For several weeks now, we have been exploring what I have called “The Big Seven.” These are the seven key issues that have great potential to either bless or curse a Christian marriage. I guess one might say they can be either the “Seven Deadly Sins” or the “Seven Life-Giving Blessings.” I hope you have been reading these posts with your spouses or fiancees, discussing them, searching the Scriptures referenced, and perhaps even using the posts to instruct your children.
These posts are not special or full of new ideas. I do not wish you to read them merely because I wrote them. Rather, what I have attempted to do is to explain and apply the words of God pertaining to marriage. To the extent I have, by the Spirit’s illuminating grace, rightly divided the word of truth, these posts will be successful. It is not my blog that will bless and strengthen your marriage. It is the Holy Spirit of God applying the Scriptures that ensure success.
To finish this series of posts, then, let me give you three key words that I think best capture God’s grand design for marriage. Marriage is, after all, His idea and His creation. So, let’s think on the design of the Designer.
- Image. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us God created mankind in His own image, “Male and female He created them.” We can hardly underestimate the importance of the doctrine theologians call the imago dei (image of God). In everything we do as humans, we are intended to image God, to reflect His goodness, mercy, love, creativity, and righteousness. Of course, sin has marred His image in us, but those redeemed in Christ are having His image restored day-by-day. Perhaps more than any other human relationship, marriage provides us the very best opportunity to show off God’s glorious image. So, husbands and wives, daily commit to seeking God’s grace and face to image Him to one another.
- Covenant. Malachi 2:14 tells us God is a “witness” between husbands and wives. The text continues and says, “She is your companion and your wife by covenant.” No doubt, this is why a few sentences later we read about God’s holy hatred for divorce. You see, our God is a Covenant Maker and a Covenant Keeper. In fact, many Bible scholars have summed up the Old Testament’s relationship to the New Testament as “Promises made – promises kept.” This is surely how Mary viewed her miraculous pregnancy (Luke 1:46-55). Zacharias, too, saw Jesus’ birth as God keeping His covenantal promise (Luke 1:67-79). Ditto for Simeon (Luke 2:29-32). God makes covenants with His people, and despite His people’s faithlessness, He proves faithful time after time. Here again, the lesson is obvious: Marriage, above all other human relationships, has the greatest potential to image and glorify and reflect our Covenant-Making God whose faithfulness is the very source of our salvation and eternal bliss.
- Christ. In the end, everything is about Him, isn’t it? God surely says so (Col 1; Heb 1). No surprise, then, that Paul tells us marriage is a showcase for the redeeming love of Christ for His people (Eph 5:22-33). Love between Christian husbands and wives is to reflect and image Christ, whose love is so amazing John wonders where in the world it comes from (1 John 3:1). It is other-worldly love, and we believers in Christ are called and enabled to share in it and give it (Rom 5:5; 1 Peter 1:22-23). Also no surprise, then, that at the end of time as we know it, we see the Blessed Bridegroom, King Jesus, showing off His bride, the church (Rev 21:9). And, then the Bride’s eyes will be twinkling with her Groom’s love – showing “the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:7). Christian marriage is about Jesus Christ. More than any other human relationship, it has potential to make His Name and Fame great, or to give the watching world reason to doubt His power and person.
With so much riding on Christian marriages, is it any wonder, then, that Paul writes to the Church at Corinth:
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): The wife should not separate from her husband, but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband; and the husband should not divorce his wife (1 Cor 7:10-11).
“Christian divorce” was simply inconceivable to Paul. I mean, in the previous chapter he had urged believers not to take other believers to court (1 Cor 6:1-8). Two married believers going to divorce court was more than the Apostle could bear to even consider! So, the Lord’s word to two genuinely saved people who are married is this: Stay married! But if you separate, your options are two – singlehood or reconciliation.
Not popular. Not what we hear from pulpits today. Not what we want to hear. And while I surely do not think divorce and remarriage is some kind of unforgiveable sin (the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin), I do long for our pulpits to once again be aflame with these words of our God.
Marriage is for His glory! Marriage is about Christ! Marriage is a workshop where Jesus is modeled! This is serious business, brothers and sisters! So get on your knees together and stay on your knees together as husband and wife crying out for God’s sovereign grace to carry and sustain you as you image Him, covenant with Him and one another, and radiate the love of the glorified Savior.
“What God has therefore joined together, let no man separate.” For Jesus’ sake. Amen.