Few topics are more important than marriage. In a presentation on “Christ, Marriage, and the Church” at Southeastern’s 20/20 Collegiate Conference, I sought to capture the essence of my book God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation. Here is the outline and main argument of my presentation:
1. The Divinely Revealed Purpose of Marriage (Genesis 1–2)
- Equality in essence
- Distinct roles
- Joint dominion
2. The Consequences of the Fall on Marriage (Genesis 3)
- Loss of innocence
- Relational tension
- Struggle for control
3. The Redemption of Marriage in Christ (Ephesians)
- Sacrificial love of husband
- Voluntary submission of wife
- Part of restoration of all things under headship of Christ
- Putting on the full armor of God
How exciting that marriage and the family are included in God’s redemptive purposes in Christ! The biblical message is that marriage is not an end in itself but a means toward the end of glorifying God in Christ. You will notice that I find in Genesis 1–2 indications of both equality in essence and distinct male-female roles. Correspondingly, Paul urges even Christian women—those redeemed by Christ—to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ.
A truly God-honoring marriage, however, will be possible only for spouses who are Spirit-filled (Eph 5:18) and who affirm Christ’s lordship over all their lives (Eph 1:10). As all believers, husbands and wives—and their children, too!—must unite in putting on the full armor of God, so that they can stand firm against the devil’s schemes, who is intent to thwart God’s plan at every turn (Eph 6:10–18)—marriage must be lived by faith, not sight.
Do you and I want to have a successful marriage? Or do we desire a God-honoring marriage?
Success defines marriage in the world’s terms: it is works-oriented and prides itself in human accomplishment and human means toward attaining it. Bringing glory to God orients the purpose for marriage in the only one who is truly worthy. We depend on God and acknowledge our need for him. And we can be successful even when we fail, because our failure puts the spotlight where it properly belongs: the never-failing love of God, and his all-sufficient grace.