Friday, October 16, 2009

The Mystery of Marriage

This evening I was thumbing through John Piper's Desiring God and spent a few moments rereading his chapter entitled "Marriage: A Matrix for Christian Hedonism." Weddings are fun (BTW: Congratulations to Tim & Doris Ashcraft on the marriage of their daughter, Diane), but, more so, they are also excellent occasions for those who are already married to soberly re-consider the mystery of marital union. I'd like to share a few excellent thoughts from Piper's Desiring God.

Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives and Husbands

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The mystery is this: God did not create the union of Christ and the church after the pattern of human marriage; just the reverse! He created human marriage on the pattern of Christ's relation to the church.

...marriage is a mystery--it contains and conceals a meaning far greater than what we see on the outside. God created man male and female, and ordained marriage so that the eternal covenant relationship between Christ and his church would be imaged forth in the marriage union. As Geoffrey Bromiley has written, "As God made man in his own image, so he made marriage in the image of his own eternal marriage with his people."

...It is not enough to say that each spouse should pursue his or her own joy in the joy of the other. It is also important to say husbands and wives should consciously copy the relationship God intended for Christ and the church. (178)

...As each pursues joy in the joy of the other and fulfills a God-ordained role, the mystery of marriage as a parable of Christ and the church becomes manifest for his great glory and for our great joy. (184)