In my wife at home I have a lovelier adornment, one that God has given me and adorned with His word beyond the others, even though she may not have a beautiful body or may have other failings. Though I may look over all the women in the world, I cannot find any about whom I can boast with a joyful conscience as I can about mine: ‘This is the one who God has granted to me and put in my arms.’
— Martin Luther
One of the truths that comes from reading the first marriage account in Genesis 2 is that marriage is a gift. Even the way the narrative reads forces us to think about life without marriage. When God creates humans, He doesn’t just plop them all down in a little community. He creates Adam. Then He declares Adam on his own as: not good. This isn’t God failing to recognize that this was going to be an issue and fixing His mistake; God designed Adam alone so that Adam (and everyone after him) would recognize the gift of companionship as just that: A GIFT. This is echoed later in the book of Proverbs, when it tells us:
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18.22
Marriage is obtaining favor from the Lord. This becomes an important truth for those who find a spouse as well as those who do not.
FOR THE MARRIED PERSON | this means that the person God has joined you with is much more than the one you settled on. Your spouse represents much more than the result of rational decisions. This is the person gifted to you from God for the purpose of sacrificial love. You should be awed by the fact that God has delegated to you the care of one of His kids; He is loving your spouse through you. This makes the call of Ephesians 5.33: let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband, much more than solid marriage advice. It makes loving your spouse about worshipping and reflecting your Savior. If you think that marriage is simply a right, your spouse will become an entitlement. You will not sacrifice or give, more likely, you will see this person as keeping you from the happiness you deserve. Marriage as a gift forces you to see that you don’t deserve what you have; take care of it.
FOR THE SINGLE PERSON | this means that not having a spouse does not make you less. But if marriage is a gift, why isn’t God giving this gift to me? Marriage is just one of the many gifts that God bestows; not having one gift does not make you giftless. It simply means that your life (at least at this time) is not about loving a spouse, which opens you up to the possibility of worshipping God in numerous ways that married people cannot. You are receiving gifts from God that married people are not. If you think that marriage is simply a right, then not being married will become an injustice. You will be overwhelmed with the desire to be married and it will keep you from enjoying the gifts of singleness. Marriage as a gift allows you to focus on the gifts that you have.
The goal of the Christian life is sanctification (becoming more holy) through the continual worship of God. This sanctification comes through seeing your sin and God’s grace in tension. You deserve wrath, but you receive gifts. Marriage is an example of this.