The Church of England recently affirmed its stance on sex and marriage. Part of that statement was that marriage is “for the procreation of children … for a remedy against sin [and] … for the mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.” There’s nothing exactly wrong with what they said, but the statement isn’t quite complete either.
So, what’s missing from the Church of England’s statement?
It’s easy to get hung up on the formal language and miss the point of marriage. In its announcement about marriage, the Church of England also referred to marriage as “a gift of God in creation and a means of His grace.” That definition — a gift and grace — hints at the full blessing marriage offers. Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President of Marriage at Focus on the Family, explains that God’s design for marriage is much deeper and rewarding. “It’s about becoming more like Christ, It’s about mutual enjoyment, adventure, amazing sex, deep connection and intimacy and much more.”
Does God agree with that statement?
God designed marriage. Obviously, He must have some reasons for the lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. And, no matter what churches or individuals say, it’s most important to make sure our definitions align with God’s Word. So, what did God say about marriage?
- God put His blessing on marriage. Genesis 1:27-28 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. … And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ”
- God reserved sex exclusively for husbands and wives. Hebrews 13:4 explains God’s view of sexual relationships: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
- God intended sex to be fulfilling and fun. Proverbs 5 gives us a peek at God’s intentions for married couples: “Rejoice in the wife of your youth … let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”
God’s standards, our response
God designed marriage to be desirable, fulfilling and to draw us closer to Him. Now what? How should we respond?
- Be grateful. If you’re married, thank God for your spouse. God has given you a gift. A treasure. Live a life of gratitude by loving, cherishing and enjoying your spouse. Marriage isn’t always easy. But gratitude helps round off those rough edges.
- Enjoy your marriage. Life gets busy. We get distracted by work, kids, bills and a hundred other daily interruptions. Set time aside to have fun – to play – with your spouse.
- Honor God. We often think of the Christian life as a list of do’s and don’ts. And, yes, those rules form the foundation of a healthy marriage. But God has also given us the freedom to enjoy the blessings of marriage. What if living married life to its fullest is one of the best ways to honor God? It may also be a witness to those who don’t have a relationship with God. Your marriage can point people to Jesus.
We’re grateful that the Church of England has reaffirmed its commitment to God’s design for marriage. We’re grateful for the conversation that decision is creating. As a married couple, you and your spouse can share in that conversation by your example to honor God and live your marriage to its fullest.
Editor’s Note: An update from the Church of England
As we were finalizing this article for publication, we received word that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York have apologized for the hurt and division the guidance has caused, but have not retracted the initial statement.