With our doctrinal understandings secure, we can now do the fun part of theology; apply it. This space will hopefully become an area where issues of the day can be dealt with; Biblically.
This week, let’s apply our theological understanding to the idea of marriage.
Let’s get our basics out-of-the-way and use what we know of God and the world to frame our relationships; then we can put that knowledge to use (application, the stuff after the bold text).
For starters, let’s remember that marriage predates the Fall. What; you mean marriage isn’t some institution ordained by women to trap men? No, no it is not; here’s my proof. Adam & Eve birth sin into the world in Genesis 3. Before any of that happened, Adam & Eve are described as bone of bone and flesh of flesh and the “one flesh” union of marital joining is described at the end of chapter 2. Genesis 2 is an in-depth retelling of the creation account of Genesis 1, where-in men and women are made in the image of God (Adam first in God’s image, then Eve in Adam’s image which is Gods’), and thus described as good. Therefore, marriage is a good institution designed by God: for His people, for their good, for His glory.
So, how does it work and why does it work that way. Ephesians 5 gives us the great rundown of relationships in the body, and it culminates with the most basic institution of humanity—marriage. In that section we are told that wives should submit to their husbands. Why? Because we are then told that husbands are responsible to love their wives, sacrifice for them, lead them in Christ-likeness, and guide them into sanctification. I’ve always phrased wifely submission in this way to skeptical women: if I gave you a man who did everything imaginable for your flourishing; he prayed for you, read the Word, loved God, and desired nothing more than your glorious perfection before the Father; is there anywhere you wouldn’t follow him? Because, that description of submission in marriage is the point of husbands leading their wives.
Why? Because marriage is not about us, it is about Jesus. Marriage is a picture of the Gospel of Christ, wherein Jesus gives Himself to purify the church. Therefore the church loves and follows Jesus and glories in His sacrifice to honor the one who gave Himself.
So what?!?? You said this stuff was going to be important to my life!!!!!
This is where the rubber meets the road so often in marital breakdown. If your marriage has: strife, anger, resentment, disillusionment, distrust, etc., it is more than likely because one of the above roles has broken down. Husbands will complain; she isn’t following me. It is always good to ask; where are you leading her? Wives will complain; he isn’t leading me rightly. It is always good to ask; is he taking me where I want to go or where I need to go? The question should always start with us, recognizing the very real possibility that our sin is firing up again (and again, and again).
The good news of the Gospel here is that Jesus’ mercy and grace cover here as well. Each day we can rise anew with a fresh focus to love our spouse and honor them as God would have us. And each time we fall away from that standard, we can rest at the Cross, knowing His grace is sufficient for our salvation. So each day, Christian spouse, take up your cross and love the mate God has given you; by His grace, living in His mercy.