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A Mystery

“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” ~Ephesians 5:32

Having recently begun reading in Genesis again, I have had reason to pause and consider the subject of marriage and its purpose as God ordained it. The following are merely some random notes drawn from my musings upon what the Scriptures expressly say about marriage.

A. There is no escaping from the fact that Adam named his wife. In fact, he named her twice! On two separate occasions (Genesis 2:23; 3:20), he named the woman that God brought to him. This seems to infer that there is a hierarchy in the very fabric of marriage, as instituted by God in the beginning, especially since the sin of the fall was set to his account.

B. Part of the curse was a setting up a conflict between the woman’s desire for her husband and his rule over her (Genesis 3:16). Sin always disrupted, corrupts, and destroys the things that God created good.

C. “Woman” was her name before it was “Eve”, which means something along the lines of “life-giver” in Hebrew. She is woman, the helper to her man, before she is the “life-giver” of his seed.

D. Together, Adam and Eve, male and female, were made after the image and likeness of God to have dominion over the earth, multiplying, filling, and subduing it, according to all that the Lord taught them (Genesis 1:26-28; cf. Matthew 28:18-20).

E. Adam was not alone given this task, nor could he have fulfilled it without the spouse God provided for him through no effort of his own.

F. Adam was delighted with Eve before she had done anything for him. He loved her and was with her (Genesis 2:23; 3:6).

G. Marriage was ordained by God for godly offspring and for the rule of mankind over the earth, for so it pleased God to create the universe (Malachi 2:15; Genesis 1:27-28).

H. Marriage is a covenant bond between a man and a woman. The two are to grow together, united as one person, in the Spirit of God (Malachi 2:15). This is a spiritual reality as set forth in Genesis 2:24 and the breaking, misuse, neglect, and abuse of this is grievous before the Lord who ordained it (ex. Malachi 2:16).

I. Very often throughout Scripture, God likens his covenant with the elect to be God to them to a marriage covenant and sin on the part of his people as adultery. For sin is a transgression or failure to keep his law-word of the covenant.

J. A man safely trusts the wife of his bosom — the Lord Christ has set his Spirit in the church that she might obey and be faithful to him only (Philippians 2:13; John 14:26).

K. The Father provided a wife for his eternal Son, the Word of God (ex. Ephesians 1:22-23). He, the Creator and Upholder of all things, became the One who redeemed his adulterous bride because he loved her, named her, knew her, and was with her, even though she had not yet done any good for or towards him (ex. Romans 3:8).

L. A wife is to be subject to her husband’s authority, even as the church is subject to the Lord, the great King (ex. Ephesians 5:24).

M. In this, there is not necessarily anything burdensome (cf. 1 John 5:3). Even as Adam could not alone fulfill the purpose of mankind, so it is, by the will of God, that Christ said that his church would do greater works on earth than he had done. The reason is because he was with and in them by his Spirit and all power and authority was given him by the Father (John 14:12-14). Likewise, in such a manner, a wife is invested to live in the name of her husband — her deeds are accounted as his, because she bears his name. Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12.

N. A man must love his wife as himself, for, in a way, she is him. This is after the image of God, is it not? The church is the body of Christ — as a wife is to her husband (Ephesians 5:28-32; 1 Corinthians 12:27).

O. A woman is under authority in this most personal way to her husband — and to him only, for she bears his name and is one with him only. She is not subject to every man. Other authorities overlap, but, under God, her husband is her only head (1 Corinthians 11:3).

P. Christ gave himself for the redemption and preservation of his adulterous bride on account of his covenant word, which he would keep, even though she had broken it to the uttermost. He redeemed her, cleansed her, beautified her, taught her, kept her, provided for her, washed her, making her fit and capable of being faithful to him (ex. Ezekiel 16; Ephesians 5:25-27). There is not a total likeness here in human marriage, for no man actually has the power to do for his woman as Christ has done for the church. However, it is with such a love and dedication to the covenant word that a man ought to be towards his wife, be she ill-behaved or trustworthy (cf. Hosea 3:1; Proverbs 5:15-21).

Q. This is the root and ground of that jealousy of love in marriage — a reflection of the flame of the Lord, a product of real love, which hates everything contrary to it (Song of Solomon 8:6; Psalms 97:10).

R. Even though Christ came to redeem to himself a faithless bride, a Christian man should be looking for a prudent, wise, and faithful Christian woman fit to be a helper to him in particular. This is because the purpose of marriage as God ordained it in the beginning was for their union in seeking first the kingdom of God.