So why have I spent the last three weeks talking about marriage vows? After all, aren’t there more important, edgier topics that need to be addressed? Part of the reason I decided to examine wedding vows is because I had never taken the time to do it – and I guessed many of you have not either. Since marriage was designed by God to be for life, it seemed fitting to look at what marriage means and what we are committing to when we enter into marriage.
Why is marriage so important to God? I used to think marriage was all about us – that God wanted us to be happy and cuddled up to someone who would love us forever. But after realizing how self-centered that idea was, He showed me through a variety of events that marriage is not about us. So, I was taught what marriage is really all about.
Marriage, like everything else He designed, is about God. The marriage between a husband and a wife is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. Those of us who have repented of our sins and have been made alive through Christ (some would call this born again or regenerated) are the bride of Christ.
Now, this is important: Because marriage is a human picture of a heavenly picture (i.e., what Christ’s relationship is to the Church – and the Church’s relationship is to Christ), how a Christian’s marriage is carried out tells the world how Christ interacts with the Church. If the husband loves his wife faithfully, he is telling the truth to the world about how Christ loves the Church. If the husband treats his wife harshly, he is telling lies to the world that Christ mistreats His Bride. If a wife respects her husband, she is telling the truth to the world how the Church esteems Christ. If a wife undermines her husband, then she is telling lies to the world how the Church subverts Christ.
If the above is true – and, it is – then, we have some serious responsibilities in how we Christians live out our marriages.
It is important not to divorce, because this would also be a lie about Christ and the Church. In divorce, as a Christian, you are telling the world that Christ abandons His Bride – or that the Bride abandons her Husband. This is not a true picture of the marriage covenant. Christ would never abandon His bride and, by the sustaining grace of God, the bride of Christ will not abandon Christ.
While divorce shows an inaccurate picture of Christ and the church, selfish marriages show a distorted image as well. What are we saying to the world when spouses don’t love and respect each other? We are saying that Christ does not love His bride and that the bride of Christ has no respect for Christ. If Jesus was the ultimate servant, and He was, what does it say about Him when a husband is not willing to serve his wife? If the Holy Spirit is a helper, what does it say about His image for women to disregard their husbands and refuse to be a helpmate for them?
Ephesians 5:22-32 is one of the most popular passages in the Bible about the parallel between Christ’s marriage to the church and that of our earthly marriages. Verses 22-24 tell wives to submit to their husbands just as the bride of Christ submits to Christ. Ladies, if it seems hard and unfair to submit to your husband, remember that He has to submit to God and that he is responsible before God for his family. Personally, I’m happy with my role as a woman. ~smile~
The passage goes on to tell men to love their wives in the same way that Christ loves His Bride/Church. This love is sacrificial. Christ’s death was not simply a declaration of love for His bride, but it was to the obedience and glorification of His father, God. Men, when you love your wives, it is glorifying to your Father God.
Ephesians 5:31-33 reads, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” I love how it says that the mystery of becoming one flesh is profound. There is much about the bonds of marriage that we will never understand this side of Heaven; but, I am excited to know that one day He will come for His Bride and we who are His will be joined with Him forever.
Because our marriage relationship tells a story about Christ and the Church, whether the truth or lies, it should inspire us to make the most of our marriages. Even when we don’t feel like it, we should strive to grow closer in our marriages and to adhere to God’s Word so that we can depict the truth of Christ’s love for His Bride to the world. Spend time studying what Scripture says about the relationship between Christ and the Church to see how wonderful it is and how serious God is about marriage.
What marriage(s) have you observed that remind you of Christ’s relationship with His Bride? What did they look like?