This past weekend I had the privilege and honor of performing a wedding for a couple. Marriage has to be one of the most beautiful pictures God has given us to show His relationship to His people. Marriage is also one of my favorite subjects to talk about.
For my premarital preparation with the couple I decided to use parts of John Piper’s book “This Momentary Marriage” as the required reading for the couple. There are many other great books, materials, and resources I could have used, but I really like Piper’s explanation of the foundation of marriage. Whether or not I will use other resources in the future, I will probably always at least use the biblical principles in the book in my premarital counseling and in my wedding sermon.
2 Main Principles I Like About Marriage
1. Marriage is the doing of God
Marriage is from God. He created it. He ordained it. He gave the first bride away, and He performed the first wedding. Because of this truth, we can go to His word and get His understanding of marriage. In Genesis 2, God caused Adam to fall asleep. He took a rib out of Adam’s side. He formed woman. Then, after Adam woke up, God presented to Adam his wife, whom he named Eve. Eve was a perfect match for Adam.
Marriage is something God does, not a pastor, priest, or justice of the peace. Because He is the one who does the wedding, then it is imperative that we honor God by honor His design & purpose for marriage. God’s word reveals that marriage is to be between a man and woman for life. When He joins two people together, man is not to seek to undue what He has done (Matthew 19).
2. Marriage is the display of God
According to Ephesians 5:22-33, God created marriage to be a picture of Christ’s relationship to His church. Christ is shown as resembling the husband and the church is shown being the bride. This picture is seen throughout Scripture. With this being true, it gives a much deeper meaning to marriage than simply two people in love. It shows commitment, permanence, sacrifice that is often an ignored subject in most wedding ceremonies. Marriage is not a contract to be broken at will, rather it is a covenant that is to be broken only by death. This is an important truth that should be proclaimed at weddings, and reminded often in the church.
Therefore, staying married is not mainly about staying in love, but keeping the covenant one makes before God to their spouse on their wedding day. Being a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church, each spouse is to seek to display their part of the picture.
The husband is to sacrificially love his wife, even be willing to lay down his life for her, as Christ did for His church. He is to physically and spiritually protect and provide for her. He is to nourish and cherish her by physical presence and provision, as well as spiritual presence and provision by leading her to God’s word. This leading includes family/couple Bible study and prayer, as well as corporate participation in the church. As Christ, who is the bread of life (John 6), nourishes His church with His word, the husband is to lead his family to the word of God. As Christ, who is the good shepherd (John 10), cherishes His flock (church), the husband is to protect his wife physically and spiritually. The husband is to display Christ by being the first one of the couple to humble them self in the midst of couple conflict, as Christ humbled Himself and became a man so to reconcile us to God. The husband is to forgive his wife as Christ has forgiven His church. Forgiveness in marriage is not to be based upon whether the other spouse deserves it or not, but based upon displaying Christ who forgives, not because we deserve it, but simply by His grace. So, the husband is to display grace to His wife in the same way Christ has shown him grace. Now, this does not mean the husband is perfect. Actually, far from it. But, a husband who seeks to display Christ in his marriage will seek to treat his wife like Christ has shown His church.
But, what about the wives? How can they display God in their role. Well, Scripture says that wives are to submit to their own husbands as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). Many people struggle with verse, but it is mostly because they misunderstand it. Since marriage is about putting the relationship of Christ and His church on display, and the wife is pictured as the church, it only makes sense that she would take a submissive role. She displays God in her marriage by submitting to her own husband as the church is to submit to Christ. Now, what is different with a husband and a wife is that the husband is not perfect like Christ and the wife is equal to the husband unlike the church is to Christ. The point is that each are to live in their distinctive roles in order to reflect the image of Christ and His church. On another note, if a woman is married to a man who honestly seeks to live like the paragraph above, why would they not want to submit to a man like that? A husband who seeks to display Christ in his marriage, the real question for the wife is not why submit, rather, why not? Now, many ask questions about submitting to a husband that is not honoring Christ. Because this post is more about the image versus all the details, I will not get into answering this completely. To note quickly, for sure a wife should never follow her husband into sin, or commit sin because he asks her to. For another part of the answer see 1 Peter 3:1-6.
So, if a marriage is treated by both spouses as the doing of God and the display of God, divorce will never occur. Why? One simple reason. God never divorces His church. He is completely committed to loving, nourishing, providing, protecting, and forgiving His church. A couple committed to display God that way in their marriage will never leave or forsake the covenant they made on their wedding day. This does not mean it will always be easy or even joyful. But it does mean it will be God-glorifying, and it is this that satisfies the human soul: glorifying God. So, why is there so much divorce in our world? Mainly due to one thing. We have rejected to build our marriage upon God’s word and sought to build them on another foundation, and when the storms of life arrive, our marriages fall apart. May God’s word be the foundation of your marriage and mine. If it is not, it is not too late to make it so. Begin with humbling your heart and praying to God. Ask Him to show you in His word how you can reflect His glory through your life. Then do it by walking in faith.