God created men and women. And God created marriage and family. Marriage and family are very good things. It is NOT a bad thing to desire to be married at all! In fact, it is a great desire, and a natural desire.
The key is that our desire for marriage must be in the proper place in our hearts.
Marriage is actually a living picture of the relationship between Jesus and His Bride, the Church.
The church means – the people who have received Him to be their Savior and Lord. We think of a “church” as a building today. But when Jesus talks about His Church, He is talking about His chosen people. The incredible thing about marriage is that it is a spiritual mystery revealed to the world of the tenderness, love, respect, honor, and beauty of the interaction and spiritual intimacy between Jesus and His beloved people. (Eph. 5:22-33) The church is “the Body of Christ.” We each make up parts of it. We are “living stones” being joined together and built up into a “spiritual house” and a “holy priesthood” (1 Pet 2:5). Paul describes each of us as being a part of the body – a hand, a foot, etc… We work together with the Head of the Body, which is Jesus, to accomplish His good purposes in His kingdom.
How Marriage Parallels the Relationship between Christ and His Church
The Groom-to-Be Initiates the Covenant
- A man buys a ring, today, and proposes to his girlfriend. He initiates and is the one who invites her into the possibility of marriage with him.
- Jesus came to earth and paid a great price for us, inviting us to come to Him and to enter into an eternal covenant with Him. He followed the pattern of Jewish marriage customs in almost everything He did for us.
- He even used the same words a Jewish man would use to propose to his bride to invite His Church to be with Him forever:
- In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3
A Name Change for Her
- A bride takes on the name of her husband. When I married, I legally became Mrs. Gregory Cassidy.
- The Bride of Christ also takes on His Name as Christian or Christ-follower.
A Life-long Covenant – Representing an Eternal Covenant
- A man and woman enter into a life-long covenant to be there for each other “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health… till death do us part.”
- For thousands of years, a prospective groom would give a great deal of money to the bride’s father. He paid a “bride price.” This demonstrated that he valued his bride-to-be and was willing to sacrifice greatly for her to become his wife legally. Jesus sacrificed greatly for us, too. He, God, left heaven and His glory for us. He lived the perfect life we could never live. He died the death we deserved and took our punishment for our sins on His shoulders. He paid our sin-debt with His very blood on the cross. Then He conquered sin and death on our behalf. He came to rescue us from death and hell.
- A covenant is much more than a promise or a business contract that can be easily broken. It is intended to be binding until one or both spouses die. Jesus has offered an eternal Covenant with us through His blood, the New Covenant – which is vastly superior to and replaces the Old Covenant of Moses. We have access to Jesus, to God the Father, to the Holy Spirit, and to eternal life in paradise with Him through this covenant. We belong to Him from the point we trust in Him and receive His salvation and Lordship through the rest of our lives and into the eternal future. The fellowship and relationship with God that we lost after Adam and Eve fell in the garden is restored!
His Strength for Her Honor
- A man uses his physical strength to defend his bride from danger, protect her (and their children) from evil, and to build a home for his wife. He values and cherishes her. She is the “weaker vessel,”and this means it is his job to use his strength courageously for her good. He honors her by fighting for her and their family in ways she cannot fight for herself.
- Jesus uses His vastly superior strength to save us, to rescue us from danger, to provide for us, to protect us, and to defend us from evil and sin. He fought for us in ways we could never have fought for ourselves. We were the damsel in distress and He was the greatest Hero.
Selfless Generosity and Joyful Receiving
- A man takes on the position of protector, provider, and giver, in many ways to his wife. Today, a wife may contribute financially, as well. But for thousands of years, husbands were primarily the breadwinners and financial providers. Wives took care of the home, children, garden, cooking, and chores. And even today, husbands have a profound sense of responsibility to provide financially and to meet their family’s physical needs (“For Women Only,” by Shaunti Feldhahn).
- This is a picture of the way that Jesus gives and provides so generously. He provides for all of our physical and spiritual needs. He provides salvation. He provides new Life and eternal life. We can’t earn it. We joyfully receive and welcome Him and all He has done for us.
- God designed marriage to be a place where we are made holy, (“Sacred Marriage,”Gary Thomas), where He exposes sin and invites us to go much deeper with Himself. We can’t hide our flaws and sinfulness in marriage. Our motives, thoughts, expectations, words, and deeds are exposed. This is an opportunity for us to repent from sin and turn to Jesus and allow Him to transform us to make us more like Himself.
- Jesus takes on the responsibility in the New Covenant to present His Bride to Himself without stain, wrinkle, or blemish. He cleanses His Bride with His Word and makes her holy. (Eph. 5:25-28)
Access and Authority for Her
- A bride enjoys access to her husband’s property, authority in certain matters, finances, and any inheritance he may have.
- Jesus’ Bride also enjoys access to all that belongs to Jesus. She has access to all of His heavenly riches and provision, access to God the Father, access to the Holy of Holies, and access to His authority in certain matters. Her identity is now wrapped up in Jesus’ identity. We are co-heirs with Christ. (Rom. 8:17)
A New Home for Her
- A bride leaves her home to live with her husband and start a new life together in their new home.
- Jesus will come get His Bride and take us to be with Him in heaven – either when we die, or through the rapture. (1 Thess. 4:16-18)
- The one-flesh relationship of marriage depicts the one-Spirit relationship between Christ and those who love Him. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit as believers in Christ. Part of the very Spirit of God comes into our spirits. We are indwelled or “filled” with the Spirit. And fruit results.
- In marriage, the fruit of the one-flesh relationship is children, conceived and born in love.
- In the Body of Christ, the fruit of our spiritual union with the Holy Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit in our own lives (Gal. 5:22-23) and new baby Christians, new disciples and followers of Jesus, as we share the Gospel and God’s Spirit works in and through us and others to bring new believers into the Body of Christ.
- Both spouses fully give of themselves for the other and receive and accept one another in joy.
- If an earthly spouse is sexually unfaithful with another person outside of the marriage, it is adultery.
- If a believer in Christ is unfaithful spiritually to Him, it is idolatry. To God, idolatry is just as severe and horrific as adultery would be in the marriage covenant.
Exaltation and Portrayal of the Gospel
- The primary purpose of the human marriage relationship is to point everyone who sees that relationship to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5) God designed marriage to showcase the beautiful differences and interplay between godly masculinity and godly femininity.
- The husband is to represent the sacrificial love, humble servant-leadership, and devotion of Jesus to His Bride.
- The wife is to represent the love, honor, biblical submission, and cooperation with the leadership of her husband to portray the way the church is to relate to Jesus. (Of course, with human marriage, there do have to be some limits that the church does not have with Jesus because human husbands are not perfect or deity.)
- The husband and wife have equal value in God’s eyes (Gal. 3:28) and they are joint-heirs with Christ if they both belong to Him. But they do have different roles. Their value and worth is separate in God’s eyes from their roles in marriage.
- God also designed marriage to be the primary building block of society and the place where godly children are raised (Mal. 2:15) so that they can model themselves after the beautiful example of their parents. Then the children will grow up knowing about God, loving Him, and knowing how to have a godly marriage in the future, too.
This is why we can’t just change the definition of marriage to suit our particular desires or our culture’s current trends.
God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman to display the gospel. When we alter it, we change the picture of Christ and His Church. We don’t have the authority to define marriage or to change it. That is God’s prerogative, alone. Marriage is holy because it pictures something holy and because it is meant to produce holy people – holy men, holy women, and holy children.
God uses marriage to expose our sins and weaknesses and to teach us about His love, truth, mercy, and grace.
He uses it, if we will allow Him to, in order to sanctify us. He wants to make us more like Jesus. That is His greatest desire for each of us – whether we are single or married. He wants to use everything in our lives (the good and bad) to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).
Marriage Can Easily Become an Idol, But It Doesn’t Have to Be!
Just like with anything else, if we put a desire for marriage above Christ in our hearts, then we get into trouble.
An idol is anything we look to for my purpose, sense of worth, security, fulfillment, and identity that is not Jesus.
We can make anything or any person into an idol in our hearts. We can put self on the throne of our heart, exalting self above God. We can idolize a man, our parents, or having children. We can idolize money, luxury, beauty, comfort, thinness, popularity, a career, romance, happiness, other people’s approval, perfectionism, fear, worry, control, or our emotions. We can idolize politicians, false religions, false teachers, godly pastors, singers, actors, or even actual physical idols.
If we long for marriage more than anything, if we hang our identity and worth on whether we are married or not, instead of on Christ as our Savior and Lord, we make marriage into an idol. Idols always destroy us. Even if they are good things in and of themselves. If we elevate anything or anyone above Jesus in our lives and love that thing or person more than we love Jesus, we will destroy ourselves and the relationship.
Jesus is the only One who is worthy of sitting on the throne of our hearts and lives as Lord. As we live for Him and seek Him above all else and love Him much more than anyone or anything, our other desires line up in submission to His will, His wisdom, and His plan and timing in our lives.
It’s a beautiful thing to desire marriage and to understand the eternal picture and importance of the marriage relationship in God’s design.
And it is an even more beautiful thing to desire Jesus far above anyone or anything else and to have that incredible spiritual oneness with Him.
All of us can participate in an eternal covenant with Jesus! All of us can have the real spiritual intimacy with Christ that is pictured in marriage symbolically.
So we lay our desires and dreams before the Lord. Then we invite Him to lead us according to His perfect will for our lives. We don’t cling to our desires. We cling to Jesus and His leading. And we find contentment in Him and in whatever path He may have for us. We don’t become desperate for a man, a ring, a wedding, marriage, or children. We share our desires with the Lord. He doesn’t owe us any of these things. And His plans may not look like our plans. His timing may not be our timing. But He knows how to lead us on His amazing path for us as we trust Him. As we follow, obey, and seek Him far above all else, we will have great spiritual abundance and be filled with His peace and joy because we have Him! Jesus is truly the Greatest Treasure in the universe!
We can be content in Christ regardless of our circumstances. And we can trust Him to lead us in what is ultimately best for us.
So we want to approach marriage God’s way. And we want to keep our walk with Him as LORD of every area of life – whether we ever marry or whether we stay single.
We will address the opposite issue in the next post, “Is it Wrong to Want to Stay Single?”
Spiritual Connection with Christ
What Is the Gospel? www.gotquestions.org
What Is Lordship Salvation? www.gotquestions.org
Recognizing When a Good Thing Is an Idol: