I’m thinking about marriage today. Ben and Elsa will be getting married here among us this coming Saturday, June 30. And Aundrea and I were married 22 years ago today, the day I’m writing this (Friday, June 22).

The Bible presents a compelling and instructive vision of marriage that you’ll find nowhere else among the religious or therapeutic literature of the world. In the ancient world, marriage was utilitarian. To be worthwhile, it had to serve some practical purpose—political alliance, social status, financial gain. Intimacy and companionship could be sought out elsewhere. But in the Bible, your spouse is your most intimate friend. Proverbs 2:17 uses a word for spouse which most translations render “companion” (“partner” NIV). It comes from a Hebrew root meaning “to teach, to learn” (cf. “guide” KJV), conveying the idea of the one person whom you’ve learned better than any other, the person you know most intimately. It’s a picture of marriage where your spouse is your very best friend.

This is what marriage was meant to be from the very beginning. Remember Adam’s words when he saw Eve for the very first time? “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” The instant he laid eyes on her, he instinctively recognized that here was his own flesh and blood. He had just named all the other creatures in the garden, but none of them suited him. But in this “woman,” he had found his perfect match, his equal, his home.

Why do two people get married? In the original model handed down to us from Adam and Eve, we marry this specific person because we’ve surveyed, as much as possible, all the other creatures in God’s world, and suddenly God presents us with one who is special, one who strikes a deeper chord in our soul than anyone else. We see, in a sense, someone who is “flesh of our own flesh and bone of our bones.” To be married is simply to make official what your heart has already discovered: that in this total stranger, you have found a long-lost individual who is somehow your own flesh and blood. Your perfect match. Your best friend.

The Bible draws the obvious, natural, and beautiful conclusion to this experience: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).