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Marriage Is a Living Parable of the Gospel
It would be hard to overstate the importance of marriage.
There is nothing more fundamental to human society than biblical marriage. As goes our understanding and respect for marriage, so will go the family, and so will go communities, nations, and human culture as a whole.
There is arguably no greater or more tangible picture of the Gospel than that which is found in marriage. Marriage is designed by God to be sanctifying, life giving, even redemptive. The marriage of a godly man and woman is a living parable of the Gospel. When they are walking in faithfulness to God and to one another, they boldly proclaim the beauty of the Gospel and God’s design for mankind.
I want to take some time to look at both of these fundamental and essential glorious aspects of marriage. Its place in God’s purpose and design for mankind, and the glorious way it pictures the Gospel.
A marriage ceremony is not just an excuse to get dressed up, have a good time, and celebrate two people you know and love. Those in attendance are meant to bear witness to God’s design and purpose for marriage – as it is far more glorious than anything our society understands or promotes.
Marriage and God's Purpose for Mankind
Marriage is central to God’s design and purpose for mankind.
Genesis 1:26–27 (ESV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God didn’t create men and women in seclusion from one another. He made them – both in His image – so that they might, as they come together as one in marriage, represent Him as they exercised dominion over the earth. There is a special and unique way that men and women image God and fulfill His design that is only realized as they are joined in the one-flesh union of marriage.
It is not that single men or women cannot walk in faithfulness to God or benefit His people and society – that would be to take this too far. It is just that marriage is the only prescribed means whereby men can find a helper fit for him. It is the designed means of a woman being led, cared for, and freed to flourish in all the creative and nurturing wonder that God has given her. It is the only place where children can be brought up where they will be safe, nurtured, and taught to fear God and walk in His ways.
Without marriage you cannot have the family – not as it was designed to be so that it will bless and not curse. Without the family you cannot have community. Without community you cannot have society. Where biblical marriage is honored and promoted, you will find in increase of health and vitality in everything that runs downstream.
God created humans male and female. As they are joined together in marriage they will have the opportunity to fulfill their God given roles in ways that they could not while they were apart. They must remember the call to dominion – to grow, to build, to plant, to be a blessing to their children and to society. It is a call that they are given together. Married individuals have different roles and different giftings, but they have a common purpose for which they were both designed.
Marriage and the Gospel
Marriage is a powerful and beautiful picture of the Gospel.
Ephesians 5:22–31 (ESV)
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.”
Along with being the means through which mankind was to take dominion over creation in the image and in the name of God, marriage has been given as a living display of the relation of Christ and His church.
Wives submit to their husbands, not because they are in some way inferior to them, but in order that they might display the relationship of the Church to Christ. Husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies – willing to sacrifice themselves in order to build her up and to present her holy and blameless.
Far from diminishing the beauty of marriage, this elevates marriage from the temporal into the eternal. The marriage of one man and one woman will stand before God as long as they both are alive on this earth. The marriage of the Christ to His Bride will have no end. It will stand in full glory and beauty for countless ages into all eternity.
We have heard that from the beginning God called the man to leave father and mother and to be joined with his wife. The man and woman would be joined by God into one flesh, there would no longer be two but one.
From the beginning, God also planned another union, one that would provide a way for fallen, broken, sinful humanity, to be joined for all eternity to the perfect, spotless, all-glorious, Son of God. That union would cost the Son of God His very life, in order that by His sacrifice He would redeem for Himself His Bride from the bonds of sin and death. Removing from her the body of death and decay, and in its place raising her up in newness of life and in the splendor of the bride of the Lord over all creation.
As Eve was given to Adam because it was not good that he was alone, so the Gospel was given because without it we would have remained in our sins and – apart from God – would have died alone. See the wonder of the Gospel in the living parable of marriage. Give glory to God. Turn from sin and be joined together with Christ.
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Caleb Stomberg is husband to Lindsey and father to their seven children. He is pastor at Legacy Reformed Baptist Church in East Grand Forks, MN. Caleb enjoys woodworking, hunting, and anything Tolkien.