Eve June 9th, 2010
I saw that quote on a friend’s Facebook page recently and it was really thought-provoking for me, even though it’s not relevant to my current marital status. When we look at Ephesians 5:22-33, we see God through His self-revelation (the Bible) explaining what His institution of “marriage” is designed to be all about:
It’s about Christ and the Church.
Christ is the Head, the Church is His Body.
The Head, or husbands, representing Christ, are called to pursue their bride, the Church; sacrificing for her, dying to personal desires, providing, teaching, cultivating, feeding, loving them all the days of their lives.
And the bride (the “Church” or the “Body” of Christ) are called to submit themselves to the loving care of Christ, the Head, Who condescended from eternity to time, from timeless and heavenly things to a decaying temporal existence on Earth, in order to receive the full penalty of her sins on Himself.
Marriage, instituted by the Creator of life, exists to illuminate that Gospel, which is the Greatest Story Ever Told.
It doesn’t exist for selfishness, jealousy, control, lust, or to nurse insecurities. And it certainly doesn’t exist to be torn apart. After all, Christ didn’t live perfectly & die sacrificially for a bride only to abandon her; and the Church, His Body, didn’t experience a larger-than-life love story of redemption in order to leave her only true Love.
It’s about Christ and the Church.
Well, it appears one trap married folks (especially ones who are amped to obey Ephesians 5 as best as their abilities will allow) can fall into is to get into the rut of following the words of this admonition without the spirit of it. Some people, whether deliberately and out of frustration about imperfections that persist, or unintentionally, will grit their teeth and daily force themselves into the submission and sacrifice the Gospel story recounts. Yet they’ll forget the love that is the true motive behind the Gospel. It’s love with the Gospel of Christ in view that should compel a husband to care for his wife and a wife to respect her husband.
Well, one of the comments in the Facebook discussion I first referenced expressed this idea of rooting one’s marital sacrificing & submitting in a motive of true love so well that I want to quote it. It refers to the “re-enactment” mentioned in the title of this blog article:
[T]he most beautiful aspect of that re-enactment is the [reality] and joy of mystic union and sweet communion established and granted by the grace of God!
I was stupefied by this remark! Here was my reply to the writer of that comment; a person I’ll call “Q”:
[T]hat was encouraging, Q. [I]t would be terrible if for some the quote “the purpose of marriage is gospel re-enactment” invited robotic behavior or joyless striving and a lack of grace for the spouse when in reality sanctification takes a lifetime. [D]id you ever go through a stage where it felt like a burden, and how did you get out?
Thankfully, Q was gracious enough to reply. And his reply was the motivation for today’s blog post:
[M]any marriages struggle in those ways mine has as well…there are many reasons for this but mainly because people forget WHY they got married in the first place, they have ceased to see their spouse as the “apple of their eye” they only see their sins/faults and not their beauty and grace they forget the … love of God toward themselves.
Most Christian marriages in this rut are also in the same rut with God. Because they forgot that their salvation was based upon the unmerited grace, abounding lovingkindness and compassion of God and that we were called into “fellowship” – a shared life/communion. God first loved us by giving of Himself and His Son to us and thus we love Him. Marriages only display the gospel when they live out the love of God in this way. We must first love our spouse – not because of anything they have done but because they are our beloved chosen one who we chose to covenant with until we die…if we love on the basis of (their) merit or solely on the basis of law then our marriages will lack grace and will lead to “robotic behavior and joyless striving”
marriage is lived out in covenant communion – not merely covenant obligation. the purpose of marriage as salvation is fellowship (see 1 John 1:4). Marriage is about fellowship…”I am my beloveds and he is mine” (Song of Sol 2:16)…this is what the marriage supper of the Lamb is going to be all about, this is why Jesus rejects those who he “never knew”….eternity will be about fellowship with our God and Christ – “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.”
gospel re-enactment in marriage as I see it, is about fellowship…fellowship displays itself in proper devotio[n], love that gives, sacrifices, obeys, cherishes, honors, remains faithful, keeps the law of love and thus the whole law…
And marriage is a lifetime of learning this as you said, sanctification…the beauty of not just going through life together but growing through life together
[S]orry for the dissertation – its par for the course for us seminary guys….hope that’s helpful.
So for all you married and soon-to-be-married folk out there, I hope this discourse was helpful. Q really provided excellent perspective to such a critical subject.