“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. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Years ago, a wise old mentor gave me some advice on the eve of my wedding. I will always remember one thing he said. “Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener.” Here is part three of this three-part series on Christian marriage.
Three times the Bible gives us these words: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24 offers it in the context of the creation of the world and the joining of Adam and Eve. Matthew 19:5 shares the text in the setting of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees questioning him about divorce. And, of course, Paul shares the words with the Ephesians.
For this reason. For this reason. For this reason. Only it never explicitly tells us the reason. Given the unique contexts of each setting, I will take a crack at it.
In Genesis 1 the reason for marriage strikes me as vocational. The vocation is to oversee, steward, care for, and further populate the whole creation. While that would not be unique to married couples today, it should remain as a clear purpose of the institution’two image-bearers of God becoming one flesh by serving one visionary purpose.
In Matthew 19 the reason for marriage strikes me as transformational. After citing the text at hand, Jesus responded to their point about Moses permitting divorce. “He said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’” (v. 8 esv). Marriage is a crucible of sorts, which is a container made to withstand great heat for the purpose of melting and forging precious metals. It’s why marriage is not contractual but covenantal. Contracts are written with language anticipating breach. Not so with covenants, which, biblically speaking, are sealed in terms of life and death.
It’s especially interesting when you consider that “crucible” comes from the Latin word crux, meaning “cross.” God intends marriage to be a place where hardness of heart and any number of character flaws and defects might be brought to the surface and skimmed away like dross. Two image-bearers of God becoming one flesh by becoming of one heart.
I propose the reason given for marriage in Ephesians 5 is doxological. Christian marriage is meant to give glory to God. “Doxology,” a fancy word for “worship,” takes place when revelation inspires response.
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
The revelation of Christ inspires a response of worship from the church. Christian marriage serves as a type of everyday temple where Christ reveals himself through the sacrificial love of husband and wife. As couples offer themselves up to God for the blessing and benefit of the other, the world witnesses something of the splendor of holiness.
It’s amazing how expressions of lower-archy inspire awe in those who behold. Jesus washing his disciples’ feet offers a fitting example. All these years later and we still can’t stop talking about it. Two image-bearers of God becoming one flesh by becoming of one mind’the mind of Christ.
Maybe you’ve seen the billboards around the country that contain messages from God. In white letters across a black background, they say things like, “I miss how you used to talk to me when you were a kid.—God,” and “If you must curse, use your own name!—God.” My all-time favorite is the one that says, “Loved the wedding. Invite me to the marriage.—God.”
Something about a wedding where you know Jesus has been invited to the marriage gladdens the hearts of everyone around. Something about it sets the world right again.
Marriage figures prominently in the plan of God. The world began with a wedding, where our eyes were opened to the image of God. Jesus’ first miracle happened at a wedding, where our eyes were opened to the Son of God. The world will end with a wedding, where our eyes will be opened to the ultimate glory of God.
As the hymn writer has it in the great hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul”:
O Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
even so, it is well with my soul.
Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who has loved us beyond our capacity to comprehend. We pray for more marriages through which we might behold the glory of God. Married or not, awaken us to your purposes for marriage. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Which of the three reasons for marriage most resonates with you? Why?
Which of the three most challenges you? Why?
Whose marriages will you seek to encourage in the coming days?
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