I don’t think there’s anything more blissful than Christ’s saving grace and marriage. They’re connected, actually. By grace we are saved, and we are made partakers of redemption, we become one in body, and soon will be fulfilled at the marriage supper of the Lamb. That was a lot of theology packed into one itty-bitty sentence… Sorry. I would talk theology, but I’m here to talk about weddings instead.
My brother got married in late December. It seems like awhile ago, but I still remember vividly watching them in church over the next few weeks. There was something very distinct about a newly married couple. I couldn’t place my finger on it, I’m not sure anyone can. It’s sort of that mysterious thing… As though two have actually become one in body and soul. I couldn’t explain this, until our pastor did a sermon series on marriage.
It seems odd for an underaged, single girl to be writing about such a thing, but I still have my first impression of these weddings, and these sermons… and I want to remember what it is, and see how it changes, if it changes.
The following is just a few paragraph comprised of my notes from two or three sermons.
* * *
I had never heard before that marriage is more for God’s glory than it is for personal enrichment. Companionship is the “essence” and second character of marriage. It solves the loneliness issue. “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” – Gen. 2:18
That marriage is exclusive cannot be doubted. God created A WOMAN and brought her to THE MAN. The covenant is made between one woman and one man, and it binds them together for life. All other relationships take a backseat… The definition for a covenant is: “A solemn commitment with divine sanctioning.” In this case, God is both witness and enforcer.
Marriage is a living representation of Christ’s mystical union with the Church. That is its purpose.
1. Union: Latin word unio, meaning “one.” Not connected, but united. …”rich in union…powerful in influence.” When I suffer, he suffers.
2. Mystical union. Unseen… Sacredly obscure, but spiritually experiential. “He who is joined to the Lord becomes one with him..” We can’t fully understand it but it is illustrated. The mystical union is essential. Married or not, we are joined to Him. He is our head and husband.
- The purpose of marriage is to illustrate our mystical union with Christ
- It is not for personal enrichment
- Every marriage is a picture of the mystical union.
- Marriage is meant to make us holy more than it is meant to make us happy.
- God uses marriage as a means of sanctification.
- Passion, excitement, etc are not bad, but they’re not the purpose.
“Marriage is a strengthening of character.”
“Before I was married, I thought it was a necessity to the flesh. Having been married, I see it as an opportunity for the Spirit.” – Martin Luther
(This next sermon focused on the wife’s role in marriage.)
Without sin, the husband would have governed with wisdom in the marriage relationship. Women would have submitted to him with meekness. But man has abused his authority, crushing woman under his heel. Likewise, women have had the desire to usurp the rule.
Thesis – A wife’s primary responsibility is to submit to the husband as to Christ.
Everything submission is not:
- Slavery. Slavery is the farthest thing you get from Proverbs 31.
- Silence. It doesn’t mean she agrees with everything he says.
- Inactivity. It does not mean that her gifts remain dormant.
- Inferiority. The wife is viewed equal, just as justified as the husband etc. Jesus is equal to the Father, yet submits to him.
What submission does mean…
A sacred calling to glorify God by….
- Affirming her husband’s leadership. It is not optional, but mandatory. And the commands God gives us gives us grace to do them.
- Mandatory – God commands it, and it is to be obeyed.
- Voluntary – not forced. It must be voluntary. Christ draws us with chords of love, not force, for submission. Regardless of the husband’s merit, God calls the wife to humbly and willingly submit. Our faith is exhibited in part by submitting to our earthly leaders.
- Spiritual – as unto the Lord. It takes God’s grace to submit to an imperfect being.
- Internal – it involves attitudes and actions. Christ’s food was doing the will of Him to whom He submits. He submitted joyfully. “It is my desire to do your will.” A cold, teeth-gritting submission is as good as a slavery capitulation. “Don’t expect your husband to be what only Jesus can be.” – Ruth Graham. (This was a charge to me… for the future:) I am to praise him, admire him, and respect/regard him in spite of his mistakes and sins.
- Extensive, not collective. “Wives should submit in everything.” Not when we feel like it. It will be hard, because we know and see his sins and weaknesses that no other human being can see. We were made as a finishing touch to him. To fill deficiencies and weaknesses. To bless him with our gifts. “If anyone fails to provide for relatives or family members, he is worse than a pagan.” – 1 Timothy. Why would a Christian wife be worse than a pagan if she doesn’t submit in such a way? She is holding in contempt God’s law, and trampling on the blood of the covenant. “Happy marriages are never accidental. They are the result of good, hard work.” – Ruth Graham.
- Intimate- conversations, the sharing of ideas, etc. Protection against immorality.
The next sermon was about the husband’s role in marriage…
Leadership is implied by the command for wives to submit. Husbands are to love their wives with a sacrificial love.
Husband = “master”; “lord.”
In Roman society the husband had the power of life and death. This kind of rule is anti-biblical.
Being a leader means being a servant. “For Christ came to the world, not to be served, but to serve.” This makes him a leader-servant. :)
“If he has a servant’s heart, he will act like a servant, react like a servant, when he is treated like a servant.” (I am really sorry, I was writing so frantically I didn’t catch the source of most of these quotes :( )
A husband must lead; striving for godliness, and leading in the spiritual road. The husband leads, for example, in the realm of obedience. Obedience to God and His commandments.
The essence of masculine leadership is courage. “Act like men, be strong.” This leadership must be exercised with great biblical courage. The wives become frustrated, and it’s because the husband isn’t leading in obedience.
Maleness = biological
Masculinity = spiritual.
The charge for husbands to love their wives as they love their bodies is simple… People care for their bodies. Generally, they shower, they feed it, they rest it, they exercise etc. A husband is to care for his wife in such a way. (Not feeding her, or telling her to go to bed… but looking after her needs and caring for them accordingly, as they would do for themselves.)
“Women tend to think of love as taking the troubles of others, while men tend to think of love as not giving trouble.”
It is hard for a man to love.
It is hard for a woman to respect.
Women understand how to love because they need to be loved.
Men understand respect because they need to be respected.
Yet in addition to loving, the wife must submit, and in addition to respecting, the husband must love.
Nothing exasperates a man like being disrespected. Nothing exasperates a woman like being unloved.
7 ways a husband demonstrates his love:
- The husband lives with his wife in an understanding way. (1 Peter) This is done by 1. living a biblical marriage and 2. studying your wife in order to know her in every way possible. Never consider this task completed.
- Giving instructions as needed. (1 Corinthians) Not formal teaching, but ongoing dialogue between them: constant washing in the Word. Husband = residential theologian in the home.
- Setting a good example. (Phil. 3) Nothign is worse than hypocrosy. Jesus’ severest reproof is reserved for hypocrites.
- Being a companion. (1 Cor. 7) Offering open conversation and listening patiently and attentively. Being a companion spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
- Being content with her. (Exodus – “Thou shalt not covet.”)
- Provide for her needs. “Husbands – you are no longer boys, but men. Grow up, and provide.” – (Billy Graham I think…)
- Cultivating her beauty by nurturing a lovely spirit. Christ didn’t find his bride beautiful. He made her beautiful. Treat her with courtesy. If a wife is not being treated properly, there are physical appearances of it.
- Good husbands are an example of Christ.
- God has given men a meek opportunity for a lasting legacy.
- God never requires something of you without giving you the grace.
* * *
That was way longer than I meant it to be… Ah well. That’s four sermons right there. Wish I could’ve written down everything I had. Please remember that these are notes I collected from a sermon, not from my own unreliable ideas and thoughts on the subject; otherwise, I would never have written about it. But it encouraged me as a young woman looking forward to marriage (Lord willing) and it helped me understand that that distinction about newly married couples is a mystery. It’s that mystical illustration of Christ’s union with the church. It’s that intimacy that binds their souls together. It’s so beautiful.
And at Ashlee and Daniel’s wedding this past weekend, I saw that manifested. What a joyous thing to witness a Christian marriage! Ashlee and I have been good friends for the past three years. We’ve shared thoughts, ideas, troubles, concerns, anything we learned… pretty much anything in letters or conversation. That friendship was very special. And it was so special being able to witness her commitment to Daniel. What a beautiful thing!
The following quote was quoted at Ashlee’s wedding, as well as in the sermons I posted about.
“The wife was made out of a rib from man’s side; not from his head to rule over him, not from his foot to be trampled by him, but from his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” – Matthew Henry
The bride’s dance with her father. This part of every wedding just gets me. There’s something so sweet, so beautiful, and yet so sad in it. Weddings are joyous, but there is a type of pain involved. It’s blissful.
All photo credits go to Rachel Clarke.