Three Ways Marriage Reflects the Gospel
Written by Rev. Paul Tucker
This August I will have had the privilege of being married to my incredible wife Katie for five years. I know, miracles definitely happen! These past five years have taught me much about the gift of marriage as well as the gift of the Gospel and they can provide a wonderful metaphor of each other. There is a reason the Bible often uses marriage imagery and language when speaking about Jesus’s work on the cross. These are simply a few of the ways God has shown me the connection between marriage and the Good News:
(1) Marriage reveals character.
I remember during our engagement being so excited because after a year of friendship, a couple years of dating and a year-long engagement I knew the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with really well. Then I got married and suddenly the person staring back at me in the mirror didn’t look so familiar.
That’s right, I am talking about myself. Before I was married I thought I understood who I was – my strengths, weaknesses and everything in between. But shortly after the “I do’s” I realized I had a lot to learn!
That’s because marriage, by design, reveals to those within the marriage much of your character. When the Bible speaks of marriage partners becoming “one flesh” (Gen 2:24) it means you promise and commit to becoming spiritually, emotionally and physically closer to another person than you ever were previously. Your very life is now inextricably interwoven with another’s. You are forced to come face to face with your spouse’s and (more importantly) your own character’s strengths and weaknesses.
For example, I noticed early on in our marriage I often found myself dealing with a bad attitude whenever Katie asked me to run errands with her especially on my days off. After much thought, prayer and “encouragement” from Katie I realized how selfishly I thought of my time and how quick I was to get upset at her for “violating” my time to do what I wanted (or so I thought!). I didn’t consider her own feelings of running errands not being how she wanted to spend her time either, but being together made the errands much more enjoyable for her. This realization has helped me see how I react to other “interruptions” in “my” time as well and helped me to pray and work at putting Katie and others ahead of myself.
(2) Marriage teaches us the cost of truly loving another person.
Some of the most powerful and beautiful passages of Scripture about marriage come from Ephesians 5:21-33. Often misinterpreted, misunderstood and poorly taught these verses are many times glanced over in today’s time because of contentious words like “submit”. But in reality, the Apostle Paul’s teaching on marriage begins not with the command for wives to submit to their husbands, but for all Christians to first submit to Christ (v. 21). Then he tells wives to submit to their husbands (v. 22) before finishing with commands for husbands to love their wives (v. 25-30). In Paul’s commands for husbands to love their wives, he references specifically Christ’s giving himself up for the church indicating, if anything, a stronger, more radical command for husbands to selfless lay down their lives for the love and care of their wives as Christ did for us.
When understood correctly and lived faithfully, Paul’s words to married couples indicate that the transforming power of the great mystery of marriage stems from both people first submitting their lives to the love and command of Jesus Christ. Then, empowered by the love of God, both are to emulate the very love and grace he demonstrated on the cross through selflessly placing your spouse’s needs and desires ahead of your own. Too often we witness and experience in dating relationships and marriages the opposite of this, leading to abuse, heartache and resentment. My own marriage has taught me just how important, how costly and how joyful it is live with these verses and Christ in mind and in practice.
(3) Marriage invites a life of worship.
Perhaps most incredible way marriage reflects the Gospel is how joining your life together with your spouse invites a life of worship. I have been reminded constantly of the love of my Savior through the love, forgiveness, joy, laughter and tears my wife and I have shared these past five years. Whether it’s hiking together in Oregon, rescuing lost dogs around the neighborhood, sharing a meal together with the homeless during Room in the Inn, quoting the show “The Office” constantly or forgiving one another, our marriage has always left me thanking and praising God for the gift he has given me. I am thankful for the bond and promises Katie and I made with each other five years ago which empower us to live for today and tomorrow.
Mostly, I am thankful for Jesus. I am thankful marriage invites us each day to see how the Gospel reveals to us our true character as people alienated from God and one another by seeking meaning, love, significance and acceptance in temporary and selfish things and relationships. I am thankful for the incredibly costly, selfless vows Christ took in garden, saying “not my will, but yours be done”. I’m thankful for the life-giving sacrifice of love and forgiveness our sinless, perfect Savior died so we would no longer be alienated from God, but joined together through His promise and His bond. I am thankful for the Spirit which makes these realities true each day teaching me to trust in Christ as I seek to be a faithful, loving spouse to the best person in the world. As Jesus is for us!