Two Are Better Than One: The Blessing of Marriage
There are a lot of special blessings and advantages in being single. Independence is certainly the chief blessing, and according to Paul, it is a unique gift singles can use for the glory of God (1 Cor. 7:32–33). Far too often single people spend their time waiting for Mr./Mrs. Right instead of enjoying their singlehood and using it for God’s service. Even worse, some single Christians moan about their “plight,” failing to realize that if they cannot be content with themselves, why would anyone else want to be miserable with them?
However, the Bible also teaches that all things being equal, it is a great advantage and blessing to be married. Some disclaimers are in order. Paul pointed out that due to the exceptional circumstance of the “present distress” the Corinthians faced it would be better to remain single, though this was an option and not a command (1 Cor. 7:26–28). Further, you could hardly argue that marriage to Jezebel was a spiritual boon for Ahab. Who you marry will dramatically effect whether matrimony is a blessing.
Nevertheless, for those who are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7), marriage is a special blessing from God. To explore why, consider this statement from Ecclesiastes 4:
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” (Ecc. 4:9–12)
“Two are better than one.” That is why the Lord sent out His disciples by twos. It is why God designed the local church, so that we are not alone spiritually. And most of all, it is the reason God uniquely designed women for men, because “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18).
Solomon explains why this is so. “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” God has assigned each spouse a sphere of responsibility in marriage. According to 1 Timothy 5:18 it is the husband’s primary responsibility to be the provider for the family. According to Titus 2:5 it is the wife’s primary responsibility to maintain the home. With the wife maintaining “domestic tranquility” it is far easier for the husband to pursue his career. And it is only through the hard work of their husbands that women can be free to pursue homemaking as they wish.
To look at this another way, I came from a single parent home. My Mom was a single mom, and had to work outside the home to provide for us. My Mom did a great job filling several roles, but I know how tired she was all the time, and how stressed she felt, and how much she hoped to be a full time homemaker. The point I am making is not that such a life is impossible, but it is more difficult.
Two are also better than one because “if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.” And there will be times in married life when one spouse falls. It might be a financial setback. It might be a serious illness, or the loss of a loved one. Marriage does not eliminate life’s challenges; it makes life’s challenges easier to bear. As a single person, I can testify to the sheer loneliness I feel at times when I am sick, or discouraged, or mourning. I have many wonderful friends whose support I appreciate. But that cannot replace the blessing of a constant, intimate companion.
Two are also better than one because “if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?” Actually, this means more than just keeping cozy on a cold night. By snuggling up to one other you not only keep each other warm, you keep yourself warm. And in marriage, what you give to each other not only benefits one another, it benefits you. Isn’t this what Paul means in Ephesians 5:28–29 when he says: “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church”? Marriage is not a fifty-fifty proposition. Each partner must give all they can, and in so doing they will be blessed even as one another is blessed.
Finally, two are better than one because one can be overpowered, but “two can resist him.” The wise man doesn’t specify who the opponent is here, and it really doesn’t matter. You’ll never walk alone because you have each other, and no opponent, no adversity, not even the Devil himself, can overpower you as you stand by one another.
So two are better than one. But Solomon goes a step further when he says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” There is a third party in marriage, the Lord. And ultimately it is the Lord who is the strength and center of every relationship. It is by His grace that marriage was created. It is by His love that spouses can find strength in each other. And it is because we have committed our lives to Him above anyone and anything else that we love each other as we should. There will be times in every marriage where the other person does not deserve our love, but we will love them anyway. And the reason we will love them is because we love Christ above all, and it is His will that we love each other.
“Two are better than one.” If you are married, why not tell your wife or husband that you are better off for having married them. And make sure you are the kind of husband or wife someone is better off for having.