I have a beautiful hand-painted picture of a mountainous scene hanging in my house. Every time I look at this picture, I long for the fresh mountain air of Colorado (my second favorite state after Texas). This beautiful picture is a magnificent representation of the mountains I love. It reflects a beautiful scene. However, as much as I love this picture, it’s only a representation of the real thing.
God created marriage to work exactly the same way.
Marriage, as lovely as it is, is only a picture of something greater. It’s an earthly representation of something much grander. God placed the institution of marriage on the wall of this world as a representation of the gospel.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31–32)
God’s greatest purpose for creating marriage is to show the world an earthly representation of what Christ’s covenant relationship looks like with His Church.
Christ is the groom and the Church is His bride. As Timothy Keller says in his book The Meaning of Marriage, “This is one of God’s great purposes in marriage: to picture the relationship between Christ and His redeemed people forever!”
As Ephesians 5 shows us, the husband’s role is to reflect a picture of Christ Himself and the wife’s role is to reflect a picture of the Church. Christ (our heavenly groom) came to this earth, pursued His bride (the Church), sacrificed His life for her, made a lasting covenant with her (a promise that cannot be broken), and gave her a new name (child of God). Just as Christ loved, pursued, and sacrificed for His bride, husbands are called to do the same for their brides.
In marriage, the man is called to love his wife selflessly. To lead her in wisdom. To sacrifice himself for her good. “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church. . . . Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:23, 25).
On the flip side, the woman is called to respond to her husband’s leadership as the Church responds to Christ. The woman is called to faithfully respect her husband. To welcome his leadership in their home. To partner with him in the work of the kingdom. “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. . . . Let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph. 5:24, 33).
Understanding marriage through a gospel lens is essential for us as Christian women. When a man and a woman live out their unique gender roles within the marriage covenant, they put the glory of the gospel on display as God intended. We show our lost and broken world a picture of Christ and His love for His bride (the Church) that would not be displayed otherwise.
As Christian women, our primary purpose for getting married should be to glorify God. “As Christians, we don’t believe that a happy marriage is the primary goal of life. Glorifying God is.” As women, we will glorify God most when we understand and live out His unique role for us as women/wives. We’ll unpack more of what our beautiful and unique role is in the next chapter.
Scripture also reveals some other amazing purposes for marriage.
• Companionship (see Gen. 2:18)
• Sexual intimacy (see Gen. 2:24)
• Having a Lifelong teammate (see Prov. 2:17)
• Producing children (see Gen. 1:28)
Marriage is a spectacular union created by God Himself. Desiring to get married for God’s glory is a wonderful and biblical desire. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).
Approaching marriage with a selfless heart and gospel lens is the key to building a beautiful, Christ-exalting relationship.
*This content was pulled from chapter 5 Love Defined (Getting to the Heart of Love, Marriage, and Sex). To learn more about God’s design for marriage, love, sex, purity, relationships, and singleness, grab a copy of Love Defined: Embracing God’s Vision for Lasting Love and Satisfying Relationships.