Marriage as Mystery
A little over 20 years ago, Cheryl and I said “I do.” Honestly, we had no idea what we were saying. We knew that we loved each other and wanted to be married, but we didn’t know what that would mean or what it could mean. However, by God’s grace, we continue to say “I do” every day.
What comes into your mind when you think about marriage?
Often those who are not yet married see marriage as something to be either achieved or avoided. For some, marriage is that thing that we think will bring life meaning and hope, so marriage is sought after at all costs. Others avoid marriage because they agree with Chris Rock, who said, “Do you want to be single and lonely or married and bored?”
Those who are married can view marriage in an inappropriate manner as well. Marriage can be viewed strictly as a means to my own happiness. I can look for a “Me Marriage,” a partnership with someone who makes life more interesting and helps me attain my valued goals. In this view, marriage is almost exclusively self-centered and to be valued as long as it helps me achieve my goals.
Paul has a higher vision. In Ephesians 5, Paul describes marriage as a mystery that points to Christ and the Church. In other words, marriage is a signpost pointing to the love of God displayed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How does marriage display the gospel?
Marriage displays the gospel when each spouse, in imitation of Jesus, lays down his or her life to serve the other.
This is what Jesus has done for us. Out of love for us, Jesus willingly laid down his life in his death on the cross for our sins. He did this so we could be made the people we were intended to be the people of God.
In a gospel marriage, both spouses seek to imitate Jesus’ self-sacrifice. Paul says that in a gospel marriage the husband will love and lead his wife so she can ourish. Headship is not dictatorship, but sacri cial service so that those we are entrusted to lead can be all God has made them to be.
Likewise, Paul calls the wife to gospel sacrifice in submitting to her husband. Notice, she is to submit to her husband in particular, not to all men in general. And this submission is not a display of weakness, but a gathering of all her strengths so that she might serve and support her husband. She does this so he can shine as the man God has made him to be.
Two naturally self-serving people who say “I do” to a lifetime of self-sacrifice so that another can be made whole is a vivid display of the gospel.
Paul calls this profound. Indeed.