Marriage has become such a hot topic and, sadly, an institution that appears to be outdated in its meaning and in true commitment. Well, let me assure you that its meaning, nor the institution that was created by God has changed. So, we’re going to be talking about marriage off and on throughout the year.
What is unique about Christian marriage? I realize when it comes to marriage, when it comes to happy marriage, when it comes to meaningful marriage—for all of history in all kind of cultures, all kind of religions—you can have very meaningful and happy Hindu marriages and Muslim marriages and Buddhist marriages and agnostic marriages and atheistic marriages. You can have all kinds of ideologies and cultures represented all through history and find meaningful marriage. But what is really unique about Christian marriage? What is it that sets it apart from other marriages? It begins with a radically counter-cultural teaching in Scripture – “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
What is so radically difficult in the starting point of Christian marriage is this: Most of the time when you talk to a young woman or a young man who is engaged, they’ll make a comment like, “He’s the man of my dreams. I know he is going to make me happy.” Or the young man says, “I know that she’s just what I’ve been looking for. I know that she is going to make me happy.” Do you see the inherent problem? The focus is all about ‘me.’ But in a Christian marriage, it is just the opposite. God’s Word tells us to be subject to one another. (That’s actually a military term.) To be “subject to” means to come under the authority of the other. In other words, the husband and wife are to be mutually submissive to one another. How? It comes out of a mutual reverence for Christ. “Fear of Christ” means “reverence for Christ.” None of us can come close to living this out because we are such sinners. But Christ saves us from our sinfulness and gives us the ability to seek the best interest for our spouse before our own.
Yes, there are differing roles in Christian marriages for the husband and the wife (and we’ll get to that tomorrow), but the starting point of mutual submission is the reverence for Christ. And that is radically counter-cultural. Here’s what is really awesome – it makes true Christian marriages the marriages we all want to have!