By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’” – Matthew 19: 4-6 NIV
The happy endings of romantic comedies are pretty predicable. A couple meets, inevitably runs into a snag of misunderstanding, almost misses their chance for true love, and then happily ends up together in the end. The movie cuts to credits and we are left with a pretty inaccurate impression of what true love is. In the verse above, Jesus was being questioned by the Pharisees about divorce. Jesus directed them back to God’s original plan for His creation of man and woman, and points out the hardness of heart the presence of sin via divorce reveals (NIV Application Commentary).
Since ancient times humanity has struggled to remain focused on the true meaning and purpose of marriage. True love is God’s love for us, not the love expressed by two people getting married. We’re all so imperfect, there is no way we could love each other with the same love God has for us. But we can allow our marriages to fulfill God’s purpose for them, which is to bring glory to Him. Christian marriage recognizes the blanket of unconditional love and forgiveness we live under in Christ. Christ-centered marriages are the product of two Christ-centered people, living to glorify God both separately, and together. The common factor which bonds Christian marriages together is Christ, Himself.
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What Does the Bible Say about the Purpose for Marriage?
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 NIV
Love forgives again, and again, and again (NIV Study Bible). It doesn’t consider whether we want to, think it’s fair, or feel like it. Love forgives. True love flows through us out of the love the Father has for us. The more we trust God and grow in our faith through Christ, the more we are able to love deeply, as Peter wrote in the verse above.
“The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
God places us in communities and families so we won’t be alone. Marriage is not the only place we find companionship and community, but it is a special union.
Solomon wrote of loneliness and friendship, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). When Christ is at the center of our relationships, and our marriages, they are strengthened. Biblical love is established through Christ, for God’s glory. Paul wrote of selfless love, often quoted in marriage ceremonies and in teachings of biblical love:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)
A love of this regard is found and accomplished through Christ. This love draws us near to God. When Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ questions about divorce, He was driving the conversation back to God’s design for love. On earth, two can accomplish more for God together, through Christ, than they can apart. When we enter into marriage with an eternal mindset of love, it’s still hard. But when the happy endings of movies fail to mirror our real lives, we can hold on to the promise of true, biblical love.
God’s truth is rock solid, and able to uphold us even through the hardest of human struggles. In a world soaked with sin and evil, and an enemy seeking to destroy us, the beautiful love found in Christian marriage will unmistakably come under attack. Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hates their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church- for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery- but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:28-32 NIV
The true happy ending is Christ retiring for His bride, the church.
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Scripture Passages about Marriage
1. “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Genesis 2:18 NIV
2. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25 NIV
3. “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:6 NIV
4. “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9 NIV
5. “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:18-19 NIV
6. “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10 NIV
7. “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 NIV
9. “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.” Proverbs 18:22 NIV
10. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 NIV
10 Christian Marriage Quotes
2. “There is no better place where ‘iron sharpens iron’ than in a marriage.” – Ron Edmonson
3. “In marriage, we stand side by side as individuals fashioned by the Source of Love. Because of Christ, we are complete simply because we are … a marriage is made up of two people created in God’s image, a divine force that changes scenery, causes awe, and embodies wholeness.” – Anne Dahlhauser
4. “Staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping a covenant. ‘Till death do us part,’ or ‘as long as we both shall live’ is sacred covenant promise- the same kind Jesus made wit his bride when he died for her.” – Pastor John Piper
5. “We should be able to look at our spouse in the face and say, ‘You complete me…’ This completeness of husband and wife is why the apostle Paul can say that to love your spouse is to love yourself (Ephesians 5:28). The two really are one, and this means so much more than sentiment. It means they are one flesh.” – Steven Wedgeworth
6. “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Ruth Bell Graham
7. “In sharp contrast with our culture, the Bible teaches that the essence of marriage is a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other. That means that love is more fundamentally action than emotion.” – Tim Keller
8. “Marriage is sharing your life with your best friend, enjoying the journey along the way, and arriving at every destination together.” – Fawn Weaver
9. “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou
10. “We are here to love. Not much else matters.” – Francis Chan
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A Prayer for a Christian Marriage
You see us, hear us, and love us completely. You are near, Lord, and You are purposeful. Our lives are meant to bring glory and honor to You. We pray today, all our relationships honor You. Help us to be loyal, honest, and Christ-centered friends, parents, children, significant others, and spouses. Foster a willing spirit in us, Father, to be loyal, honest and godly to the people You have placed in our lives.
Father, for those of us still wondering if marriage is a path You have set forth in our lives, we pray to know who you have set apart for us to marry. For those of us who are to be married or are already married, we pray Paul’s prose over our marriages, Father. May we “Be completely humble and gentile; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV). Help us to learn about what it means to love our spouses in this way, Father.
Guard our marriages in the truth of Your Living Word, Christ Jesus. Bless our marriages with forgiveness, grace, and Your favor! For those of us who are single, Father, bless our lives with contentment, peace, and patience in Your plan for us. We pray Your timing and Your will for our lives, knowing You promise us more than we could ever ask for or imagine. For those of us who are married, we pray to walk through life, with our spouses, as a living reflection of Your love for us, Father.
In Jesus’ Name,
NIV Application Commentary. Copyright © 2004 by Michael J. Wilkins.
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