Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. – Hebrews 13:4
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. – Genesis 2:24-25
Three times, God leads the writers of the Old and New Testament books to record the words of Genesis 2:24: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Marriage is a big deal to God. The commandment to keep it pure is one of the Big Ten. The space given in the New Testament to the dangers and evil of adultery and sexual sin reveals just how serious God is: God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Hebrews 13:4).
What’s the big deal? That question isn’t even being asked these days by much of the world. It’s no deal. Marriage has become a very optional ornament on the various sexual and relational arrangements being explored these days. I wonder why anyone would want to get married if they are not a Christian, Jew of Muslim. What’s the upside to something so disposable (in the minds of the world)?
But for the Christian there is a much deeper reason for keeping marriage pure. It is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:31-33
Marriage is far more than a convenient arrangement. It is more even, than a foundation for families to grow and thrive (which it most certainly is). It is a picture of Jesus’ love for his bride, the Church, and the Church’s love for her Savior.
This picture proved to be very helpful to us more than once. One time in particular, Diane and I were diving down a wormhole of disagreement, misunderstanding, and hurt. Everything I said she misunderstood. Every word she said I took the wrong way. It was ugly. Tears. Hurtful words. We built forts of resentment. We lobbed bombs of anger. Get the picture?
The Holy Spirit somehow got through to me in the midst of this and I thought about this verse. I prayed a quick prayer, “How can I die for this woman?” Then it came to me: I didn’t need to die for her. Jesus already had done that. I needed to see her as my bride: without spot or wrinkle, blemish or stain. To the glory of God and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I determined, The next words that come out of her mouth are going to be good, pure, loving, and gracious. The result was instantaneous. The wormhole dissolved into a path of righteousness in a green pasture beside still waters. It was a moment that we shall never forget.
We saw that night how blessed it is to play out our roles reflecting the relationship between Christ and the Church. It was a delightful moment of love and respect.
Whenever we fail to reflect in our marriages Christ’s love and the Church’s delight in her Savior we sully ourselves. Whether in gross, crude, and ugly ways, or in a subtle manner we not only dishonor God, but we cast a poor light on the love of Christ for his Bride, the church: You and me, and all believers. And that’s a big deal.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’”
24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. – Genesis 2:18-25 NLT