(This article will appear in the June issue of the Wacoan. It is their annual Bridal issue)
I remember like it was yesterday. As I stood with my groomsmen awaiting Lydia’s entrance I was full of joy and great expectation of our life together. We were crazy in love and ready for marriage! But as a 22-year-old college Senior how much could I really know about marriage? What kind of husband would I be? Where will we live? What about money, kids, and the million other great unknowns of marriage? Like a heart-pounding mystery novel that you can’t put down, marriage takes hold of two people’s lives and carries them on a journey to places they’ve never known.
God’s Word says that marriage is a “profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32) and like a great mystery novel it must be unraveled before it is understood. The mystery of a marriage is not found in the laws that govern it or the traditions we inherit from family, for these can be changed according to cultural norms. In California a witch doctor can unite same-sex couples in marriage and they are granted the same legal benefits as any other couple. So to understand the mystery we must look to one who designed marriage, for His plans are unchangeable and everlasting. In the beginning God ordained marriage with these simple words; “…a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24).
The first clue to the mystery is to understand the idea of two people becoming one flesh. This unusual term is referring to the act of consummation, which is intended to take place after the wedding, not while dating! (Shocking to many… but true!) There is a created order to love and it begins with vows not with sex. So, the first clue in the mystery of marriage is that God creates physical oneness to testify to the spiritual oneness created by the vows.
The second clue to the mystery is found in the connection between marriage and our relationship to Jesus Christ. “This mystery (of marriage) is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) When we place our trust in Jesus Christ we become one with Him and share in His eternal inheritance. Like marriage, conversion to Jesus Christ is a covenant relationship - a solemn, binding agreement. In Biblical terms we are the Bride and Jesus is the Groom. So, the second clue to the mystery is that our union in marriage is meant to reflect Christ’s union with all those who follow Him. Imagine the freedom a marriage has when husband and wife strive to love each other the way Christ and His church love each other.
To better understand the depths of the mystery of marriage we have to recognize the painful and destructive effects of ending the marriage. If marriage is the uniting of man and woman physically and spiritually, then divorce is both a physical and spiritual separation. We have all consoled a friend whose spouse had an affair, and grieved with them as they spoke about the intense pain of rejection and the dramatic effect it is having on the whole family. When the covenant vows are violated the offended spouse feels like their heart and flesh are being ripped apart. The pain is deep, hurtful, and while forgiveness can come, there are lasting consequences. Like Bethany Hamilton whose arm was violently ripped off by a shark and now lives with the consequences of that tragic event, divorce leaves a scar in the heart and effects future generations.
The mystery of marriage is that two people are united as one flesh for the purpose of reflecting the love between Christ and His church. When God is glorified in marriage love endures in the midst of trials, generations are blessed, and joy is found in each other. May we all unite with Christ so that we can fully unite with one we love and share in this great mystery together.