Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Marriage is the Display of God

"Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It displays the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people to the world in a way that no other event or institution does. Marriage, therefore, is not mainly about being in love. It's mainly about telling the truth with our lives. And staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant and putting the glory of Christ's covenant-keeping love on display." - John Piper

What a beautiful and concise definition of marriage. I have officiated countless weddings. I rejoice with the dreamy looking couple, so much in love with one another and looking forward to a brand new life ahead. I have seen both groom and bride, crying unashamedly as they make their vows to one another, touched by the moment of romance and commitment as they recite: "For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part."

They wake up the next morning to the realization that they will be together for the rest of their lives and there's no more going home after their date. Then the truth sinks in when they realize how different they are and how they need to adapt to each other's idiosyncrasies. The "happily ever after" feeling begins to deteriorate to "happily never after". The preconceived fantasy of your ideal spouse or the perfect marriage dissipates quickly. You embark on a reform program to change the other person, misconstruing the phrase "and the two shall become one" to mean that your spouse will become like you and your fantasized ideal. You expect your spouse to click the like button on your facebook page to every post and eventually a sense of desperation triggers the inevitable private thought: WHAT HAVE I DONE?

I often counsel couples that real love only truly begin after the wedding day. While one may choose to stop seeing each other for awhile after an argument during courtship, you return to the same room and sleep on the same bed after you are married. How do you deal with that? 

Hence love kicks in:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
1 Cor 13:4-7

Marriage is therefore a covenant with each other. What's the difference between a covenant and a contract? A social contract is a legally binding document or agreement between two persons that requires both parties to abide by its terms and upon the non-compliance of any of these terms, the contract can be broken. A covenant on the other hand is agreed upon in accordance to God's laws, or in the Name of God. It is a vow that cannot be broken. Matthew 19:4-6 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  

Notice thus the beauty of the wedding or marriage vows "till death do us part." It gives the confidence and hope for a marriage sustained in love (not primarily of emotions but of commitment) since there is no back door. Divorce is NOT an option. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Here's a beautiful demonstration of God's love. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God made a covenant with us and in spite of our imperfections and sins, He loves us anyway. He is saying "I love you not because of, but in spite of." In the same way, He expects our marriages to illustrate that principle. 

" Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, 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." (Ephesians 5:22-33, NIV) 

I agree therefore wholeheartedly with John Piper that marriage is the display of God! So is your marriage displaying God?

1 comment:

  1. Thank You for a most enlightening post. I shall in future refer to marriage as a covenant rather than a contract.