Let’s talk about marriage, shall we? It’s not like anyone else will. In fact, they will probably speak against it. We live in a society in which marriage is no longer cherished; it’s actually the opposite. Divorce is celebrated. People don’t want to be dependent on a spouse anymore. Instead, the prideful mindset of independence has blossomed into an all-consuming idol. People in our culture worship the idea of being their own God. The divorce rate in the United States is over 50% and growing rapidly. In my workplace, every week for the last two months I have heard about a new divorce happening to friends of mine. Family and marriage seem to have lost their value. Broken parents lead to broken children who then lead broken lives of their own, and the cycle continues. Sin leads to more sin. It is appalling that this corruption is present, not only in the world, but in the Church, too.
The question is, “why?” Why is marriage so undervalued in today’s society? What has changed? To answer this question, I will pose a deeper question. Why would anyone submit to a marriage if they do not submit to the one who created marriage? This question is aimed toward non-Christians and Christians alike. Marriage was created with a purpose, and without submitting to the one who gave marriage its purpose, marriage loses its value. What has changed is the level of obedience to the Lord. It is progressive disobedience.
There are a few main passages of scripture that speak about marriage and its guidelines, and Jesus Christ talked more about marriage than many people realize, not just about how marriage works, but WHY it works the way it does. This is most clear in the book of Ephesians when the apostle Paul writes to the church of Ephesus saying:
“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. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:22-27
This passage reveals the direct parallel between marriage and the Gospel of Christ. The roles of husband and wife should reflect that of Christ and his bride, the Church. God was so gracious to give us these guidelines for marriage, because this leads to our sanctification. The process of sanctification means being conformed more into the image of Christ. It means learning how to love someone else more than yourself and giving up your own desires in order to serve another. Just as the Church submitted to the authority of Christ, the wife should submit to the authority of her husband. Also, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, the husband should love his wife and give himself up for her. The wife is sanctified by learning to submit to Godly authority, while the husband is also sanctified by learning how to give himself up for his wife, both intentionally to glorify Christ.
When looking at scripture, we see that the entire Gospel is the example of how Jesus humbly gives himself up for his Church and in turn the Church submits to Christ’s authority. This is a complete game changer for how we should view marriage! Every time Jesus Christ gave himself up physically, mentally, or emotionally, he set the example for us to follow. Ultimately, He gave up His own life so that we could have a relationship with the Father. THAT is sacrificial love.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” – Ephesians 5:31
Becoming one flesh is much more than just sex; it also involves giving up your way of doing things. Any ounce of pride or selfishness is stripped from you. When entering into the covenant of marriage, your decisions are no longer just your decisions. When lived out within God’s guidelines, marriage is one of the ultimate tools that God uses to sanctify His Church. What a great God to give us such a means for our sanctification.
So why is it that society cannot get marriage right? It is because they do not understand the Gospel. Jesus Christ does not divorce his Church. Marriage indeed has a purpose, a divine purpose, to sanctify Christ’s Church and display the beauty of the Gospel. As Christians, it is our job to paint the picture of marriage for the world to see. After all, we are merely following the example that Jesus Christ already set for us.