The institution of marriage is under attack. It has been and will continue to be more and more pervasive. With that thought in mind, this post, which will be a series, has been on my mind for several months now. It began when the Lord placed it on my heart with regard to the sweeping legislation to allow civil unions to be legalized, essentially ignoring all Biblical guidelines for marriage. But this isn’t the only attack taking place, not even half of the battle. Not surprisingly the second attack is divorce. But before we look at either of these attacks, it’s important for us to lay the groundwork of the Biblical model for marriage, namely the marriage of Christ with His bride, The Church.
One of the more beautiful symbolisms of Christ and His relationship to His church is that of marriage. Very few people in the Church understand this relationship and even fewer in the world. John the Baptist uses this analogy in John 3:29 ESV, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.” John’s statement here is that Jesus is the bridegroom, He is coming to declare His bride, and John himself is the “friend” of the bridegroom who rejoicing at the sound of Jesus’ voice. To fully grasp this analogy we have to understand what is happening in the context of marriage with God the Father, God the Son, and the Church body, or body of believers. Ephesians 1:4 ESV says, “even as He [God the Father] chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Don’t get lost or lose sight of the wedding analogy here. God chose the bride for His Son Jesus, “before the foundation of the world.” Jesus then purchased that bride, or keeping with the symbolism, paid the dowry, with His blood on the cross and He will unite with His bride at His second coming. This is why the institution of marriage is so important, it represents Jesus and His love for His bride, all those who trust Him as Savior.
With this model in mind, think about how we treat our Bridegroom. We are idolatrous towards Him, chasing after money, material possessions, every fleeting pleasure, we are selfish, neglectful, and because of all these things we are adulterous in our covenant relationship with Jesus. Yet if we are true believers, true partakers of this covenant, how many times has He left us? Never. He has every right to be unsatisfied, even angry, not to mention so painfully hurt with how we treat Him; this is His bride that He paid for with His life! Even the most lavish wedding costs are merely monetary, yet Christ paid for His with His life and took all of the sins of His bride on Himself. Oh how easy it would be, and deservedly so, for Jesus to divorce His adulterous bride. Yet He promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5 ESV and He keeps on forgiving His bride, keeps on loving her no matter what.
Pastor John Piper puts it like this, “Marriage represents covenant keeping love between Christ and His church. It shows the truth of Christ’s love to the church and the devotion of the church to Jesus.” Jesus always cares for His bride, never abandons her, never abuses her, always comforts her, always loves her, always protects her, always delights in her, and always welcomes her back when she strays. He never, ever leaves His bride. Don’t miss this foundational point Christian, it’s so critical to see it. That’s the standard that Christ has set for marriage, the bar is high, and the world simply cannot understand this without this model established by Jesus Christ. Don’t play with this truth. The apostle Paul emphasized this model and truth in Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Marriage is a reflection of the covenant Christ has with His church and it puts this truth on display. To break a marriage through divorce is to disregard Christ’s covenant with His church and if the covenant with Christ is ever broken, if He ever divorces His bride, then we have no hope, no eternal life, no salvation from sin or wrath, nothing. That’s the importance of marriage, that’s the model Christ has provided, and it is not to be taken lightly.
In the next post, we’ll look at the Biblical guidelines for marriage.
*Given the alliance of Piper and Rick Warren, please see the warning post here: Red Skies In the Morning