The Secondary Primary Purpose of Marriage: Companionship

Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31-32 show that the primary, or ultimate, purpose of marriage is to image the covenant union of Christ and His church. Beyond that, Genesis makes clear that another major purpose for marriage is companionship. I think that Scripture’s emphasis on companionship in marriage warrants calling it the secondary primary purpose. Genesis 2:18-20 says,

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him (emphasis added).

This passage is bookended with “helper suitable,” “helper suitable” and with “alone,” “not found a helper” for him. The obvious issue is aloneness. Adam has intimate fellowship with God, but he is without companionship in his humanity.

Between the bookends which identify the problem, the record states that God occupied Adam with naming animals, something that seems totally unrelated. Why?

God saw that Adam’s aloneness was not good, but did Adam? God gave him an object lesson. As Adam named the animals, he learned about genders and gender suitability within species. He could see for himself that on an earth teaming with male-female combos, he was alone. He needed another human, and specifically a gender complement.

Adam’s aloneness was the issue that God emphasized. Adam needed fellowship, communion, companionship. Eve was God’s solution to his aloneness. She was not created to be a baby factory, but to be a companion.

The term “helper suitable” means “fitting help,” “one who completes.” Adam didn’t need just any companion. A duplicate of himself would not complete the essence of mankind. He needed one who would complete him. As a gender complement, Eve contributed characteristics that enhanced their union so that together they accurately imaged God. Man as hermit, man-animal, man-angel, or man-man could not do that. Suitable to him, she made a fitting help in all aspects of marriage, not just procreation. Children are important, but there is much more to marriage than children. Sex expresses gender completion. Not just a method of procreation, it expresses union and intimacy. 

Marriage is God’s cure for loneliness.

Other passages reinforce the truth that second to reflecting Christ’s union with the church, the primary reason for marriage is companionship. Deuteronomy 24:5 records God’s command that newly married men stay home from military service and any other compelling duties for one year. Their priority for that year was to make their wives happy and build a solid foundation for the marriage.

Proverbs 2:17 warns against the adulteress “that leaves the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God.” This verse ties the covenant of marriage to the companionship of marriage.

Through the prophet Malachi God rebuked those who had divorced their wives. He said, “though she is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Mal. 2:14). Besides covenant, companionship is the hallmark of marriage that God cites.

However, a wife must not make receiving companionship her goal. If she does and her husband does not meet her expectations, she will become angry or seek satisfaction elsewhere. She needs to seek to serve rather than to be served, to complete rather than compete. Being a companion is an important way that a wife can glorify God.

Marriage is for companionship.

In Proverbs 2:17 and Malachi 2:14, the word “companion” means “one who accompanies.” How are you at being a companion to your husband? The question is not, is he meeting your needs? Does he listen to you? Does he take you on dates? Does he value your opinions? Being a companion to your husband is not about what he is doing for you; it is about what you are doing for him. Arrange to do an activity he likes. If you enjoy it too, great. If not, make the arrangements anyway. Listen to his ideas about work or his hobby; draw him out with questions to explain even more. Sit with him (without talking) while he watches a favorite sporting event. Frequently serve him his preferred meals. Eat dinner with him every night without the TV or phone. Do the children interrupt? Train them to not interrupt your time and conversations with your husband.

What do you do to be a companion to your husband? Perhaps you have ideas that others could use.

About Linda

Wifing, Singing, Studying, Counseling M.A. in Biblical Counseling Certified by Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
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