Dear Married Woman,
You have an extraordinary calling. As John Piper puts it, “…the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and His church on display” (This Momentary Marriage). This is the Apostle Paul’s message in Ephesians 5:22-33. He calls marriage a “profound mystery,” presenting the truth that a husband’s sacrificial love and a wife’s gracious submission come together to form a living, breathing presentation of the Gospel. This is the ultimate meaning of marriage. Yes, marriage is the God-ordained outlet for sexuality. Yes, marriage is the context in which God intends for children to be raised. Yes, God uses marriage to bless His people in manifold ways and allow us to experience unique joys. But none of those things are the Lord’s ultimate purpose for marriage. His ultimate purpose for this seemingly human institution is to display something divine. Marriage gets its significance from what it points to – namely, Christ and His love for His bride, the church.
Maybe your joy in your marriage is everything it should be. Maybe your husband leads you sacrificially and loves you unconditionally and makes it easy for you to submit to his headship. Maybe you two encourage one another and go on routine dates and are thriving spiritually, emotionally, and sexually. Rejoice. A good marriage is one of the finest gifts this side of heaven. Thank the Lord, Who is the Giver of every good gift, for your bond with your husband (James 1:17a). But in the midst of your joy, do not lose sight. As happy as your husband makes you and as lovely as your marriage is, it is not the great end-all. Your marriage is an image…a portrayal of something even lovelier – Christ and His love for sinners.
But maybe this is not your reality. Maybe you struggle to submit. Maybe your marriage hit a rough patch years back and never quite recovered. Maybe your sex life has seen better days. Maybe you wonder why you ever made your vows in the first place. Take heart, dear one. There is hope for your marriage.
There is a profound reason why Christian marriages generally last longer than non-Christian marriages. And that is because, by grace, we understand what marriage is for. If we believed that marriage’s main purpose was to make us happy, most of us would divorce rather quickly. Unfortunately, many couples do. But when we understand that the main purpose of marriage is not merely to make us happy, but rather to portray Christ’s undying love for the church and the church’s faithful devotion to Him, our marriages become more stable. That is not to say that Christian couples never experience relational hardship or disagree or even fight. We do. But even though our marriages may “…sometimes wobble, [we can rest assured that] they are suspended from above and firmly attached. By God’s grace, [our marriages] will not crash to the ground” (This Momentary Marriage). Put your hope in Christ’s promises and pray ceaselessly for your marriage. Restoration is possible, and joy is within reach. Praise God for His faithfulness and delight once more in the man with whom God has joined you.
**Please note that the section above does not apply to you if you are in an abusive relationship (either emotionally or physically) or if your husband is chronically and unrepentantly unfaithful. If you are in a situation like this, please seek Christian counseling.
Wives, every day you are painting a picture of your Savior. Use vibrant colors of joy, forgiveness, and tenderness. Do not muddy your palette with resentment or discord. Pray for your husband and love him well. Being a wife is a grand vocation. Make every effort to do it well, and all to the glory of God.
“God makes your marriage indissoluble, and protects it from every danger that may threaten it from within and without; he will be the guarantor of its indissolubility. It is a blessed thing to know that no power on earth, no temptation, no human frailty can dissolve what God holds together; indeed, anyone who knows that may say confidently: ‘What God has joined together, can no man put asunder.’ Free from all the anxiety that is always a characteristic of love, you can now say to each other with complete and confident assurance: ‘We can never lose each other now; by the will of God, we belong to each other till death.’” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison)
Much love to you,
This Excited and Grateful Bride-to-Be