Monday 18 July 2011

Tying the knot

Last weekend at the Chinese Church, we gathered to celebrate the wedding of S and Z. Marriage is one of the biggest deals there is in the bible. It is rooted in God’s blessing in creation. It points forward  to the fulfilment of God’s promises in the new creation. Yet it finds its fullest expression in the relationship between Jesus and his church.

Many people of many cultures and different faiths get married every day. What is distinctive about a Christian marriage? What does the bible say?

1. The blessing of God
The creation of the first man and woman is simultaneously the account of the first marriage. God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Thus God created the woman and brought her to Adam to be his helper and his wife.

Genesis also teaches us that sex is God’s gift to be enjoyed in marriage between a man and a woman. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Within marriage the husband and wife give themselves to one another fully and without shame (Genesis 2:25).

2. The faithfulness of God
God takes marriage seriously. In Malachi Chapter 2, God stands as a witness to the vows made between a husband and his wife. “Has not the Lord made them one?” (Malachi 2:15) Here we find marriage described as a “covenant” - a contract made between a man and a woman. God himself holds them to their promises.

In the same passage, we learn that a godly marriage is meant to produce godly children. Fruitfulness is closely linked to faithfulness. Children learn obedience to God in an environment of faithfulness to God in marriage and in the home.

3. The love of God
The most glorious picture of marriage we find in the bible is described in terms of Jesus’ relationship with the church. Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25) “and gave himself up for her”. Interestingly, it is the husband - not the wife - who is given the command to love. Love in the bible is not a touchy-feelly emotion. Love is an act of supreme self-sacrifice for the good of another.

Wives are called to submission (Ephesians 5:24). As the church submits to Christ and as Christ submits to the will of his Father, even unto death on the cross; so wives are to submit to their husbands. This inner beauty is described in the bible as unfading and of great worth in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:4-5).

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