The Importance of Marriage

Many of us have experienced weddings. Friends and family of a happy couple get dressed up and file into a church for a ceremony. A minister escorts a nervous groom to the front of a chapel, followed by his buddies. Bridesmaids glide one-by-one down an aisle, building anticipation for the main attraction. Cue the dramatic pause – possibly accompanied by music to build the expectation – and, suddenly, the doors open swiftly to introduce the bride in all her beauty to those gathered, who now are either holding back tears or grabbing for the tissues (unless they are heartless!).

Isn’t that such a cool moment to behold?

By now you may already be asking yourself what this imagery has to do with anything.  The answer: EVERYTHING.

 [31] “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” [32] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. [33] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

This section of Ephesians 5 should change the way we think during any wedding ceremony (I know it has for me.)! The reason being that its significance is more than meets the eye.

You see, this gathering, which many have become so accustomed to, is meant to portray physically what will one day happen spiritually – that is, the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) to His Bride (the redeemed). On this day, those who are in Christ, through faith, will be united together with Him forever.

From the time God gave mankind the gift of marriage, He meant for it to model the relationship between Christ and the Church.  

[22] Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:22-27)

The apostle Paul puts marriage in spiritual terms to instruct husbands and wives more fully. If Paul were in marital counseling and were giving advice, I imagine he would begin by asking the following questions to prompt a biblical understanding of marital responsibilities: (1) How does Christ respond to His Church? AND (2) How is the Church to respond to Christ? These questions are crucial because they should shape the way married people interact with one another, assuming they are in Christ.

What God has revealed to me over the years has led me to believe that there might be no greater portrayal of the Gospel message than the relationship between husbands and wives. When marriage becomes less about temporal pleasures and more about the emulation of Love that went to the cross to die on behalf of the undeserving, then we are able to display the work of God in our lives beautifully, in a way that only this particular union can. 

It saddens my heart when I see marriages failing to live out this divine purpose. This holy establishment was set forth by God to be a demonstration of His unconditional, unending, faithful love – a love that was willing to die for His beloved. God has eternally pledged Himself to those of us in Christ, which is the precedent by which our own marital covenants derive. When so many Christian marriages end in separation or even continue in mediocrity, it tells me that we have not grasped the fullness of our vows to one another at the altar. Successful, Christ-centered unions are not the norms nowadays. What a shame this is, because this covenantal relationship has the potential to be one of our most powerful evangelistic tools. 

Marriages, and subsequently weddings, are meant to proclaim the Good News until the day the Church is finally united to its Bridegroom. And we will live happily ever after.

Tell this story to the world. And if you’re married, leverage that relationship for the proclamation of the Gospel! 

 

-Sean

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