopher Grace serves as the director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and teaches psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. He and his wife, Alisa, speak regularly to married couples, churches, singles and college students on the topic of relationships, dating and marriage. Grace earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Colorado State University.