Christ and Marriage
Why should Jesus Christ be the focus of a Christian marriage? Actually the real question should be how can any marriage be considered Christian if it isn't focused on Christ?
Jesus Christ is preeminent first of all. That should settle so many questions before they're even asked. Calling a marriage a Christian marriage isn't just about co-opting the name of Christ and tacking it on to a self-centered arrangement. And that is really the crux of the matter. For a marriage to be considered a Christian marriage Jesus Christ must clearly be at the center, the clear focus, preeminent.
The most consistent and persistent rivals to Christ's preeminence in marriage is our selfishness. Our sinful self-centeredness battles against our spouse's sinful self-centeredness and it's game on. A serious battle for control where we keep track of every foul, real and perceived. We keep a running score of points we think we should be awarded for good behavior. We become hypersensitive to our own feelings and our own thoughts of what should be. It is when individuals seek the Lord Jesus and his will (a.k.a. seeking the Lord and reading God's word and saying no to ourselves) that they figure it out, that things go the way they are supposed to go in marriage.
What happens far too often is that we get so focused on our own needs that we forget that the other person is the one we are called to lay our lives down for. Christ designed marriage to picture his relationship with the church. Because Christ died for the church, husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives. Because Christ loved the church, husbands are to truly love their wives. Because the church looks to Christ for leadership, the wife is to look to her husband for leadership. Because Christ nourishes and cherishes the church, the wife is to look to her husband as her provider and her nurturer. Some people see this as terribly old-fashioned and out of date or even oppressive. But it really is the most freeing way to live for both husband and wife. Certainly husbands and wives are gifted in different ways but God has given specific and distinct roles to both the husband and the wife.
The husband takes the primary role of leading as a servant. The wife takes the role of a helper. And God does something beautiful in the relationship. When there is a power struggle, when someone doesn't want their role, or someone wants the other person's role, there inevitably will be sharp conflict. But when we willingly receive our roles and willingly seek to use those roles to better the other person beauty results. And when we do it all for Christ and his church, there is a settled peace that rests upon the couple. They know that they are doing what God wants. They are more concerned that their lives and their marriage exalt Christ.
It is amazing what God can do through the yielded, humble, courageous lives of those who only seek to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no turf wars, there are no dragout knockdown battles for power and control, there is a supernatural almost effortless-looking leaving of parents, receiving of spouse, and becoming one flesh. They know they are meant to be together and they gladly receive the union. Blessed by Christ, they have one motive: to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and make his glory known. Everything else is icing on the cake. The most important things are in their place. So storms may come and crisis may rise, and this couple has a peace and assurance that can weather any storm. The peace of Christ rules in their hearts. And they are thankful.
They know that all praise should go to the Lord Jesus Christ because they have been saved by sovereign grace alone, through the gift of faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, for God's glory alone. They are living for something beyond this life, so they can live fully free in this life. This is the kind of marriage I aspire to have and the kind of marriage every Christian couple should both want and work towards.