This past Sunday we looked at marriage from various passages in the Bible. During the confession time Jerry read from Ephesians 5:22-33 which says:
“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.”
As we discussed last week we live in a man-centered culture. Many people will come to a text like Ephesians 5:22 that talks about wives submitting to their husbands and we don’t like the word submit here. Like Mark said, we think it is a four letter word. It has negative connotations. John Piper says: “The ideas of headship and submission are not popular today. The spirit of our society makes it very hard for people to even hear texts like this in a positive way.” We were reminded of a great quote from C.S. Lewis who said: “The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being argued, but the ones that are assumed.” So, the assumption about this word submit in Ephesians 5:22 is that it means the husband can go home and sit on the couch and say: “woman give me my dinner and the remote.” This could not be further from the truth. The husband is to love his wife ‘as Christ loved the church.’ Adrian Rogers says this means: “A husband is to love his wife sacrificially because that’s the way Jesus loves the church. He is to love his wife supplyingly; that’t the way Jesus loves the church. He is to love his wife steadfastly; that’s the way Jesus loves the church. He is to love his wife selflessly; that’s the way Jesus loves the church.” He goes on to say: “Most women don’t mind being in submission to a man who loves her enough to die for her and shows it by the way he lives for her.”
Adrian Rogers reminds us that: “Submission is one equal voluntarily placing himself or herself under another equal that God may thereby be glorified. It has nothing to do with inferiority or superiority.” The Lord Jesus Christ submitted to his father as Philippians 2 tells us: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,”
James Boice writing about Philippians 2 tells us that: “Paul says that before the incarnation Jesus was in the form of God and was God’s equal…Jesus Christ possesses all of God’s attributes. They mean that he is God. Is God omniscient? So is Jesus. Is God all-powerful? So is Jesus. Is God the creator, the redeemer, the truth, the way, the life,…? So is Jesus.” He goes on: “We can imagine the scene that must have taken place in heaven on the eve of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. God is omniscient, but the angels are not…We must imagine therefore, that something like rumors of Christ’s descent to earth had been in circulation around heaven and that for weeks the angels had been contemplating the form in which Christ would enter human history. Would he appear in a blaze of light bursting into the night of the Palestinian country-side, dazzling all who beheld him? Perhaps he would appear as a mighty general marching into pagan Rome as Caesar did when he crossed the Rubicon. Perhaps he would come as the wisest of the Greek philosophers, putting the wisdom of Plato and Socrates to foolishness by a supernatural display of intellect. But what is this? There is no display of glory, no pomp, no marching of the feet of heavenly legions! Instead Christ lays his robes aside, the glory that was his from eternity. He steps down from the heavenly throne and becomes a baby in the arms of his mother in a far eastern colony of the Roman empire. At this display of divine condescension the angels are amazed, and they burst into such crescendo of song that the shepherds hear them on the hills of Bethlehem.”
Marriage In The Beginning
Next we looked at the end of Genesis 1 and portions of Genesis 2.Genesis 1:26 & 27 tell us:
“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.”
So, God creates men and women in His own image. Mark reminded us that men and women are equal in dignity, value, and worth.
Next we looked at portions of Genesis 2. Some of those verses are below:
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
God gives Adam a job before he is gives him a wife. Then in verse 18 God says: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Missionary martyr Jim Elliot says that: “When God saw that it was not good for a man to be alone, He saw something that is terribly obvious, and He did not meet the need by making a second man!” God says that he is going to make a helper fit for Adam, then he brings all of the animals to Adam for him to name. Why does God do this? Well as Adam starts to name the animals he sees a gorilla. He sees a male gorilla and a female gorilla. Then he sees a lion. He sees a male lion and a female lion. He sees all these male and female animals and yet he is alone as verse 18 says. So, God causes a deep sleep to come over him and then he removes Adam’s rib and ‘the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.’ This portion of scripture reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Matthew Henry. My wife loves this quote as well. Matthew Henry said: “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”
This passage in Genesis 2 describes the first marriage. In verse 24 we are told that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” In Matthew 19: 4-6 Jesus quotes this passage in Genesis 2: “Jesus answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” John Piper says that Jesus makes three conclusions about marriage. First, ‘therefore Jesus concludes for his day and ours: “So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Marriage is that kind of union—very profound, just as Christ and the church are one body (Romans 12:5).’ The second conclusion ‘Jesus draws is that this union of one flesh is the creation, the work, of God, not man. He says…, “What therefore God has joined together . . .” So even though two humans decide to get married. And a human pastor or priest or justice of the peace or some other person solemnizes and legalizes the union, all that is secondary to the main actor, namely, God. “What God has joined together . . .” God is the main actor in the event of marriage.” The third conclusion is that ‘what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ Piper says: “The contrast is: “If God joined the man and woman in marriage, then mere humans have no right to separate what he joined. That’s Jesus third conclusion from Genesis 1 and 2. Since God created this sacred union with this sacred purpose to display the unbreakable firmness of his covenant love for his people, it simply does not lie within man’s rights to destroy what God created.”
Jesus does give an exception for divorce in Matthew 19:9 when he says: “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” We are thankful however, that God has not divorced us because of our unfaithfulness. Through our unfaithfulness he has remained faithful.
The Purpose Of Marriage
Voddie Baucham says: “If you don’t know the purpose of a thing, you will probably misuse it. That saying is as true for marriage as it is for power tools. Once we know the purpose for which marriage was given, we are able to evaluate our use of and participation in it properly.” So, what is the purpose of marriage? Baucham answers: “God designed marriage on purpose, for a purpose (and it isn’t our happiness). Marriage was intended to serve as a living breathing illustration of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church. If we understand this, it will revolutionize the way we view our marriages. We will go from a man-centered marriage to a gospel-centered marriage.” Most people in our culture believe that the purpose of marriage is our individual happiness. Then when they are no longer happy they want to throw in the towel and call off the marriage. They say they are no longer happy and are no longer in love. Ligon Duncan reminds us that: “People don’t fall out of love. They fall out of repentance and forgiveness.”
So, the purpose of marriage is not our own personal happiness. John Piper again says: “What God has joined together in marriage is to be a reflection of the union between the Son of God and his bride the church. Those of us who are married need to ponder again and again how mysterious and wonderful it is that we are granted by God the privilege to image forth stupendous divine realities infinitely bigger and greater than ourselves.”
Jim Hamilton tells us that Ephesians 5 “says that the reason God gave marriage was to demonstrate the relationship between Jesus and those He redeems. Jesus redeemed His people by suffering and dying on their behalf.” So, husbands (I am preaching to myself here) the Bible commands us to love our wives in the same way that Jesus loved His beloved. Jim Hamilton reminds us that: “Many of life’s days seem routine, even mundane. And as years crawl by, strong emotions, like bright colors, seem to fade and there will be times when the euphoria of the honeymoon and all the joy of this day will be forgotten. It is during those times that other things may seem more exciting than your aging wife. During those times, you must love her with the same extravagancy with which Jesus has loved the church.”
Hamilton goes on: “God is making you two husband and wife to give the world a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the church. If you do not love your wife the way that Jesus loved the church, you lie to the world about God. My friend, there is one way for you to maintain the mindset and ability to do this. You must satisfy yourself primarily in God, and then receive your wife as God’s gift to you. If you look primarily to your wife to meet your deepest needs, understand all of your emotions, and be a constant source of encouragement and strength for you, you will be frustrated. God has made you such that only He can satisfy you.”
Jim Hamilton sums up his article on marriage like this: “The glory of God is at stake in your marriage. In order to love each other as you must until you die, you must satisfy yourselves on God. People get divorced because their spouses do not satisfy them. God doesn’t intend for your spouse to satisfy you. God intends for your spouse to remind you that you need God. And in casting yourselves again and again on God, satisfying yourselves day after day on God, you will have the emotional resources necessary to love each other.
You will be happy. And God will get glory because your lives will testify that He is the best, most beautiful, most worthy, most valuable, most able, most glorious thing in the universe. Seek your own joy in the pleasure of having a happy, pleased spouse. Gladly, humbly, prayerfully seek to live out the roles that God has clearly appointed for you. And enjoy the all-sufficient God who made you, redeemed you, and has promised to make you perfect like Jesus.”
So, whether you are single or married let us all ‘enjoy the all-sufficient God who made us, redeemed us, and has promised to make us perfect like Jesus.’ Let us look with expectancy to what Revelation 19 describes as the marriage supper of the lamb. At this marriage supper of the lamb Matt Chandler says we will be “sitting and…eating face to face with Jesus. Did you catch that? Not by faith, but by sight, face to face with Jesus in a day where there are no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering, just communing with our Savior for all eternity.”
Picture from here