MARRIAGE…is the union of one man and one woman as set forth in Genesis 1 and 2. Having been married for 58 years, Joanne and I know every imaginable thing about each other. And that is good, and sometimes not so good. We can start anticipating the other’s thoughts and motives inbred in them. Someone has said that spouses are each other’s sandpaper. God is shaping us. Sometimes he uses the course paper and then at times, the fine stuff.
Marriage has a far greater purpose that reshaping us, although that is a useful part of it. Most hope for children and grandchildren (great grandchildren are a bonus) plus a long and prosperous union. But there is more, much more! God began with one man, Adam. He then created Eve out of his body; then declared that it was very good, along with everything else he created. The most unique thing about it all to me is this. He made one, then two from one, and then tells them to become one again. Why? Good question. Let’s explore that. Before the fall introduced by disobedience, God said a man and woman would leave their parents and cleave to each other. Cleave is not just hanging out together, it’s actually ‘becoming one’!
Even after sin entered in, he never retracted the command. To cleave is to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly. Some synonyms are stick, adhere, cohere or cling. Stick implies attachment by affixing or by being glued together. Adhere is often interchangeable with stick but sometimes implies a ‘growing together’, like antibodies adhering to a virus. Simply put, cleave stresses ‘strength of attachment’. An example would be a wet shirt cleaving to one’s body. But this does not answer the why.
Our pastor has spent three weeks on I Peter 3. All were powerful messages on this very subject. He said something that stuck with me. “Marriage is the soil of growing glory.” Marriage is the single most powerful earthly witness to God and his glorious nature! The Trinity is three, but one; and by design he has formulated means to fulfill all his kingdom plans spoken to Adam from the beginning in the garden, where marriage began. Husband, wife and children—three but one! And in today’s very broken world, it is even more a reflection of his glory. ‘How does it do that’, you ask?
Mankind has been made in the image of the Triune God. He spoke that when he said; “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1.26). Simply put, if we in fact are obediently following this design, we are reflecting him (them). And we are showing forth the glory of God. Man’s chief end is to bring glory to God and enjoy him forever. And so marriage of one man and one woman was created to fulfill that very end. When the husband is obeying God and enabling his family to flourish, and when the wife is doing the same, it brings the Lord glory. Both were created equal, but with different roles. He is to love her as Christ loves the church, and she is to respect her husband as his helper.
So, where do we get the model for marriage to accomplish this? From Christ! He is the bridegroom who laid down his very life for his bride, the church. In perfect submission, he humbled himself. He asked his Father in another garden, Gethsemane, to take the cup from him if possible, but if not, then nevertheless he would obey. And he did! Each person in a marriage has his/her own wants and needs, some very selfish, and usually we strive to get our way. Pride is usually present in our decisions and actions. But when we look at Christ, he subjected his will to the will of his Father. Pride must give way to humility.
When we do this, we too are growing glory in the soil of our marriage. The scriptural model of this humility is set out in Philippians 2.5-11. Read and meditate on these, but I’ll close with portions and the results of Christ’s humility. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Dig deep into the soil of your marriage; plant seeds that will produce glory to God.