I am one of those blessed people who grew up in a good home that was fairly normal and functional. There was love. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and my dad worked long hours. We did not have a lot. There were times when we just had rice and salt for meal, but we were well cared for. It was not a home without its kinks, but it was a good home where there was humor and good times which overbalanced the problems that were present. Although our old house is now gone buried by the volcano, Mt. Pinatubo, I have many pleasant memories of our home. In spite of that, there were times when there were some real fireworks.
My parents rarely fought, but I remember one time early in the evening after I arrived from High School. I heard my mom sobbing loudly. Then my father came out of the room looking really angry and upset. But when he saw me, he looked a little embarrassed. At that time I did not know the whole story but later on my mom told me what happened and admitted her part of the blame. She had said something to one of our neighbors that should have been kept confidentially in our family. But I remember the next morning how strange I felt when we sat down for breakfast and everyone was just very quiet.
All marriages have their tense moments, and some have more than others. All homes have problems, some are relatively small and some are more serious. The serious problems are sometimes denied and therefore unresolved, and at other times the conflicts are an obvious and open wound. But in spite of how bad things might be, the good news of Jesus Christ is that we do not have to remain like we are. We can change. Our marriage relationships can change as well. What may look hopeless can become promising. What may seem destructive, it can become redemptive. Jesus is in the business of changing lives and marriages for the good.
As we consider how marriage can be redemptive, the main point to consider is: The relationship of the church with Jesus Christ is our model to behold. Marriage is intended to be one of the closest thing on earth we know about God’s love for us. In the scripture we read in Ezekiel, and many other passages, God deliberately compares his relationship with us to the relationship of marriage. God is the husband and we are the wife. There is intense attraction and affection, courtship, tender caring, attention, protection, gifts, and strong commitment on the part of God toward his people. We have the same imagery intensified in the Old Testament book of Hosea.
In the New Testament, we have the same comparison where Christ’s love for the church, his people, is expressed in romantic terms and parallels the marriage relationship. Our marriage relationship is to reflect the love between Christ and the church — the same love, commitment, kindness and forgiveness. In the book of Ephesians we read: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:25-32).
This is a great responsibility and a great blessing. As we live together we model the sacrificial, servant love of Christ for each other, and the result is that we experience the same joyful and playful love that Christ has for his people. In other words, our relationship with our husband or wife is not something that is just between us. Our marriage is to be a living statement to the world of what Christ’s love for us is like — the intimacy, the joy, the commitment and love. This sanctifies the marriage relationship and makes it holy.
I look back 31 years ago when my wife and I were married. Our relationship brought forth four wonderful children who love the Lord. We started with only the two of us but because of the love God gave us, we are now six in the family. In addition, three of our kids are married. That gave us additional children and presently with two grandchildren and I am sure a few more in the future. It is a blessing to have a part in the creative nature of God.
Our marriage is never without any problems. My wife and I have learned through the years not to have much high expectations from each other. We know we are but human and are subject to our own limitations and selfishness. Yet we are happy. It is our understanding and the reality of Jesus’ presence in our marriage that has helped us find joy, faithfulness and love through the years. That is the greatest lesson I can share. It is only through Jesus Christ in our marriage and family where life with my wife and children has its real meaning and identity.