Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Theology of Marriage

Everything is theological. We can't do anything without it communicating something about how we understand God. Theology isn't restricted just to textbooks and PhD's. Theology influences every single thing we do.
Can you think of an example of something you do that does not tell someone else how you view God? Why do you eat what you eat? Why do you eat shrimp? Why do you drink alcohol or not drink alcohol? Why do you watch or not watch the movies you watch...or don't watch? Why are you reading this? Why did you not want to read this initially? Why do you work? Why do you stay at home?
Theology, like God himself, is inescapable. Everything that exists does so within a theological framework. Whether you believe mountains exist as the result of a cosmic explosion and erosion over millions of year or whether you believe mountains exist as the result of God speaking them into existence and thousands of years of erosion (accompanied by at least 1 catastrophic event), you are coming to that belief without divorcing that belief from some concept of God. 

Notice I am using a capital 'g.' That's because everything people do is either in accordance with or in rebellion to God. No one doesn't know He exists. Everyone knows He exists and that they've sinned against Him. You've never met an atheist (Romans 1). None of us need to prove God exists or that YHWH is The God. People, all people, were created in His image and inherently understand this to be absolutely true. That's why the world does what it does; it's in a perpetual state of rebellion.

Marriage is another avenue where we can travel down the road of rebellion and mar the name of God. Theologically, what is marriage? I think if we can figure this out, we'll all be better off. 
Not sure who created this but it's solid

God intended to communicate something to man when He instituted marriage. 
(Genesis 2:18-25)

  • It's not good for man to be alone 
    • God declared that man shouldn't live in isolation
    • God declared that only woman was suitable for man
      • Beasts of the field and birds of the earth weren't a good helpmate 
    • God declared that a man leaves his father and mother to join with his wife 
      • In their original state there was no shame of nakedness
We learn that God wanted marriage as a means of help. There's too much for just me to do. I needed a helpmate. Not just to do chores around the house but to live as a human being. Life is too complicated and draining to go at it alone. It's not good if I try to live as a hermit. Have you ever read the book "Into the Wild" or seen the movie? The protagonist understood this concept. He realized life wasn't meant to be lived in solitude. We also learn about the dominion or prominence of human beings over and above all other creatures. Was marriage given to any creature but man?  

I bet a 2016 version has esteem as the base
God specially made woman. Let's not take that lightly. Woman was created in a different manner than man and all the other creatures. She was formed from man. Man was formed from dust. We also learn that God's design for marriage is that we cling to the spouse and, in a sense, release the parents. The marriage then becomes the preeminent relationship in a person's life. The hierarchy changes. It's now God>Spouse>Family. That cannot be overstated. 

"Haha! You're stuck with me!"
No shame?? They just ran around naked??
Yes! They had yet to know good and evil and thus knew nothing of what they could be embarrassed about or be ashamed of. Hard to imagine? Of course. I'm not sure I really get it. But that'show deeply sin has infected human nature. We can't imagine people running around in the nude and not caring...unless you have little ones. They just parade around without clothes or in non-matching clothes or clothes that don't fit. They don't care. Why? Because they're innocent. 

Most of this is refresher, right? What's really going on with marriage? What's the real deal? Why's this so deeply theological apart from just rebelling against God's design for the institution, Tim? Why is a bad marriage or even divorce such a reproach? 

There is really just 1 passage I really want to focus on. 
Ephesians 5:22-33(NASB)Marriage Like Christ and the Church22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
What happens when we betray God's design for marriage isn't just that we rebel against His instructions - what happens is that we defile a beautiful picture of the Gospel.  We see here clearly that marriage wasn't just for human flourishing but it was created to give us a tangible image of Christ's redemptive work on behalf of His bride (the church). 

Don't make this man your standard
So when a wife betrays her husband, defames him or refuses to submit to him she's not merely disobeying God's instructions. She's tainting an image of the Gospel. Imagine the church speaking ill of Christ or the church pursuing an idol! Yikes! 

And then when a husband doesn't fulfill his obligations...This is really bad. REALLY BAD. When a husband fails to do what he is obligated and sworn to do he is tarnishing the Gospel as the one representing Christ. If he fails to love his wife? Imagine Christ failing to love the church. If He fails to teach her and lead her? Imagine Christ letting us figure stuff out on our own. If He failed to protect us? We'd have no chance! Literally, we'd be done. If Christ left us for another? If He left us for someone who wasn't even the very ones He died for??? WHAT??? Can you even imagine?

Think about every failure of a husband in those terms. What if Christ failed in that way? I'm not trying to beat husbands up about failing to be good spouses, I am trying to devastate them. Isn't this heavy? It's too great a burden to bear, right? Yes. Yes it is. Thankfully we have help. We have the Holy Spirit living in us, we have Christ as the ultimate example and we have the grace of God when we fail. Every time we fail. Amen? 

How do we even do it? How do any of us stay married? I drive Melanie crazy! I'm insensitive. I'm super sensitive. I'm lazy. I'm not home enough. All these things are at times 100% true. I don't know how she lives with me! But I also do. 

What motivates her is what motivates me. We both committed to being and staying married to one another. I chose her and she chose me. We choose to love one another just as we choose to obey God. There's nothing mystical or serendipitous about our love. It's just old fashioned grit and determination. What unites us, as they say, is strong than what could ever divide us. We are united and motivated by our affection for Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives and in our resolve to glorify Him with our lives we subsequently become better spouses. Also, when we fail one another we are motivated by grace and love because had God not given either of us grace to believe or loved us first, then neither of us could believe or love Him. So this grace that saves us is now the grace that saves our marriage. How arrogant would I be to deny my wife forgiveness or not be gracious towards her after God has clearly forgiven me more and given me more grace? 

All my actions in regards to Melanie should be Gospel oriented. I'm not saying they are, I'm just saying they should be! That needs to be my motivation for being a husband. I need to love my wife just as Christ loved the church. This institution we call marriage didn't happen to coincide with Christ's love for the church. 
"Oh look how marriage between man and woman is like Christ's love for the church. What a useful illustration!" 
No no no.
God intentionally created marriage with redemption in mind. Let that soak in. 

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