This weekend I have the privilege to lead a marriage retreat at Rolleston Baptist church where I serve as Pastor.
This is always one of the must humbling things I do as a Pastor. I say ‘humbling’, because, other than parenting, there is no other subject which so clearly reveals my own sin. I say ‘privilege’ because it is a tremendous privilege to serve God’s people and seek to minister the truths of God’s Word.
I actually don’t believe there has ever been a time since Genesis 2 where everyone held to a biblical view of marriage. Perhaps there have been times when a particular society seemed to uphold biblical norms on such things more, but in general I believe marriage has been under attack since sin entered man’s heart back in Genesis 3.
However, perhaps one thing that sets our generation apart from previous times is how blatantly marriage is being attacked from within the ranks of the ‘church’ itself!
1. Marriage was God’s idea (Genesis 1 & 2, Ephesians 5:32)
Although our governments (and governments around the world) have taken it upon themselves to redefine marriage, it is not actually their role to do so. Before the foundation of the world, God ordained human marriage for His glory and as a picture of something profound.
2. Marriage is a promised covenant picturing the covenant love Christ has for His church. (Ephesians 5:32)
Marriage is not firstly about finding one’s “soul mate,” or the person you cannot live without. It is certainly not about finding that person who will make you happy and meet all of your needs.
According to God’s Word, marriage is a covenant. A promise. A promised covenant picturing the enduring, faithful, selfless, sacrificial covenant Christ has made with his bride the church.
a. Marriage is painted with the brush of grace from the palette of forgiveness.
Consistent with the image to which human marriage points, we are in need of grace and forgiveness each and every day. Two sinners (even if redeemed sinners) who seek to build a relationship of covenant faithfulness will inevitably cause each other much harm.
As a result no marriage can survive, let alone thrive without the daily practice of grace and forgiveness. Vertically first – each party daily dependant on God’s grace and experiencing his continual forgiveness. Horizontally – each party “bending” the grace and forgiveness they have received from God toward each other in covenant love.
This highlights the reality that – Marriage not only pictures the gospel, it is made possible by the gospel.
b. Marriage must contain particular elements or will be a distorted portrait.
A man and a woman (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6).
Biblically, a committed relationship between two individuals of the same gender cannot be considered a marriage. This is not stated here to be insensitive or unnecessarily pedantic. Rather it is simply to state what Christ has stated and the Scriptures affirm from beginning to end.
A husband and a wife of serve/complement one another (Genesis 2:18-25; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-33).
God purposefully designed marriage so that it would be a picture of his overflowing love toward his people through His Son Jesus Christ.
In the image toward which marriage points, there is one head and one who follows the head. Christ is the head and the church is to follow.
Therefore in order for a marriage to accurately portray this, each member must understand and grow in their complimentarian role. God has created the husband and wife equal in value and worth, equal in dignity, yet different in role and function.
This, of course, is clearly understood is many areas of society. I don’t see any major objections to ladies having closer tees on the golf course, or gender specific events in the Olympics, etc. Nor do I see a huge any uprising internationally demanding equality in the physiological capacity to bear children.
We do understand men and women are different. This is how God has designed His world. In order for His purpose of marriage to be fulfilled it must not be distorted by our refusal to lively thankfully in the role he has designed for us.
Helpful books on marriage:
Keller, Timothy J., and Kathy Keller. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. New York: Dutton, 2011.
Piper, John. This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2009