Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Marriage Matters: God's Purpose in Marriage

In a day when our culture is embroiled in controversy over the definition of marriage it is particularly important for Christians to embrace the inseparable definition and purpose of marriage as presented in the bible. For a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24. Marriage is being a one-woman man and a one-man woman joined by covenant vow between one another and God. This covenant vow is the same language of oneness that God uses in Exodus, Leviticus, Jeremiah, etc. when He says I am your God and you are my people. I am yours and you are mine. Marriage is an irrevocable promise that pictures the faithful relationship of God with His people.
Ephesians 5:31,32 goes on to say that marriage represents the relationship between Christ and the church. This new covenant is Christ's leaving his Father and taking the church as His bride at the cost of His life, and holding fast to her in a one-spirit union forever, a representation and reflection of the spiritual union between Christ and the church.

So what's the problem? The two people who marry and the sin that they bring along to the relationship. Few of us accept proposals of marriage with the ultimate goal of reflecting the covenant relationship of God with His people and Christ with His church. Or of displaying in our lives God's character traits and attributes. It would seem that in our selfishness (and foolishness) our thoughts center more on marrying someone who will meet my emotional, financial, and physical needs while attaining a suitable social status and raising a houseful of mini-me's. Annie in "Sleepless in Seattle" called that dream magic. We know it can be more like the Bermuda Triangle. We are swimming in dangerous, swirling, shark-filled waters!

Many of you have probably read Tim Keller's wildly popular article entitled, "You Always Marry the Wrong Person." read it here Part of what Keller says is that we search for Mr. or Miss Right who will marry us as we are and yet with wild expectations that each of us will be happy, healthy, interesting and totally content with life and one another. But how can two selfish, sinful, somewhat neurotic individuals find such paradise possible? This is reality. This book cover is not.
Why didn't God warn us that marriage with another would be so hard at times? Actually, he did. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife and they were not ashamed. Genesis 2:24,25. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eye and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave it to her husband with her and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves covering. Genesis 3:6 and following. Though Adam and Eve were perfect and perfectly beautiful before the apple incident, their lack of shame in their nakedness was not entirely (or even mostly) due to their beauty. They were unashamed because they were experiencing the one-flesh covenant union that was a perfect representation of God's relationship with them. They were not ashamed because there was nothing in their hearts, thoughts, or actions to shame them or bring shame to them. In the post-apple world they became self-conscious because the foundation of their relationship had collapsed and the perfect security they had known in marriage was gone. The realization of this was experienced in sensing shame in their nakedness and subsequent need for covering. Adam and Eve thought that they could provide their own covering for sin and God in his judgment and mercy showed them otherwise. He clothed them which both affirmed their understanding that they had sin that needed covering and He covered them in a way that only God could do, by the shedding of blood to cover sin. I love what John Piper says in The Momentary Marriage. "Clothing is not meant to be an advertisement for what lies underneath it. Clothing is meant to direct attention to what does NOT lie underneath." This covering points to the day when God will solve the problem of our nakedness perfectly and permanently by the shedding of the blood of the perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ.
This brings us to the next purpose in marriage mentioned in Marriage Matters. Our husbands are to love us as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church not having any spot or wrinkle. Ephesians 5:25-27. Jesus is in the business of changing me and he uses my husband in that work. The friction of two individuals even united as one, living side by side, years on end, serves to grind off the sharp corners and sand the rough edges (and that's being polite) in order that one day we will stand before the Lord as Tim Keller calls it, as our "glory-selves."  We can be assured that God will finish the work. He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6. And we will both be the perfect completion of that glimpse of future glory that we see in one another now. 1 John 3:2. My goal, therefore, should be to help my spouse love Jesus more than my spouse loves me. God's purpose in marriage is to show the world what enduring, sacrificial, Christ-washed love looks like. Any lesser goal is just playing house.


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  2. Good stuff Shirl. I feel like marriages are falling apart all around us. Maybe it is because we are officially the pastor and wife now, don't know. But, whew! Thanks. Love to you and Mark. Mandy

    1. I'm so sorry I didn't see your sweet comment. Thank you so much. If the posts help, encourage or offer the least instruction, I'm so grateful. Hope y'all are well. Post some pics of those babies soon. Love, Shirley