Tuesday, June 02, 2009

"The Shocking Thing About Christian Marriage"

Have you ever attended a wedding ceremony, and for a moment felt as if you were tasting and seeing a brief glimpse of heaven? I remember it so clearly at my own wedding - the experience of walking down the aisle with my groom in view, clothed in my white, spotless gown, and taking exceeding comfort in knowing that my husband chose me in spite of all my mistakes and impurities. For that moment in time, we beheld a picture of Christ calling His Bride to Himself.
A similar picture was seen this past weekend at the wedding celebration of a dear friend. My sweet friend Anna, whom I met at our previous church as well as at seminary, joined with her husband in marriage on Saturday afternoon, and it truly was a joyous celebration. Anna is one of those rare individuals with whom you come in contact with and are immediately struck by her unashamed and infectious joy. She waited patiently for the Lord's timing in bringing her husband into her life, and He blessed her faithfulness abundantly above all she could have imagined as He does with all who trust in His sovereign plan! The buzz of anticipation filled the sanctuary as we entered and found our seats amongst the other excited guests. Then...the moment came... As the musicians began playing the familiar hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness," Anna entered the room with her father singing along with the music. Unable to contain such overwhelming joy, all who were there spontaneously joined the bride and groom in singing praise to the Father for such a glorious union and celebration. My eyes welled up at such a beautiful picture.
One of the main elements that my husband and I miss the most from our previous church is the preaching pastor. We were torn with the thought of parting with such a powerful, sensitive, effective, humble proclaimer of the Truth. He is perhaps one of the best preachers either of us has ever encountered, and we were reminded of why during this ceremony. As is his custom, he prepared a sermon for the occasion, this one entitled "The Shocking Thing About Christian Marriage." He prefaced the one thing by laying out for the congregation what the shocking thing is not. The shocking thing about Christian marriage is not that wives are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, although that has historically been a radical concept in almost every culture one encounters. In almost every culture, women are either hungry for independence, or they are subject to a society of oppression. The other thing that is not the shocking thing about Christian marriage is that husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. How much easier would it have been if Scripture simply instructed men to lead their wives, rather than throwing in the seemingly impossible task of loving in a sacrificial manner? With that said, if the shocking reality of marriage is not what we are instructed to do as husbands and wives in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, what is the shocking thing? Here it is:

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in
which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince
of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of
disobedience--among whom we all once lived in the passions of
our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind. . . (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave
himself up for her
, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor,
without spot or
or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Ponder that for a moment... Every single one of us, by nature, deep within, at the very core of our being, at some point were dead. But God in His infinite mercy, for those whom He chose before time began, sent Christ for our salvation and so that He might call us His Bride. When that reality takes hold of you, when He has pulled you from the pit and called you spotless and undefiled, submission and sacrificial love won't seem so shocking. One also has to wonder if, amongst those couples who struggle with such issues, there is a deeper connection with having lost sight of the fundamental, shocking reality of what God has done for us in Christ. He actually orchestrated marriage in such a way that we who were dead are intended to reflect the very relationship His Son has with the Church!
For this reason, I found it particularly fitting that all present at this joyous wedding ceremony on Saturday were invited to join together in singing,
There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains...
The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away...
Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood shall never lose its power;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more...
E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die...


jennypen said...

Sounds beautiful! I had goosebumps when I read your description.

Glad to know you'll be close by soon, even though I won't see you. When I was driving through your town a couple years ago, I was so excited to know how close we were. Like I could call out your name from my car window, and you'd answer me. Ah, silly, cheeseball, me.

Praying for you and the fam!

Kim said...


Ashley said...

Excellent! (and quite timely)