Anna and I have been reading John Piper’s recent book on marriage, entitled This Momentary Marriage. The premise of the book is simple: that marriage is the doing of God and is meant to be the display of God.
Piper looks to two amazing descriptions of marriage in the Scriptures to develop this thesis. The first is in Matthew 19, where Jesus reaches back to quote and explain the first statement about marriage in Genesis 2.
“[Jesus] answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’” (Matthew 19:4-6, emphasis added).
Jesus is telling us that marriage is the doing of God—that we come together to make covenant vows, but it is God who joins a man and his wife together. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul cites the same passage as Jesus did, but he adds another element to the purpose of marriage:
“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
Paul is telling us that marriage is the display of God—that the covenant of marriage, joining two into one, points to a higher, eternal covenant between Jesus and His bride, the church. What Paul is saying is that the purpose of marriage is to display the glory of God as seen by Christ’s sacrifice for, love of, and eternal commitment to all of His people.
As Anna and I read last night, we considered what it means for our marriage to be a display of God’s glory, as rooted in God’s work. Marriage is unbelievably joyful at times, and it’s frustrating at other times. I am learning to see the depths of my own sin—selfishness, pride, self-righteousness—and nothing has revealed this to me more than marriage.
Part of the encouragement we read in one of the chapters was the notion that a man and woman are to view each other in marriage as God views each of us—as righteous as Jesus. This isn’t easy, because we know, and have to deal with, each others’ faults and sins all the time. But being justified by God means He has applied, or imputed, Jesus’ righteousness to us, so that when God sees us, He sees us as righteous as His Son.
This is astounding, and it has enormous implications on how we all treat our spouses in marriage. If we see each other in this way, that the other is perfect in the eyes of God, specifically because of Jesus, then we’re going to find grace to forgive and the freedom to make allowances for one another’s faults.
This is where we can find grace in marriage: the sins of our marriages can be overcome with grace because of the greater reality of God’s grace triumphing over our sin against Him. May we be the kind of husbands and wives who receive grace from God so that we can share that grace with others—all so that the world may see the work and display of God in our marriages.
Question: Have you considered marriage to primarily be a display of God’s glory in Jesus?