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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Part 3 of “What I Believe About Marriage”

I started off this series (Part 1) by stating that I believe God is the creator and designer of marriage. In Part 2 I explained how I think there are some eternal, biblical principles that God has established. These are principles that we should not stray away from or weaken based on what we see or experience, but instead choose to believe that every marriage has the potential to reach the fullness of what God intends.

In both of those first two posts I made reference to the fact that the Bible often refers to Jesus as our Bridegroom and to you and me (the church) as His bride. Though there are other analogies for our spiritual relationship with God (Father/son, Cornerstone/building, etc.), none other is so powerful in its application to marriage.

This leads me to the second of my basic biblical marriage principals: God has revealed to us a template for the ideal marriage in the relationship between Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5, perhaps the Bible’s clearest and most informative passage on God’s marriage design, makes this principle rather clear:
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:31-32 (NKJ)

The first part of that passage (verse 31) refers back to God’s original institution of marriage, the one between Adam and Eve. Verse 32 then ties that institution directly the bridal relationship between Christ and the church. This is what I (and others) refer to as the bridal paradigm.

It is this bridal paradigm principle that has, more than any other, affected my understanding of my own marriage. As I began to dig deeper into this notion that I am the much-loved bride of Christ, I started to see all kinds of parallel principles between my spiritual relationship with Jesus and my martial relationship with my wife. Even though I’ve been going pretty hard after this notion for several years now, I still feel I am just on the very front end of understanding what Paul calls “a great mystery.”

As I move forward with this series and begin to discuss further what I believe about marriage, you will see this notion of the bridal paradigm pop up frequently. As I said, it is one of my core beliefs about marriage.

At the outset, however, I should clarify what I see as the limitations to the marriage analogy.
  • Jesus came as a man, but he was also fully God. Husbands are not gods or in any way exalted beings over wives. Period.
  • Jesus alone came to give us eternal life and no one but he has the power to forgive sins. A husband cannot be the “savior” of his wife, though he may well desire to be her “hero.”
  • Jesus is the perfect role model for all people, both men and women, and as such there are plenty of bridal paradigm principles that apply equally to men and women.
  • The bridal analogy of Jesus and the church obviously stops short of the sexual and physical relationship between husband and wife, though there are certainly spiritual parallels that do very aptly apply.

How brilliant for God to give us a living template of how he wants marriage to work!! At least I think so. What about you?

Continue to Part 4:  An Ordered Partnership


Strong Man said...

Again--right on! The scriptures are full of examples of this analogy. And I agree with and appreciate the list of limitations you placed on this analogy right upfront.

One nice thing about this paradigm is that is shows up so many different times and in different ways in the Bible. We don't have to lean so hard on a couple verses in Ephesians 5 to understand and debate roles in marriage. We can look to Christ and His example.

I've listed a collection of these "Bridal Paradigm" scriptures in my recent post: Christ as Bridegroom, Church as Bride . Also, I discuss some thoughts on ways to apply this analogy in As Christ Loved the Church .

I'm look forward to reading more of your application of this analogy.

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