In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul gives instructions to husbands and wives, and he exhorts husbands and wives to emulate Christ’s relationship with the church. A husband is instructed to lead, love, and sacrifice himself for his wife. A wife is commanded to respect her husband and submit to his loving, sacrificial leadership. This is God’s design for marriage and an illustration of Christ’s special love and care for his people.
Since God has designed marriage to illustrate Christ’s relationship with the church, and since we, as followers of Christ, are called to and desire to be like him, we must pursue marriages that honor Christ and reflect his character and nature to the world. One author has identified five principles regarding marriage that we all should understand, and to which we all should commit our lives and marriages. Today, I charge you, Stephen and Amber, to understand and commit yourselves to these principles.
- First, I charge you to understand and commit to The Permanence of Marriage.
Whether it is acknowledged or not, marriage partners make their vows before God. According to Matthew 19:6, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” God has designed marriage not to end while both of you are living. This relationship, like Christ’s relationship with his church, is permanent, meant to last as long as you both are alive.
- Second, I charge you to understand and commit to The Sacredness of Marriage.
Marriage is a relationship designed, instituted, and initiated by God. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” This relationship, like Christ’s relationship with his church, is sacred, initiated by God.
- Third, I charge you to understand and commit to The Intimacy of Marriage.
Moses commented in Genesis 2:24 that, “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” God’s design for marriage unites a man and a woman together intimately, removing each from their family of origin and creating a new union. Marriage creates a context for knowing and being known. This relationship, like Christ’s relationship with his church, is designed for intimacy.
- Fourth, I charge you to understand and commit to The Mutuality of Marriage.
In Paul’s teaching on marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, he exhorts husbands and wives to selflessly serve one another and to pursue the other’s best interests above their own. Just preceding this passage, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” God’s has designed marriage for your mutual benefit and pleasure. You are called to put the needs and desires of your spouse first. This relationship, like Christ’s relationship with his church, is designed for mutuality.
- Last, I charge you to understand and commit to The Exclusiveness of Marriage.
“No other human relationship must interfere with the marriage commitment between husband and wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:2 instructs us that, “because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.” It is God’s design for a marriage that a man and woman set themselves apart to the exclusion of all others. This relationship, like Christ’s relationship with his church, is designed for exclusivity.
As Stephen and Amber prepare to make their vows and illustrate their commitment to each other, I would like to commend them for pursuing Christ together. They have sought wisdom from many counselors leading up to this most joyous of days, and I know they have understood and committed to each of these marriage principles. They have demonstrated the desire and determination to pursue each other’s best interests, and they understand that the close communion of marriage will require compassion and forgiveness. Stephen and Amber, may your marriage reflect the loving care and tenderness that Jesus Christ has for his people.