Marriage Pictures Something Greater (2)

Marriage Pictures Something Greater (2)

The Pattern of Marriage

According to the Bible, there are distinct roles for husbands and wives to fulfil in marriage.

When we consider the husband’s role, there is a memorable but hard to follow instruction.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

No husband can ever love to the same extent as Christ loved the church. Out of loving obedience He came from the glories of heaven to save His people. In selfless and sacrificial love He went to the cross, so that the church, His bride, would be forever joined to Him. It was, is and ever will be the greatest act of love this world has seen.

The husband is to love in the same manner. The husband’s sacrificial and selfless love for his wife is a picture, dim though it may be, of Christ’s love for the church.

Every wife is also given instruction in God’s Word:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24).

As the church submits to Christ because He is the head and has authority over it, so a wife submits to her husband, recognising that he is the God-appointed head. To put it another way, as husbands take their direction from Christ’s love for the church, so wives take theirs from the church’s subjection to their Lord.

The calling of every wife is to submit to her husband, as she submits to the Lord, picturing the relationship of the church to Christ.

But, just as every husband has a pattern for leading in love by looking at the Lord Jesus, so every wife has a pattern for submission by looking at our Lord Jesus.

The One who is co-equal with the Father, in coming to this earth took a body of flesh and, as the incarnate Son, the man Christ Jesus, willingly submitted to and obeyed God the Father in all things.

All three persons of the Trinity are co-equal, but out of love for us and for the sake of our salvation, the Son becomes a man and, in His humanity, submits to the Father. So, the godly wife pictures the church submitting to Christ, but also has her Lord as an example in His submission to the Father.

The Priority of Marriage

There is no other earthly relationship like that between a man and woman in marriage.

Paul states:


Marriage has priority over all other human relationships, including those with parents and close friends. “Leaving” does not mean that the man should abandon or distance himself from his parents. Nor does it mean that he no longer has any responsibilities towards them. Rather, “leaving” and being “joined” or “cleaving” means the man has moved out of one sphere, in which he was in subjection, into another sphere, in which he has the responsibility to lead.

The couple have moved into a new God-given order and should live as those who have become “joined” to each other within that order. This new sphere is binding and permanent; “joined” is a word used to express having been glued or cemented together, thus emphasizing the permanence of the union.

The Permanence of Marriage

You are “no longer two, but one flesh” (Mark 10:8). Marriage is designed to be permanent. No one, no power, can separate the bond between Christ and His church, and marriage on earth is designed to reflect that permanent and unbreakable union.

However, as much as we should emphasize the permanence of marriage we do need to say that it is not permanent in the sense of being eternal. As is stated in many marriage ceremonies, it is “until death do us part or the Lord comes”. But the marriage it pictures is eternal. Presently, the bride of Christ is separate from her Bridegroom. But at the rapture, the church will be united with Him, the “marriage supper of the Lamb” will take place, and the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be realized (Revelation 19:7–9; 21:1-2).

Marriage is not a product of human social evolution. The description and definition of it is not up for debate. Marriage is from God; He designed it and defined it for us. It belongs to Him. The institution of marriage should therefore be held in high honour by all and it is only when biblical instruction is followed that in some measure a marriage between a man and a woman truly pictures that “ultimate” marriage of Christ and His church.