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Published Date: July 30, 2009

Published Date: July 30, 2009

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The Splendor of Marriage

The greatness of marriage is surely evident by its chronological place in the divine plan of creation, its crucial importance in the permanency and development of the human race, and the pivotal place of the great statement of Genesis 2:24:

A man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and they will become one flesh. (TNIV)

This pronouncement is not merely a part of the biblical narrative; Jesus presented it as a statement of God himself: “. . . the Creator . . . said” (Matt. 19:4–5). Paul emphasizes that “our bodies are members of Christ himself” (1 Cor. 6:15–16) and that sexual intercourse, even when thought to be a “casual incident,” involves the unity spoken of in “the two will become one flesh.” When discussing the nature and obligation of Christian marriage, Paul also quotes this passage (Eph. 5:31) and adds:

This is a great mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:32)

As it is proper for any plan of a purposing being, what is at the end is really the aim from the start of the whole approach. Thus, while sexual reproduction is perceived as a major method of the reproduction of life, its presence in plants and animals is only a step in the supreme significance of human marriage in God’s counsel, which is the culmination of the whole process of divine creation.

Already in the Old Testament, the union in human marriage is illustrative of the relation of God to his people Israel. This is strikingly exhibited in the whole book of Hosea and may be found in other prophetic writings: Isaiah 1:21, 62:5; Micah 1:7; Jeremiah 2:20–25, 3:1–3, 6–10, 13:25–27; Ezekiel 16:15–43, 23:1–49. John the Baptist called Jesus “the bridegroom” (John 3:29), an expression that Jesus also used with reference to himself (Matt. 9:15, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:34). This concept is also implicit in the parables of the wedding feast (Matt. 22:1–14) and of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1–13). In Ephesians 5:22–23, Paul grounds his prescriptions for Christian marriage on its parallelism with the union of Christ and his church.

If we ask what is the climactic terminal of God’s saving purpose, we naturally turn to the end of the great book of Revelation (Rev. 19:7, 9; 21:2–3, 9, 22, 23; 22:4–5). There, we find that the consummation of history is the wedding feast of the Lamb. This is the fulfillment of the great promises of Jesus:

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)

You will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20)

Remain in me, and I also remain in you. (John 15:4)

. . . they may be one as we are one. (John 17:11)

. . . all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. (John 17:21)

. . . may they be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. (John 17:22–23)

Human marriage is the divinely ordained foreshadowing and antitype. Christ’s marriage to the church is the divinely ordained fulfillment and type: “This is a profound mystery . . . talking about Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).

The eschaton will reveal the full unity among the three persons of the Trinity, and, specifically, between the Father and the Son (John 10:30); the full unity among all of God’s redeemed people as the church (Acts 20:28, Eph. 5:30); and the full marital unity between the incarnate Son and the church (Eph. 5:29–31). The three unities will be manifested in their indissoluble tie with one another. One might venture to say that God’s purpose in creation and redemption is to provide a bride for the Son!

It is not surprising, therefore, that Satan has made a special effort to drag into the mud of evil the sublime purpose of
God. Fornication, promiscuity, prostitution, cohabitation without permanent commitment, adultery, incest, rape, homosexuality, pedophilia, bestiality, eroticism, indecency, pornography,
and all kinds of sexual excesses and perversions, in which our cultures seem to be drenched, are so many ways in which Satan attempts to deride and degrade the holy purpose of God. In
each of these, Satan sneers, “That is what I think of your master purpose.”

Surely, it behooves us to consider how seriously God has punished immorality in the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19), in the divine command to wipe out the Canaanites (Deut. 7:2), in the demise of great civilizations of the past (Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman).

How important it is, therefore, to oppose steadfastly such trends, not by asceticism or divorce, or by an undue emphasis on the single life, but by a wholehearted commitment to the marital union, the family, and the home, and a resolute opposition to the destructive trends that surround us on all sides.