Marriage in the Image of Christ
There’s one last theological bit that people, Christians too, tend (or want) to ignore when it comes to marriage. God is an all-powerful and all-knowing God. We know that Christ was killed according to the predetermined plan of God. That means God knew what was coming and planned with it in mind.
In Ephesians 5, Paul talks about marriage, about the way the husband should treat the wife, how the wife is to treat the husband. He does this all while looking at Christ, you think, as an example. But right when you think he’s just talking only about marriage he tells us that he’s actually talking about Christ and the Church29. And then in light of that the individuals are to act in that way in marriage.
Paul then calls marriage a mystery. When Paul talks about mystery it’s something that God had hidden in the past but then revealed when Christ showed up. Marriage he says was the mystery (why male and female in union anyway? Why not reproduce like asexual amoeba?) and the revelation was Christ and the Church.
The main point is this: Christ didn’t come to be an example for a good marriage; marriage was built with Christ and the Church in mind. The image of God was also to be the image of Christ and the Church.
And that image, that picture, of marriage was to show not only the love and the self-sacrifice of individuals. The husband was to reflect the head, which is Christ, who gave himself for the Church. The wife was to depict the Church who respects the Head30. The love for the other was to be like the love for one’s own body—presenting their wives as unblemished and blameless. The marriage union (sex, bodies, everything) was to reflect the indwelling of Christ in the church. The marriage union (sex, bodies, everything) of husband and wife was to show how we are one member with Christ.
Being one man and one woman in a marriage union separated from their own families and starting a new family is a high calling. It was to show the stamp of God in how it was built and it was to show a picture of Christ and the Church in its very mold.
That dovetails back to our practical questions: if God built marriage in the beginning in the mold of Christ and the Church, what right do we have to change that mold? What right do we have to depict a different picture?
At this point, the people who would want us to change God’s picture of Christ and the Church would say that it is impossible for someone who loves children, or animals, or multiple spouses (or anything else that is imagined) to love. That they are banned from loving.
That is a lie.
They have taken that dissected idea of marriage—the broken globe—and taken a definition of love that is only tied up with personal attraction31, and made that the basic meaning of love. Since they’re not attracted to the person then they can’t love.
But that is not God’s picture of love in Christ. Christ wasn’t attracted to the Church. The world was made up of the ugliest, vilest sinners. There was nothing lovely in this world of sinners that Christ was drawn to. But God loved that ugly, despicable, violent world even knowing what they would do to his Son. And Christ loved his Father and that world while they were still sinners, and Christ gave himself.
That is love.
Love isn’t a package Something that satisfies, it is a practice and process that magnifies. It is an active, full-bodied thing that goes beyond attraction and self-gratification. It believes what’s best. It hopes for the best. It aims for the best. And it gives of itself unceasingly and without qualification. This kind of love bears fruit.