When Marriage Hits Home
As some of you may be aware, my oldest child is getting married this week. Her wedding date is June 29th of 2019. Furthermore, she and her soon to be husband chose that date for a deeply personal reason. It was on that date my parents were married almost 50 years ago. No matter what transpires this week one deep burden will be on my mind. That thought? Did my parent’s marriage and has my marriage reflected the Gospel as an example to Kayla.
There is one thing that I wish I could communicate to Kayla and Mitchell above all else. That thought is, recognize that marriage is not about earthly happiness or temporal peace and tranquility. While these things are good in a marriage, they are not the end all and be all. Moreover, they are not always the best way to gauge whether or not a marriage is successful. Oft times the success of a marriage is assayed in how the married couple survives the storms that come their way.
A Marriage Homily: A Beautiful And Humbling Burden
Back in May, on the 12th to be precise, I was blessed to be part of a wedding ceremony for a dear friend and his now wife. I had jokingly mentioned that I would be willingly to officiate for them. They very seriously asked me to do just that.
I had never presided over a marriage ceremony at that point. Consequently, I was incredibly nervous about doing justice to what the Bible clearly teaches is a beautiful covenant. Furthermore, they were clear that they desired that Scripture be brought to bear on their wedding ceremony. I agreed and went about writing the homily for their ceremony.
Below you will find my thoughts on marriage. However, more-than-that, I hope you will find the truth of what The LORD says about marriage…
This is a humbling responsibility. As a Christian the covenant of marriage is incredibly important to me.
A couple of months ago Maggie and I sat down with you both to talk about your wedding. We discussed your expectations for the ceremony. From early in the conversation it was abundantly clear that the two of you wanted the Word of God to be the focus. This was fine with me, God invented marriage so who am I to argue.
So, what I want to do is set aside the two of you for a moment. Accordingly I want to speak about God and what he communicates to us about Himself through the covenant of marriage. The very first marriage ceremony took place in the Garden. God, in an act of utter intimacy reaches down and does something He had yet to do. He creates Adam out of the dust of the earth shaping Him with his own hands. Moreover, God goes on and creates Eve with the same intimacy but this time from a rib of Adam.
Marriage In Genesis
Genesis 2:7-9; 15-25
7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
The Lord Gives The Gift of Marriage
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man and brought her to the man.
Adam Recognizes The Beauty of Marriage
23 The man said,“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Marriage Made Hard By The Fall
In the next chapter Adam and Eve plunge headfirst into sin. Consequently, they bring the curse on mankind through their sin. However, God promises to send a Savior through the descendants of Adam and Eve.
So, in their sin as husband and wife, Adam and Eve bring the sin curse to the whole world. For this reason, they also have the great promise of Jesus delivered to them and thus to us.
From this point on, God uses the covenant of marriage throughout the entire Old Testament. He does this to tell us about His mercy and grace. God uses explicit marriage language over 20 times in the Old Testament. Then in the New Testament God speaks of the Church. Church , in this instance, means all those who have repented of their sins and trust in Christ alone for their salvation. The Church is seen as the Bride of Christ.
Paul Exegetes Marriage To The Glory Of GOD
In Ephesians 5 Paul spends a goodly portion of time talking about the way marriage reflects the Gospel:
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. 27 That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing. But that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.
31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
What We Should See In Marriage From The Husband
So here is what we see:
Husbands, in this case right now I mean all married men or men who will be married. Husband you need to love your wife the way Christ loved the Church, His Bride.
How did He do that? Despite all the sinful ways that we have failed God. All the ways we have lied, stolen, hated others in thought word and deed, and failed to love God with every fiber of our being, He, God the Father, still sent God the Son, to die in our place. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
This death came after a life of perfect obedience and a level of temptation we could never understand. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Therefore, Christ goes to the cross where he bears the wrath of God on the part of any person who believes.
Marriage Means Work For The Husband
That is what God is commanding of husbands, He is telling you husband, that no matter how angry your wife may make you, and she will, you love her sacrificially. Subsequently, this means laying your own life down for her. Furthermore, it means loving her in the same sacrificial way that Christ loved believers.
Have you pondered what Christ did for you despite how sinful you have been and are? Furthermore, if you consider this, you will be more likely to respond in a godly way towards your wife.
What We Should See In Marriage From The Wife
Wife, and all wives here, you don’t get to hold that over anyone’s head. Furthermore, in the moments he is failing to love you with that Christ-like love that is commanded of him. Rest assured he will, you still must be subject to him.
What does this mean? It means that no matter how hard it is for you to love him at his darkest moments you do so. Wife, you love him the best by showing deference to him. Nothing that your husband asks of you will be as hard as what God the Father asked of God the Son. Remember, Christ was sent to bear your sins on the cross.
This does not mean that your husband gets to Lord over you. Neither does it mean you get to Lord over him and remind him just how much like Christ he isn’t.
A Word On Marriage for Both
Husband and wife, this means that you bring the truth of the Gospel to bear on how you relate to one another. It means that at all times you will be seeking the good of the other. It means that you do so to the exclusion of your own agenda or desires.
Paul has this to say to all believers in but it is especially applicable to husbands and wives:
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion. Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love. United in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. But with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests. But also for the interests of others.
Having The Right Attitude In Marriage
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Your Marriage Communicates Your View Of Christ
Husband and wife, you must keep these passages in mind. Both Ephesians 5 and the passage from Philippians 2 must be in your minds as you move forward from today. Subsequently, you will constantly have the Gospel in mind.
You will be thinking continually of the good of the other.
That was what Christ was doing when He laid down His life in such a sacrificial way.
This is why marriage is such a beautiful image instituted by God for our good.
Marriage points us to the cross, to the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Marriage tells us to love sacrificially like Christ.
I can’t offer any more profound words on marriage.
These thoughts are not original with me; they are the thoughts of sound Christians throughout the ages.
Husband and wife, if you take nothing else with you from this day forward, take these thoughts with you.
Your marriage is meant to be a picture of the Gospel. How you treat one another going forward tells the watching world what you believe about Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Would you please pray for Kayla and Mitchell and their marriage and their salvation?
(Names were changed to husband and wife for privacy issues.)