As young adults begin to engage in serious relationships, marriage is eventually on their mind. Our congregation already has ten weddings scheduled for this year. Have you thought about it? What is marriage all about?
There have been many metaphors used to describe marriage. For instance, scissors are made up of two separate blades connected to a handle. But if the blades are not joined together by a pin, they can’t function. So also, unless a husband and wife are joined together by Christ, the marriage cannot function properly. There’s also the metaphor of doubles tennis: to be successful in marriage and doubles tennis both partners need to communicate well and work together, both need to serve well, and of course both tennis and marriage begin with love.
Yes, there are many analogies and metaphors for marriage, but when we read God’s Word we find that our Lord actually uses marriage as a metaphor to describe His relationship with us. A God pleasing marriage is one that resembles the greatest relationship possible, the relationship God has with his people. There are three aspects of our relationship with God that are vital to any marriage: commitment, forgiveness, and love.
Commitment means to bind together with a promise. God has already made a commitment to his children in baptism. In baptism, God bound himself to us in the promise of everlasting life with him. He does not forget his promise when we do wrong, nor does he split when things get tough. No, because God is committed to us, he has done everything possible to make our relationship work, even when it meant death on a cross. Because of the cross, we can be sure that God will never divorce us.
When someone gets married they are vowing their commitment to their spouse. As the two bind themselves together until death parts them, it’s good for them to remember that God has bound himself to each of them. We read in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can break this union… nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now to be sure, the only way a husband and wife can maintain this commitment to one another is through forgiveness. Without forgiveness, commitment is impossible. In order to maintain his commitment, God forgives us.
My wife and I received a forgiveness cross for a wedding gift. The cross reminds us how God forgave us through Jesus’ death on the cross. There are grooves carved into the forgiveness cross so that each person can grip it. This demonstrates that it is through Christ’s forgiveness that we find the strength to forgive each other. St. Paul writes: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13). As spouses forgive each other, they will see that situations that might have broken them apart will instead bring them even closer.
Finally, we all know that love is crucial to every marriage. But what is love? The world has a variety of understandings concerning what love is, but God gives us a clear definition in His Word: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Love is sacrificial; it is self-giving.
There will be times in any marriage when one will need to make sacrifices for the other. One may have to sacrifice time, energy, or maybe even a career opportunity. That’s what the wedding day is all about: it’s the day you give yourself to one another, to give yourself in rich times and poor times, to give yourself in sickness and in health, to sacrifice yourself for your spouse. That’s God’s understanding of love; that’s true love.
Finally, if you choose to get married in a church, do it not because it is such a beautiful place, but because it is there that we find the most beautiful relationship, a relationship made perfect in commitment, forgiveness, and love. It is the relationship we have with our Lord Jesus Christ. If marriage is on your mind, may Christ be on your heart so that your marriage will always serve as a metaphor of God’s love for the world.