Studying this subject of what Christian Marriage is I came to a powerful conclusion
Many folk have many different views on marriage, for example “Marriage is made in heaven….so is thunder and lightning!”
It is sometimes said that marriage is ‘someone agreeing to sleep in a room that is too warm with someone sleeping in a room that is too cold’. Dr Martin Lloyd Jones, however is clear that “the Christian view of marriage is something that is essentially different from all other views”
LOOKING THE OTHER WAY
Paul’s teaching to the church at Ephesus is set in a culture not too distant from today’s. He was there for 3 years and his letter reflects this. In a city teeming with self-centred gratification and idolatry he reminds the Christians there that they have been “blessed us in the heavenly realms”, they are “God’s possession – to the praise of his glory” and “a dwelling in which God lives by his spirit”. As a result they “have been made new in the attitude of (their) minds” and have “put on the new self” We have to choose which ‘way to face’ and the pressures of our own culture can be both powerful and subtle in turn!
WHOSE IDEA IS MARRIAGE?
- “I think same sex couples should be able to get married” Barak Obama May 2012
- Nick Herbert MP, who is in a civil partnership said “I consider myself to be a Christian and I’ve never in my life felt more distant from the church than I do at the moment!”
I ask “Who has moved, who has changed?” Paul says marriage is a “profound mystery”. The Christian Church has always heard Jesus “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning “created them male and female”? and He said, “For this reason a man shall leave father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” The teaching has never changed. One man, one woman for life. Paul teaches that marriage is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church.
To Timothy Paul says “For bodily exercise is profitable to a little, but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the present life now, and of that coming.” Christian lifestyle is of benefit not just for the future but for now also. I appreciate that I will be attacked for saying stuff like this. Sorry, this is my belief and can I in all conscience say anything I don’t believe?
Paul says “Wives, submit…!” Gilbert Bilezikiam claims “Death and male dominance are satanic in their origin”. Nancy Sehested said “I’ve been beaten up by St Paul for the past 20 years” It is easy to dismiss this instruction as out of date. Perhaps if Paul had started with the husbands it would be more palatable! But as Christians wives ought to submit as the church does to Christ. This is not for those without faith, and so Christian marriage is essentially different to all other views. Wives submission is a choice, it is motivated by Christ and it is unconditional!
Husbands are asked to love their wives as Christ loved the church – wow, how is this possible! Love as Christ loves the church, again it is a choice, it is motivated by Christ and it is unconditional!
Do not mistake a corruption or abuse of this teaching as the real thing! This is no license to abuse our spouses it is a teaching of radical love.
WHAT NOT TO DO!
Why do we assume success in marriage is automatic? In no other walk of life would we expect this. In some strict Christian communities those who fail in marriage are made to wearing failure as a garment, like sackcloth for all to see!
It is time to stop judging and start sharing.
Do not despair, do not surrender, the ideal is still there because it is not man made – it has Christ at the centre!
2. Treat as a law
“You have to love me”, “well you have to submit to me”, “well I would if you submitted”, “well I would if you loved me” etc. God’s blessings are not brought through law but through grace. We must see the selfless, powerful, radical grace of Christ at the centre of marriage.
3. Live someone else’s marriage
“Love your own husbands”, is what Paul says. “Love your wives” not someone elses and don’t compare your marriage to someone else’s!
“leave your parents” So don’t compare, don’t judge, don’t run someone’s marriage for them.
LIVE AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT!
This is all good in theory, Christ expects our lives to reflect him – how can my marriage be a witness to Christ, it seems such a tall order even when we are in love, there is still selfishness in my heart!
Well the lesson I learned (see heading!) is that even if the reflection of Christ and the Church is less than perfect, nevertheless marriage is perfect and cannot be pulled down to our level of success of failure. Christ has such generosity and selflessness that it inspires us to be like him even when we fall short. Christ is mentioned 49 times in Ephesians – He makes all the difference! Taken seriously, marriage can be a witness to the world!