Marriage, as Paul says in Ephesians 5:32, is “a great mystery.”
Yeah… we know.
He goes on to say, “but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”
I think it is interesting when we inside the church google the best gift to buy at Valentines or the best place to take my wife on vacation for our anniversary or what gift a wife can give to celebrate his manhood. We want quick fixes for a great marriage. You, like me, may have a book with advice like leaving a rose everyday on the counter for your wife, or telling your husband how attractive a shirt makes him look as he leaves in the morning. But where do these things leave us on being one in the way Christ and His church are one?
I think advice like this leaves us thinking we are the ones who can create the type of closeness referred to by Paul. We seem to think “two are united into one” has everything to do with the actions of a man and woman (Ephesians 5:31). But it isn’t the leaving our families to start a new one; it isn’t the living with our spouse; it isn’t the having sex that bonds us together in oneness. This is part of it, for sure. If you aren’t together, you can’t bond.
But two pieces of wood can be pushed tight against each other, but the slapping together isn’t what makes it become one strong, solid piece which can never be torn apart. There has to be some medium to keep them tightly together. There must be something strong to keep them from separating when a piece is pulled one way and the other piece is pulled the other way.
So what is the nail that makes marriages work? What is the glue that makes two separate individuals “an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one?”
It is Christ Himself!
When a husband and wife say “I do,” it is Jesus who joins them together in an inseparable bond. When we let Jesus be the driving force in our marriage, when He is where we find our value, our worth, our strength, our desire for loving the other person, then marriage can truly look like Christ and His church.
So, how can you have a marriage that illustrates Jesus’ love for his bride, the church?
Paul explains we can illustrate Jesus’ love for His bride the church by “submit(ing) to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
If you will submit to the authority your husband has been given by God or love your wife sacrificially like Christ loved you, never expecting anything in return, then we will have a lot of great marriages!