Preparing for marriage is a potentially stressful time! So much to think about – date, location, dress, suits, flowers, service order, seating plans, reception venue, food, music and so much more. But, of course, I’ve got that wrong … that’s just preparing for a wedding! That’s just a single day. But being prepared for Marriage is about so much more. But I wonder, which do you think gets the most thought before we are married – the Wedding Day or the marriage itself?
Interestingly, the Bible is rather silent on the nature or contents of the Wedding Day, but has a lot to say about Marriage. And interestingly in the opportunities I have had to run a ‘Marriage Preparation Course for the Already Married’ I have often found surprise at how much teaching God has towards marriage – surprise expressed even by some who have been married for many years! So, maybe for you this is a great prompter to find out more about what the Bible says!
But let me ask you one question right now: Why are you married?
Now let me say straight away that there are many good (and correct) answers to this question! Hopefully you’ll immediately say ‘Because I love him/her’ (Eph 5:25, Col 3:19). Also, hopefully, that physical desire you had for one another is as passionate now as it was when you first met (Prov 5:18). If you have had a family, your stable marriage, living out Jesus in the home, is central as you bring up your children well in the Lord (Deut 6:1-9). Also it’s vital that you constantly live out the reality that you need one another (Gen 2:18), are being bound ever closer together (2 Cor 6:14) and are deeply knit together in every way (Gen 2:24, Mk 10:8). Each one of these must be a living reality at the heart of our marriages.
But there is a vital answer we shouldn’t miss. It’s embedded in the teaching of Eph 5:22-33. Paul uses marriage as an illustration of Jesus’ love for the church, and the church’s response to His love. And he’s only reflecting here the teaching of the whole of scripture (e.g. Is 54:5). The point is that your marriage is not primarily for yourself, or for your children. Ultimately your marriage is there to bring glory and honour to the Lord, to illustrate His love, to picture Jesus to the world.
The husband constantly shows sacrificial love to their wife to “make her holy, cleansing her, … to present her holy” is because that is Jesus’ purpose for His church (v25-28). The wife’s sacrificial submission to her husband’s sacrificial love is because that is how the church responds to Christ’s love (v22-24). You draw close together as one because that deep ‘one flesh’ unity is also Jesus’ work in His church (v31).
In Col 3:17 we read “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”. It’s a repetition of the teaching of 1 Cor 10:31 “…whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God”. All we do is to be for His glory. But our marriages? Yes, our marriages too! – Col 3:18 goes on immediately to speak of our marriages!
What is your marriage for? Ultimately, foundationally, you are ‘married for God’! I wonder how understanding this might transform our marriages now, and our married life to come? Maybe there are attitudes to confess or change, maybe there are divisions to heal, maybe there is time, or love, to be more freely given. Whatever it is, if God has given you the blessings of marriage, may God receive the glory He is due in every part of your marriage.