In the previous post we established that Jesus is the perfect Bridegroom and has created an ideal model for each of us to follow and pattern in our own marital relationships. If you haven’t read it, please take the time to do so, because it’s so foundational to marriages. Not only has the marriage model been provided, but the Bible has established guidelines for us to adhere. The first guideline is provided by Jesus in the Gospels and the second two are found in chapter 5 of Ephesians. While the Bible is the ultimate authority on marriage with numerous guidelines to help us, today we will focus on 1) The marriage bond 2) Husbandry love 3) Bridal submission. Each of these is core to the marriage vows that are taken at the altar, but their implementation comes straight from the Word of God.
Our first point comes from Mark 10:7-8 ESV, Jesus is in a dialogue with religious leaders regarding the rules of marriage. These overly zealous men know the Scriptures and that is exactly what Jesus quotes to them in this passage as He states, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'” In this passage, Jesus is quoting Genesis 2:24 and not only do we see that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we get an intimate picture of what this is supposed to look like, “two shall become one flesh.” How many times have we heard that marriage is 50/50 relationship? Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact, it’s not even Biblical. It’s 100/100, all of you joined with all of your spouse, together in one accord, one mind, one body, yet two souls joined in Christ. And this last part is so critical. If your life is not Christ-centered, or your spouse’s life is not Christ-centered, then your marriage will not be Christ-centered. This, not finances, infidelity, incompatibility, nor falling out of love, is the number one cause of divorce. The two shall become one flesh, with Christ as their center.
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Men, the bar is raised high on this truth. If you truly think about this passage, about what it means, then there is no need for books, classes, or counseling for how to be a better husband. Don’t complicate it, simplify it, love your wife as Christ loved the church. Give yourself completely to your wife in everything. If Jesus had one single selfish motive in stepping down from heaven, becoming flesh, taking on our sins, and dying on the cross, then His mission would have been an abject failure. He gave all of Himself, willingly, for His bride because that’s how much He loves and cares for her, unconditionally. Should we be any different with our wives? The Bible says no. Lay down your life symbolically for your wife as Jesus laid down His physically for the church. Put your selfish desires and wants to death and love your bride as Christ loved the church.
In the same regard women have been given the following directive, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV I realize this is often a point of contention in marriage vows because as soon as someone hears the word “submit” they immediately become defensive, taking the position of, “No man is going to tell me what to do.” Really? How much did Christ love you? Enough to die on the cross for your sins? Do you have a problem submitting to Him? We’ve already discussed how the husband is to love his wife, and when you receive this kind of love, how can you not submit? Now obviously we are not talking about an abusive submission, we are truly saying submitting to the love of Christ that is being shown by your husband. That is what you have been called to do and it is your role in the marriage in the same regard as it is the Church’s role in its covenant with Jesus.
“Marriage is God’s showcase of covenant keeping grace. In marriage, you live moment by moment in grace, the grace extended from Jesus Christ. All of the Christian life is meant to display covenant grace, but marriage is a unique display.” (John Piper) This unique display of grace is found when marital relationships are rooted in Christ. This means Godly sorrow and repentance when wrongs are committed and the Grace of God extended in forgiveness, no matter what. Every marital problem, every divorce, every blowup, every issue, argument and fight comes back to Jesus Christ. If we are not centered in our own relationship with Christ, our marriages will be out of line. If we are centered personally on Christ, yet not centered on Christ together, our marriages will be out of line. Marriage is a Covenant Love, it’s covenant keeping, just as between Jesus and His bride. Christ’s covenant is never broken and therefore neither should ours be. Pastor John Piper points out that, “God patterned marriage after His Son and the relationship to His redeemed people.” In this respect, marriage reflects the Gospel and neither should be mocked, dissolved, or entered into lightly.
*Given the alliance of Piper and Rick Warren, please see the warning post here: Red Skies In the Morning