by Tim Popadic
Each morning when I wake up I am reminded of the gift that God gave me over 21 years ago when I took the vow “to love my wife as Christ loves His church.” 21 years, 3 children, 3 homes, 3 states, 8 cars, 4 churches, 272 visits to the doctor, 7665 days, and over 11 million minutes, we are definitely embracing oneness. There have been plenty of great and difficult moments along the way, but through it all, no one has ever demonstrated the unconditional love of Christ to me more than Beth. What amazes me about Ephesians 5:25 is that God utilized the very analogy of His death (this is the only time in scripture) to highlight the importance of the marriage relationship. From the front cover of the Bible to the last page is a beautiful story of marriage. I’m speaking of Christ and His Bride, the Church. God values marriage and He values relationships.
I believe that Time Life got it right, “No other single force is causing as much measurable hardship in this country as the collapse of marriage.” 1 It’s wreaking havoc among even the least of these. Think about it, everyone and everything is impacted by the devastating effects of divorce. “A lasting covenant between a man and a woman can be a vehicle for the nurture and protection of each other, the one reliable shelter in an uncaring world – or it can be a matchless tool for the infliction of suffering on the people you supposedly love above all others, most of all on your children.” Jesus, questioned by a group of religious men, was asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” They continued by asking, “Why then did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. BUT IT WAS NOT THIS WAY FROM THE BEGINNING!” (Matthew 19:8) In other words, what’s permitted is not necessarily what was purposed.
Ask yourself the question, “Why does marriage matter to God?” It’s simple: It’s a radical, “in your face” concept – marriage is about holiness, not happiness. Society has made it about happiness … interesting, isn’t it, that the ultimate collapse of our society comes from a belief that we are entitled to be happy … and so pursue happiness at all costs. Yet, it’s in the sacrament of marriage that we find the key to what we’re seeking. It’s a holy moment where we stand before our friends, family, and God, taking vows for a lifetime, for better or for worse. It’s when we invite God to be present with us in our deepest relationship. “For marriage, as simply as it can be defined, is the contemplation of the love of God in and through the form of another human being.” (The Mystery of Marriage, Mike Mason)
The following passage in 1 Peter reveals the truth about introducing holiness into your marriage, as if it’s a mystery ready to be revealed. “In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives. Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” I Peter 3:1-7.
One author writes about the marriage relationship being like “God with flesh on.” The closest representation I have of God in my life is my spouse. We are to reflect the very image of God to each other. Pastors ask the question, “Does my marriage matter?” Ultimately, the state of our marriage impacts and reflects the state of our relationship with God. It’s our godly lives that will speak volumes … without words … but through actions. It’s giving and receiving honor … and being considerate of the other. Embracing holiness requires intentionality, journeying together, being “God with flesh on” to each other, and enjoying the gracious gift of new life that only God can bring. Why settle for happiness when you can embrace holiness?
1 Is There Hope for the American Marriage?, Time Life, Thursday July 02, 2009 http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1908434,00.html