Marriage is a picture of Christ and His Church. The groom being Christ and the bride being the Church. The Church includes every single born-again believer collectively, not a specific church or denomination. This is the main reason why Biblical marriage is so important to God. Anything outside of one man and one woman being faithful to each other for their entire lives distorts the picture. The bible verses that talk about this mystery are Ephesians 5:22-33.
22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
With the roles of church (wife) and Christ (husband) in mind, the commands and pictures of this passage makes more sense.
The church should submit to Christ, likewise the wife should submit to her husband. Christ died for his church, likewise the husband should be willing to die for his wife if need be. Also, the husband and wife should be one flesh, as Christ and His Church are one flesh. Romans 8:15-17 states 15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
There are several ways of distorting this picture in our own marriages, and many of us are guilty of doing it at some point or another.
Divorce. God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16aFor the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away:…God allows divorce because of hardness of hearts (Matthew 19:8, Mark 10:5). Christ would never leave His church, and His church will never leave Him (on a whole, not an individual basis). One flesh should not be separated. I understand there are different circumstances, but with a divorce rate of 50% and climbing, the problem lays with us. Committment and promises mean little in today’s society. Trucebreaking is one of the traits of the perilous end times (2 Timothy 3:3). There are two Biblical grounds for divorce: fornication (includes adultery) and abandonment (1 Corinthians 7:15). Also, anyone who marries someone who was divorced is committing adultery and causing the divorcee to commit adultery (Matthew 5:32, 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18).
However, while on the topic of remarriage, I do not believe God condemns all divorced and remarried people. I believe God will not hold us accountable for things we do not know (Acts 17:30a). If someone is not a Christian and/or does not understand God’s views on divorce and remarriage, He will not hold it against them. John 4 is a story about Jesus interacting with a Samaritan woman at the well. He asks her to bring her husband, she admits she has no husband. In verse 18 Jesus says For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. Jesus identifies all 5 men as husbands, not merely her first husband. He also states the man she is living with now is not her husband, implying he could potentially be her husband.
Adultery. There are two kinds of adultery: physical and spiritual. As Christians, we can commit adultery by worshiping other gods. As a spouse, we can cheat on our spouses physically, mentally (Matthew 5:28), emotionally, etc. Christ is always faithful to us, we are not always faithful back. By committing adultery, we are distorting the testimony of the Church to her husband.
Abuse. The key verses for this distortion are 25-29. Husbands should love their wives enough to die for them, husbands should love their wives as their own body. An abusive man would not abuse himself, so what justifies abusing the one he is called to love, lead, and provide for? There are also abusive wives. Abusing your husband is, obviously, not very submissive or loving. Proverbs 31: 11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Homosexuality. Despite the obvious warnings against homosexual behavior (Leviticus 18, 20, and Romans 1), the picture in Ephesians 5 cannot exist in a homosexual relationship. There would be either two Christs or two Churches. I believe this is a main reason God disproves of homosexuality, there cannot be a testimony of Christ and His Church in that kind of union.
Polygamy. Righteous men of the Old Testament had multiple wives. Abraham, Jacob, David, and many other men throughout the Bible. These men also lied, murdered, stole, decieved…so I’m not sure using them as a basis that “plural marriage is God’s plan because He didn’t punish them for it” is a very good argument. There is one Christ (2 Corinthians 11:4, John 14:6) and the church is one body (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12, Galatians 3:28). The picture is not one Christ and multiple bodies (multiple wives). Less common, but still equally distorted, the picture is not multiple Christs and one body (reverse polygamy). The picture, as stated in Ephesians 5 above, is ONE Christ and ONE Body/Church.
Abandonment. The second Biblical reason for divorce, along with adultery. 1 Corinthians 7: 15But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. This is similar to the distortion of divorce because it is either Christ leaving His church or the church leaving Christ. The husband not providing for his family or the wife not providing for her family are seen as very serious in Scripture. (1 Timothy 5:8 and Titus 2:5 respectively).
Fornication. Most often when someone thinks of fornication they think of relations before marriage. Scripturally it can also include any other sexual sin, like adultery. Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21 list “fornications” (plural) among a list of evil thoughts in one’s heart. Fornication physically makes someone unclean in their marriage, and spiritually in their relationship with God. It is always seen in a negative way, it is the only sin that we commit against our own bodies 1 Corinthians 6:18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. The main reason we should abstain from fornication is also in 1 Corinthians 6, in verse 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. How can a person be one flesh with two people if we are only one flesh with our spouse? It shouldn’t be.
Being unequally yoked. Scripture can really speak for itself on this one. 2 Corinthians 6:14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Reverse gender roles. This may be off the deep end, but God designed men and women for different jobs so a deliberate reverse of those jobs is a distortion of the roles of Christ and His Church. There are always circumstances that make fulfilling your God-given roles difficult or sometimes impossible. I understand this, and more importantly, God understands this.
No marriage is perfect, mine is not. We are imperfect people, resulting in imperfect marriages. No marriage on earth will show fully God’s love for us as His bride in our relationship with Him. Pictures are not exact, but the picture of our marriage shouldn’t be a Picasso of our heavenly marriage 🙂
These are Jeremy and my wedding rings! ❤