Theology of Marriage
My sister is getting married today, found this in my seminary papers, posting here in their honor.
The pastoral care giver is often asked counsel to married people around them and premarital counseling practice. I want to share a brief synopsis of several aspects of my theology of marriage. First, discussing the basic ideal of marriage will occur followed by an analysis of the marital relationship and the paradigm of submission and love in Ephesians 5.
Genesis 2:24 (NET) states that a man leaves his parents and shall unite with his wife and become a new family. I believe that this verse teaches several important things regarding the marital relationship. Two independent adults joining together after leaving their parents from the marital relationship. This individuation (separation) from the family of origin is needed to help the new couple form strong relations with each other. This mutual exclusivity in the relationship helps bond the couple into a solid relationship.
Ecclesiastes 4 (NET) sustains this argument and furthers it by stating that a couple produces a better return for their work than an individual working alone. Additionally, the metaphor of a three-cord rope illustrates the principle that a couple in marriage united by God is not easily broken. Relying on God to make up the familial deficits helps the couple rely on God and assists the couple to acknowledge the systemic weaknesses in the family and reinforce their reliance on God for answers to their problems that are bigger than they could individually or corporate face.
Proverbs 31 (NET) is a key chapter in husband-wife relations in the Bible. This chapter focuses on the wisdom in the marital relationship and illuminates several aspects of the relationship of a healthy marriage. The first illustration that comes to light is that both the husband and wife do business together. The wife and husband are both seen as independent in the marital relationship, utilizing fiscal resources and acquiring property in profitable manners.
The husband is noted in Prov. 31 (NET) as praising her in the city gates (a prime location for political and commercial power players). This brings another aspect of the relationship. The public marriage between husband and wife should be characterized by the verbal accolades from one spouse to the other. This attitude of gratitude is uplifting to the soul and ego’s of the other spouse and helps build the esteem of the couple.
Another Proverbs 31 aspect that is brought into light is the accentuation on personal virtue over beauty and age. This and the Bibles exhortation for Christians not to be unequally yoked, is well documented as well. This focus on virtue and same faith marriage is to help the couple be strong and ensure the non-believing spouse does not harm the believing spouse’s relationship with God.
Finally, the most difficult passage for post-modern egocentric cultures revolve around Ephesians 5. There is a major paradigm for married couples that often gets misquoted and maybe even abused. This does not allow Christians to disavow its message or the fact that it is a major discourse in the Bible that is repeated in other epistles. The first verse is probably the most quoted one by feminists who want to prove that the Bible is sexist and abusive towards women. The Bible does instruct women to be submissive to men. The Greek hypotassomenoi is irrefutably the word used for submit and is in the present middle indicative voice which means that wives should continually submit to their husbands. Looking at this verse we need to account several things. The first point articulates that the above verses have spouses on relatively equal footing. The immediate context of Ephesians 5 has Paul instructing husbands to love their wives as Christ has loved the church. Paul goes on to reiterate the obvious extent of Christ’s love in that He died for the church, exhorting men to follow that example. This unveils a paradigm that many often rush through and refuse to acknowledge because of its true implications. This submit/love combination puts each spouse in position to serve the other selflessly. Perhaps it is put into terms that make it difficult for each spouse to swallow; yet it also puts him or her in terms that force him or her to perceive their own servitude towards the other. This mutual servitude makes the desire of each spouse the success of the other spouse over their own goals and the marriage above that of the self. This strain is probably the crux on which most strife occurs. When the goals deviate from this divine purpose of marriage, strife is sure to follow.
Theology of marriage is something that every pastor and counselor ought to contemplate if they are to engage in marriage, pre marital or family therapy. Understanding God’s sovereign design for marriage and how the Bible lays out how to conduct oneself in marriage helps the counselor intervene in appropriate ways.