When God created marriage (Genesis 2:20-25), he gave one of the reasons for it in Malachi 2:15b: “He seeks godly offspring.” Another goal was to express, through the relationship of husband and wife, the bond between Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:22-32). Too few books on marriage touch on these points. When these aspects are lost, marriage suffers (although the spouses may still enjoy one another’s company). Let’s look at these two aspects more closely.
In a holy marriage relationship, both husband and wife learn that how they maintain a relationship with one another is exactly how they maintain a relationship with God. When wrongdoing is not dealt with, spousal intimacy suffers. If either spouse hurts the other, confession and repentance are in order. So it is with us toward God.
As the church is to follow the leading of the Lord, so the wife, representative of the bride of Christ, learns to follow her husband’s lead. As we must put off pride and humble ourselves to obey the Lord, the wife learns to do the same for her husband.
As the Lord wants his followers to reach out to the lost and teach them his ways, so the husband and wife work in concert to train up godly offspring. Disciples (and godly offspring) are taught by modeling the traits of godliness as well as learning the word of God.
The church cannot do anything on its own. Without Christ we can do nothing of spiritual significance. Husbands and wives learn that they cannot train up godly children single-handedly – it’s a team effort. For example, when the child sees a loving husband supporting his wife, treating her with respect, and a wife in willing submission to her husband’s authority, the child understands how to respond appropriately to authority (police, teachers, boss, etc.), and work with another person. When the family prays together and reads the word (or a devotional) together, the child may learn that prayer and the word are the source of mom and dad’s strength and unity, and develops important spiritual disciplines early.
A marriage begins with vows of fidelity: “til death do us part.” It begins with a commitment to weather the coming storms. Even so it is with one’s relationship with God. God commits to us; he will never leave us nor forsake us. Only those who are committed to Christ come out ahead. Without commitment, the long-term work never gets off the ground. Great character traits such as empathy, endurance, faithfulness, compassionate care, and trust are formed over the long haul in a relationship where both partners are dedicated to mutual benefit.
Pride has no place in a healthy relationship with God; neither does it help any earthly marriage. In a marriage, we expose our weaknesses and vulnerabilities to another. In a holy marriage we learn of grace where we are loved in spite of ourselves. How true it is of Christians who openly confess to God all their weaknesses – and find their ministry enriched, not impoverished, by the act.
Marriage is great because the one who created it is great. Marriage has tremendous, life-changing, even world-changing potential, when we approach it with God’s goals in mind. Marriage is important because of the illustration it gives of the relationship between God and his believers.
What Do You Think?
a. Marriage is an “object lesson” to help us understand how to work on our relationship with God. If women puzzle over “Why do men do that?”, could it be that God’s ways are mysterious as well?
b. God has lofty goals for marriage. What are the only ways we can live up to them? (Does God have a part?)