It is very easy for Christians to fall into the simplistic, moralistic trap as we live in a world and culture that has distorted God’s natural order. We see our culture’s approval and legalization of same-sex marriage and think we have a high view of marriage simply by stating that marriage is “one man for one woman for life.” While I hope we can stand strong in this simple statement, I would also argue that this statement is missing the new covenant emphasis that marriage is a picture of redemptive hope. This is where marriage finds its greatest definition in the whole spectrum of redemptive history.
It is no doubt true that God created marriage as part of his perfect order. In Genesis 2:24 we read, “Therefore, a man shall leave his mother and father and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” The pre-sin creation of the natural order gives us a perspective that a man and woman should come together as one in their calling to reflect the glory of God as they spread and multiply across the earth. This is a picture of joint worship and obedience in a one-flesh union with a ring of absolute permanency. Even from Genesis 2, when we simply identify that marriage is one man and one woman without also identifying the context of joint worship, we miss a large part of God’s initial purpose in the compatibility of their roles to serve and honor their Creator.
With the introduction of sin in Genesis three, comes the introduction of not only the distortion of the one-flesh male and female union, but mankind’s denial of God to worship self. No wonder today we see all sorts of distorted definition for marriage. However, one thing we must never overlook, is that God’s divine sovereign purpose from before the foundation of the world is the glorification of his Son through the work of the cross (Eph. 1:3-4). Even as we read Genesis 2, we must keep in mind that this marriage of Adam and Eve, in the timeless mind of the sovereign Creator, was always going to be about Jesus.
Therefore, there are three reasons in Christ that we should view marriage redemptively rather than simply moralistically. To help us, let’s engage the words of the Apostle John in Revelation 19: 6-9. “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."
1. We have been taken off the market.
Revelation 19 has a ring of victory to it. Babylon has been defeated and the smoke of her ashes goes up forever and ever (vs. 1-3). God’s people have been saved out of Babylon. We are no longer of the world and instead we are a great multitude around the throne giving praise to our God and Savior. We are no longer available to be lured by temporary sensualities of this world. Babylon is dead to us, her smoke is rising, we have no need for her. We are betrothed to Christ. Marriage is not just a fact that we have become unavailable to other men or women, but that we are a picture of no longer being available to Babylon. The Church is a new bride awaiting a wedding day to a husband that is not of this world.
2. We are preparing for the big day.
One day the church will stand before Christ, face to face, in front of his unveiled glory and in the ecstasy of eternal joy and satisfaction. The words given to John from Jesus are that this is like a bride preparing herself for a great wedding banquet. Marriage is worshipful. It is supposed to be a picture of the holiness of worship as God’s people are being sanctified to meet Jesus face to face. Whenever we see a young lady carefully arranging her hair and flowers and dress and make-up (and everything else) for her big day, it should remind us that Christians are also preparing as we anticipate the coming of our King. As husbands and wives come together in betrothal and ceremony and in a life of mutual edification, they should do so intentionally as a picture of our anticipation of future consummation. The bride in Christ is seen in the splendor of fine linen, bright and pure.
3. The Bride price has been paid.
We cannot read past these words in Revelation 19 without also seeing that the wedding banquet is attributed to the “Lamb.” Every time we see this description of Jesus, it must remind us of his ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. We are a bride that has been purchased at great cost. The sacrificial love of Christ for his bride is depicted in the reality of the eternal righteous judgment of God being poured upon him in furious holy wrath. The love of Christ is inexpressible in a sacrifice that is unfathomable. This is why Paul says that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25). While this kind of love is completely unachievable for any of us, our marriages have this as our standard of love that points to the redemptive act of our Lord to whom all Christians are ultimately betrothed.
Do you really have a high view of marriage? It is more than a man and a woman for life. It’s a man and a woman in Christ.