A few years ago when I really grabbed a hold of the revelation that Christianity is a relationship with God not a religion about God my walk with Christ took off. After that I read the New and Old Testaments with a different lens and saw that all of it was God just trying to get His creation back to Him and return everything to the way it was.
While reading Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge I read in the 2nd chapter
“The Bible begins and ends with marriage” it took me back through the past 7 or so years of growth in God and inspired me to finally write this blog.
Now being a newly wed I am finally on the other side of the fence and can see things more fully. Before marriage I had studied marriage so much, asked advice from couples, read books, heard sermons, read the scriptures so much that I felt I was nearly qualified to give married people advice and counseling even though I wasn’t married myself at the time! Perhaps now that I am actually married I can speak publicly about marriage and pretend I know what I am talking about.
I have always wanted to be married, it’s been one of those God given desires of mine ever since I was young. The neat thing was that my two desires: to know God more, and to be married were not that different of things! I realized that they are very similar, or rather, one came from the other.
To me, marriage is the coolest thing! It is a perfect image of the union God wants us to achieve with Him. It’s like God thought to Himself during creation “Well I know things are going to get pretty messy between Me and my humans so I’m going to give them a gift, it’s going to be simple, enjoyable and helpful but underneath it all it’s really just a hidden blueprint for what I want with them – unity.”
Every thing that leads to a healthy and happy marriage has its place in the story of God’s redemption of mankind – sacrifice, reward, trust, submission, intimacy, life, new beginnings, and selflessness. I think the best way for a man to learn how to be a real husband would be for him to study the Word of God and see how God loved, interacted with, and sacrificed for His bride – us.
Speaking of us being the bride of God let’s look at some incredible passages concerning the typology of marriage.
Isa 54:5-6 – For your Maker [is] your husband, The LORD of hosts [is] His name; And your Redeemer [is] the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.
For the LORD has called you Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, Like a youthful wife when you were refused,” Says your God.
Jer 3:1 – “They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, And she goes from him And becomes another man’s, May he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says the LORD.
Jer 3:20 – Surely, [as] a wife treacherously departs from her husband, So have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,” says the LORD.
Hsa 3:1 – Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”
Rev 21:2 – Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 21:9 – Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
Eph 5:23-25 – For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
We can see that the oneness of human marriage is a copy of the real thing – union with God. Similarly adultery in a marriage is equivalent to spiritual adultery or turning to other gods/things in place of the true God, this was Israel’s sin throughout the Old Testament. But does God turn His back on His cheating wife? No, He allows her to learn a lesson from it and pulls her back to Him because He is a jealous and passionate husband of the human race (Deuteronomy 4:24). Not only does He let her come back to her, He pays the ultimate price to win her back! Now if that is not the most epic romance/action plot for a movie I don’t know what is.
What was that price? Jesus on the cross. All so that we could come back to Him personally, not through a priest, not through the blood of animals, not even through our own works!
So if marriage is the blueprint for what God wants for us and we understand marriage (for the most part) but don’t understand completely what it looks like to be one with God, let’s do some reverse engineering to find out what union with God looks like.
What are some activities and pillars of human marriage:
2. Sex (yay!)
4. Selflessness in serving the other
5. Trust in the other member
6. Enjoying the others presence
7. Commitment no matter what
Now think about these things and how they bridge the gap between us and God like they do a husband and wife.
Each member taking turns talking to the other and listening in return to the others response. This is so important to a marriage that it’s not even funny! And when a Christian who claims to have a relationship with God but never talks to Him and is unable to hear Him then we can know there’s a problem somewhere. Wouldn’t it be terrible is a married couple only said “Hello” in the morning and “Goodnight” in bed? This is very close to many Christians prayer patterns! Not only that but they only ask for things from God and never give Him anything in return (praise, thanks, or devotion). For to many their communication line with God is a one way street at best but this is not God’s will. He has given us the Bible to speak to us but after that He wants us to hear His voice. Sometimes the Word’s instructions are not to specific for our situation and we need God’s guidance, this is when we have got to hear the Spirit’s voice speaking to us from God’s heart. If you don’t have this, pray for it and listen for it.
Sex is the joining of two bodies physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sex in marriage takes some time to learn and it should always progress forward. Sex is the most intimate act and it truly joins two souls and spirits together on a deeper level than we will ever fully understand (2 Cor 6:16-17)! This is why it is reserved for a lifelong marriage. In our relationship with God, sex symbolizes a few different things. It resembles the overall connection we have with God that is unseen and spiritual, it shows the unity of us obeying God and at the same time enjoying Him while moving in harmony with His movements and will. We learn the heart of God progressively understand Him the longer we are with Him. Sex in marriage is not just meant for pleasure but it’s also meant for reproduction. In our union with God through Christ we also produce offspring – the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5), the gifts of the Spirit (Rom 12), and disciples (Mat 28:19). All of which will come forth from a healthy relationship with God. If you don’t have these “children”, you need to examine your walk and fix it.
If a wife does not learn to forgive her husband for all the thoughtless and self centered things he will do in their marriage, there’s gonna be trouble! Same goes for the husband. Because of our fallen state, sin and mistakes are a given, they will happen and if you don’t believe they will you are creating a false expectation for your marriage. What you do after that point is what matters – forgive and learn. God knows we are prone to failure in some measure, this is what held us back from knowing God before Christ came. Christ fixed the problem of sin by providing the price that sin demanded, He was the “scape goat”.
Selflessness in serving the other
A husband and wife’s only ticket to a smooth marriage is selflessness, this applies to all 6 other areas of marriage and holds them all together. Putting the other mate first as they put you first just makes it an upward spiral of awesomeness and fulfillment whereas marriage that are on a downward spiral are usually soaked in selfishness and thus isolation. We are to serve God selflessly, that is, not thinking of our reward on this Earth or afterward but serving Him simply because we love Him! It’s not an obligation, it’s an opportunity! We spread the gospel because He told us to and we want more people to know Him, we help the poor not because we want to look good or feel better about our shattered life but because we want to imitate Christ and show His love to them.
Trust in the other member
Trust takes risk and makes yourself vulnerable, this is another reason (among many) that make marriages fail – on or both members are unable to trust one another or don’t want o make themselves vulnerable. Many people find it hard to trust other people, often because of their upbringing. But their is no sufficient excuse. Marriage requires trust and so does God. I see trust as a synonym for faith, if you have faith that Jesus washed your sins away, you trust in Him to do so and you entrust Him with your life. You don’t need to see it happen, you don’t need to understand it fully or have some logical equation with reminders, you just trust Him and leave it at that (Heb 11:1). Faith is required to please God (Heb 11:6), it’s needed to accept salvation (Rom 5:1), and it’s the connection to following God (2Cor 5:7).
Enjoying the others presence
I would hate to be in a marriage where we are sick of being around each other, or where we annoy each others brains out! Sadly for some this seems to develop overtime. I love being around my wife, whether she is asleep, reading, eating or anything she just lights me up. As I drive home from work I have to watch myself so that I don’t speed just to see her sooner. This should be true for Christians in their hunger to be where God is, not that He is locational but we should hunger to be in His will so that we can more easily recognize His presence. You can experience God’s supernatural presence anywhere! All it needs is faith that He is, a worshipful heart, and humbleness. Being in a location where you can focus on God and having your heart in a “place” that is focused on God is an awesome place to be and we should desire to abide there consistently. Church happens to fit this description most of the time but don’t let your experience with God or your receiving from Him be limited to the four walls of a man made building, remember we are the church.
Commitment no matter what
Devotion is summer up by this : “Unconditional, active commitment”. A couple has got to be proactive with their marriage because it won’t fix itself and it won’t improve itself, you’ve got to put in some hours! Remember those pesky vows you may have said way back? “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, till death do us part” Vows show commitment no matter what. If you run out of money, if that person doesn’t seem interested in you anymore, if they are too busy, even if a desperate super model offers themself to you with no strings attached – stay committed! This level of devotion and trust should also be present in our relationship to the Lord. When we don’t know what’s going on – trust in Him, when sin seems so easy, safe, and satisfying – stay faithful, and when our life seems to be dry of any spirituality, remember His benefits and hand in your life. Do not put any condition to your obedience of God, if you do Satan will make sure those conditions are met. Don’t be a Sunday Christian and put on the show, the smile, the worship, and the faith once you step out of your car for Sunday church and then shut the valve when you rush off to eat lunch. That is not commitment, that’s fraud!
I hope this has blessed you and will allow you to see your walk with Christ in a different, brighter light. And for you married folk – don’t kick God our of your marriage, see them as parallel streets!