BACK TO THE BEGINNING
He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for his body just as Christ does the church – for we are members of His body. ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Eph. 5:29-33).
There we have it again! Back to the beginning.
Man always looks for loopholes to skirt God’s plan. When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about legitimate reasons for divorce, quoting Moses as their source and rabbis Hillel and Shammai as the recognised authoritative interpreters of God’s Law, Jesus took them back to God’s original intention for marriage.
Humans have introduced their own ideas about marriage and its purpose. Some believe that the union between a man and a woman is purely for the procreation of children. Once the family is complete, sexual union slows down and eventually stops and the relationship slowly deteriorates into nothing more than two people living under the same roof but going their separate ways.
Others treat marriage as a one-stop shop to get everything they need. If the spouse does not supply on demand, he or she shops elsewhere for what they want. Some even practise what they call “open marriage”, both marriage partners committing adultery with the other spouse’s permission, sometimes even together in the same room or in the same house.
Still others elevate their idea of marriage somewhat by seeing it as a union for companionship. The “best friend” concept is a lofty one but it still does not measure up to God’s intention for marriage.
Paul had an insight into this most sacred of unions which matched the explanation of Jesus by taking its elevated purpose in Christ to its highest level. Marriage presents a profound picture of the union between Christ and His church. Just as God intended Israel to be espoused to Him as His bride in the Old Testament, so Jesus proposed to His disciples to be His bride when the church was born on the Day of Pentecost. The church was to live in the most intimate of spiritual unions with their unseen Bridegroom and to await His return when their union would be consummated and complete.
However, this unity with Jesus in the Spirit should never be degraded into some mystical physical union. This is a union of heart, mind and purpose. The physical union of a man and a woman in a monogamous marriage is the picture of the oneness God desires to have with His people.
God is one. Each person in the Godhead submits to and participates in a perfect union of being and function. The Father planned, the Son executed and the Holy Spirit administers both creation and the “new creation”. They function in perfect harmony, both in who they are and what they do, without confusion or competition.
As the Godhead is one, so God desires that marriage should represent that oneness and that the family should uphold and protect unity in their relationship with one another through mutual submission. Jesus is God but He is also the Son. He came to earth to reveal the true nature of the Father and to model a real son. He lived in union with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit during His sojourn on earth by perfectly obeying, submitting to and depending on the Father and the Holy Spirit.
It is the role of the church, as the bride of Christ, to submit to and obey Him as Lord. In the same way, it is the role of the wife to submit to and obey her husband as her bridegroom as she is his bride, calling him “Lord” in the sense that he is the head. His role is to serve and take responsibility for her health and well-being, both spiritually and physically. Their mutual dependence will be harmonious when they each fulfil their own role without one trying to dominate or usurp the role of the other.
Love is the only environment in which a husband and wife will ever become one. When a husband focuses on the best interests of his wife in selfless love, she will be glad and willing to submit to his leadership because she knows that he will always do the best for her and the family.
This kind of love is neither humiliating nor degrading. It is the echo of the love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit share in their relationship with one another. It is the love into which the Godhead invites human beings as they participate in His life through faith in Christ. Enjoying and sharing the love of God is the essence of salvation.
How sad that salvation has been reduced to “going to heaven when we die” as though everything God did for us in Christ provides nothing more than an escape route from hell! How can we credit this God who is, in the enormity and mystery of His being incomprehensible love, with so beggarly a motive for sacrificing His Son? Come on, church!
Jesus came to give us back the life God breathed into man at the beginning – His life in all its fullness and beauty. He reiterated that purpose when He invaded planet earth to restore what God created at the beginning.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10b).
And this is the testimony; God has given us eternal life, and this life is in the Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:11-12).
When a husband and wife put themselves and self-interest aside to foster this unity through the power of the Holy Spirit, they will begin to grasp and experience the intensity of God’s love in ever-increasing measure just as He intended from the beginning.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.