The gospel and marriage… it’s hard to separate the two. In the Bible, both are inextricably linked. Let’s consider how the Bible ties these two ideas together.
The Bible uses marriage to remind you that your first allegiance is to Christ.
Paul writes, “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Cor. 11:3). That’s right… if you are a Christian, you have one husband—Christ. Just as a faithful husband or wife is committed to his/her spouse, your loyalty is foremost to your Savior. He is preeminent; and he is your greatest priority over anything and everything. Gospel-centered marriages start with an abiding love for Christ.
The Bible uses marital infidelity to warn us to not run away from God.
Adultery is when someone goes outside the boundaries of the marriage covenant to have sexual relations with someone other than his/her spouse. Spiritual adultery is when men and women run away from God and run to the world. They become more preoccupied with the world and more persuaded by its desires, and turn themselves into enemies of God.
James decries: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Love of the world and love of God cannot co-exist. Just as an adulterous spouse destroys his marriage because of his promiscuity, our flirtations with the world jeopardize our relationship with God. Gospel-centered marriages encourage us to flee from the adulterous desires of this world, and to run to God and His superior love.
The Bible uses Christ’s death for sinners to define a husband’s care for his wife.
Paul defines a husband’s love for his wife as giving himself up for her.
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 (Eph. 5:25-27).
Traditional values say that a husband’s role is to provide for his family by putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. While providing for your wife is a good thing, biblical husbandry requires self-sacrifice that is much greater. Rarely will a husband literally give up his life to protect his wife. More commonly, love and self-sacrifice require a husband to daily give over his entire life for his bride.
Husbands, it requires you to put to death your selfish desires; to consistently put yourself second and to put your wife first. Just as Christ gave up his life for us, so also a husband must be willing to give up his life for his wife.
What an enormously difficult thing this is! But what an enormously big God we serve. He provides an abundance of grace to husbands, who on their own could never fulfill this enormous task. Gospel-centered marriages encourage husbands to live like Christ by giving up their life for their bride.
The Bible uses the church’s following of Christ to define the wife’s role in marriage.
In his explanation of gospel-centered marriages, Paul also describes wives and their role in relating to their husbands. “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:24).
A wife’s life is to resemble the church and its submission to Christ as its Head. The world says that to submit to someone is to basically become a slave to another. As controversial as the topic of submission might be in our culture, Christians have a much more sound definition—trust.
When a wife submits to her husband, she says to him, “I trust you and therefore I’m willing to follow your leadership in our marriage.” Where does this trust come from? It comes from the Bible, which teaches us that God is trustworthy (Prov. 3:5-6; Matt 27:43). It also comes from a knowledge that if God is trustworthy (1 Sam. 15:29), then so also is His Word.
Wives submit to their husbands because they know that God’s Word is a trustworthy guide for their life (Col. 3:18; Eph. 5:22-24; 1 Pet. 3:5-6). Gospel-centered marriages encourage wives to follow the example of the church in trusting, following and submitting to their husbands.
The Bible uses human marriage to point us to a greater spiritual reality.
It is not that God created human marriage, and then one day thought, “The relationship between Christ and the church is a lot like human marriage.” No, Paul explains that human marriage is meant to be a pointer to a much greater spiritual reality—the relationship of Christ and his bride, the church.
Referring to marriage, Paul writes: “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).
Unbeknownst to the people of Moses’ day, God created human marriage to be a display of the relationship with Christ and His church. That means, how you communicate with your spouse, how you care for each other, how you parent together, how you handle the finances, how you run your home together, how you work as a team… all of these things model the relationship of Christ and the church to those watching you.
Your marriage is a display of the gospel. Gospel-centered marriages use daily human struggles to point to a much greater marriage—the relationship between the groom, Christ, and His beautiful bride, the church.
Join the Conversation
How can a Christ-centered marital focus change how (and why) you relate to your spouse?