Let’s begin in the beginning. Genesis 1, verse 1. It says:
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God…
It’s a very simple, affirmative statement. God existed in the beginning. The word ‘God’ here is Elohim. That is a uni-plural word like “church” or “team”. It’s more than one.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
So, there were multiple beings in the beginning. Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus Christ was equal with God, but He emptied Himself and became obedient unto death. Christ, the Word, subjected Himself and became subordinate to the Father. He speaks (in His spoken word in the Bible) of “God the Father”, and He speaks of Himself as the “Son of God”. Here are two beings, one in voluntary submission to the other. So, they are a family. They are a ruling dynasty, a Kingdom.
These two beings decided to make humankind and they made humankind similar to Them, like Them.
Genesis 1:26 And God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness;
27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him…
So human beings are made in the image of the God family. And that’s not just physically or in cognitive capacity, but in our full potential.
1 John 3:1 Behold! What glorious love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God!
When He is manifested we shall be like Him.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with uncovered faces beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
So, our capacity, our potential, is to be just like God the Father and God His Son, to be god beings. And this is, perhaps, the greatest knowledge we can be given. The recognition that the God Family is recreating Itself in us. And everything They do is for a reason. In Genesis we see that God made two sexes.
Genesis 1:27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him. He created them male and female.
The very next scripture says that we are to be fruitful and multiply. That is, we’re to have sex and we are to create more beings like ourselves.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth…
Further instructions in chapter 2 say that these beings, male and female, are to become one flesh in marriage.
Genesis 2:22 Then the LORD God made the rib (which He had taken out of the man) into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
23 And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason (that is, for the sake of the union) shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife—and they shall become one flesh.
So, here we see that God ordained the institution of marriage. He gave Adam a wife and him as a husband to her. Furthermore, God ordained sex. They were to become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.
31 And God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was exceedingly good…
So, God made men and women. He told them to be married and to be joined, to be unified together. God is a Creator and a great educator. He is teaching us. And this is perhaps the best description of all the reasons why we are to undertake marriage.
Ephesians 5:21 Submit yourselves to one another in the fear of God.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord;
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
24 For even as the church is subject to Christ, in the same way also let wives be subject to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your own wives, in the same way that Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;
26 So that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it with the washing of the water by the Word;
27 That He might present it to Himself as the glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it might be holy and without blame.
28 In the same way, husbands are duty-bound to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself;
29 For no man has ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord does the church.
30 For we are members of His body—of His flesh and of His bones.
31 For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery; but I am speaking in respect to Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless, let each one of you love his wife even as himself; and let each wife see that she reverence her husband.
The marriage union teaches us about the God family union. We know from various scriptures that God the Father and God the Son are joined very closely together.
John 10:30 I and the Father are one. (Christ here is speaking)
God desires that we learn and embody the kind of closeness that the two of Them enjoy. Christ here is praying:
John 17:20 I do not pray for these only, but also for those who shall believe in Me through their word;
21 That they all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, in order that the world may believe that You did send Me.
So we again ask the question: Why did God design marriage? Because we are destined to be in that kind of close relationship with the God family.
Isaiah 54:5 Your maker is your husband.
Our maker is the Word, Christ. The Song of Solomon is a wonderful work that is a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the Church. It is a sweet and intimate story about marriage. The Church is to marry Christ. And therefore, we are to learn faithfulness, intimacy and love; the kind of love and intimacy that will be in that relationship.
Marriage, sex and procreation are fundamental to God’s design for us. Marriage is a blessing. It’s a model and it is a womb for the development of God-beings. This is a divinely instituted and sacred thing. It is a God-plane relationship.
So, all the singles are groaning, but here is some encouragement. Being unmarried is also a good thing. Here Paul is encouraging the Corinthian Church.
1 Corinthians 7:7 For I wish that all men might be even as myself (he was unmarried). But each one has his own gift from God; one is this way, and another is that way.
8 Now I say to the unmarried and to the widows that it is good for them if they can remain even as I am.
Marriage itself is not the point. There are many ways of being and there are many functions.
1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are differences of gifts, but the same Spirit;
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are differences of operations, but it is the same God Who is working all things in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the benefit of all.
It is not God’s intention that all of us have exactly the same experience and have the same function.
12 For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the one body, though many, are one body; so also is Christ.
14 For the body of Christ is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” would this then cause it not to be part of the body?
16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” would this then cause it not to be part of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be?
18 But now has God Himself placed each one of the members in the body according to His own will.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and you are all individual members.
God is cultivating a garden. A healthy garden has bio-diversity. It has different types of plants that are growing at different rates that were planted at different times. And so, too, does the body of Christ.
That said, I’m not going to apologize for the importance of marriage. Marriage is the heart of the Body of Christ. Marriages create families and families create communities. Married couples in the Church should be pillars supplying strength to the entire temple of God.
So, it is a blessing to those of us who are married and we must treasure and honor it despite all of what society tells us about marriage. It is denigrated in small and great ways. Similarly, the whole Church community should support marriage. Whether you are single or married, it is part of your job to support and defend marriage as an institution and the growth and improvement of the marriages of the people in the Church, to foster the health and well-being of that marriage relationship.
Marriage is breaking down in the world and we can see very readily the results. Decline. Isolation. Violence. Essentially physical and emotional desolation. How are we doing?
Matthew 7:16 You shall know them by their fruits. They do not gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, do they?
17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a corrupt tree produces evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree produce good fruit.
19 Every tree that is not producing good fruit is cut down and is cast into the fire.
This is God’s ecclesia, His assembly and we possess truth. We have the hope of the world. We are His ambassadors to a lost world. We have reason; we have purpose. And that purpose, as we’ve discussed, is not about you and me. It’s about a new creation.
We have a job to do. It is a diverse garden. There are different roles, there are different experiences. There is different timing for each of us. But every one of us must be growing. We must be progressing and we must be producing godly fruit.
What are we to do then? How do we progress?
Well, here’s the hypothesis. I don’t know, but I’ll ask the question. Is the condition of the Church a reflection of our marriages? God bound His people – one in Christ – and told us to exemplify Him and to preach the gospel in all the world. Christ prayed:
John 17:20 …for all those who shall believe in Me …
21 That they all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, in order that the world may believe that You did send Me.
It is by our unity and our oneness that God’s salvation will be revealed to the world. Yet we are fragmenting to oblivion. God binds marriages.
Matthew 10:7 For this cause (that is, the union of man and woman) shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife;
8 And the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two, but one flesh.
9 Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.
1 Peter 3: 7. Despite this instruction, divorce in the Church is increasingly commonplace. That’s a topic that is too tender to touch. There is so much pain and so many difficult circumstances for people in the Church, I can’t go near it. But I do know that that kind of break drives wedges between God’s people, particularly when it exists within various folds of the flock and is endorsed.
But, it’s not just divorce which is a very extreme example. Every one of us has issues in our marriages that need to be improved. We have unbalanced, worldly influenced attitudes that we bring to that relationship.
1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, you husbands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, as with a weaker vessel, giving them honor as women, and as joint heirs of the grace of life so that your prayers may not be cut off.
Is your marriage perfect? Does your treatment of your wife perhaps hinder your prayers? Is the effectiveness of the Church hindered by our marriage relationships? Sin, in even the smallest amounts, corrupts. It separates and it enfeebles us.
What to do? Let’s start with husbands. What if the men of the Church were fantastic husbands? What effect would that have on our marriages, on our families, on our Church and on our effectiveness in witnessing the message of the Kingdom of God?
The definition of a husband is not just a man. It was originally not actually even tied to man. It is a manager, a steward, a tiller of the soil, a cultivator. So, that’s relevant to all of us, men and women alike, because we are all to cultivate and steward that which is entrusted to us.
Married men are to master husbandry, certainly. Boys and young men who are not married, you’ve got work to do, too. Prepare and build to understand what it is to be a husband. Old men, be an example; be a counselor of husbandry. Women, understand what it is to be a husband. Help us in that task and work on your own role. Whether you are six or eighty-six years old, married or single, the Church and the world need husbandry.
A husband’s role is expansive. Three basic concepts:
1. We are to provide physically. We should be a productive resource. We should be giving economic substance. We should be a well-spring of well-being.
2. We are to provide shelter emotionally. We must be kind, stable and considerate.
3. We are to lead spiritually. That includes knowledge, obedience to God and providing focus.
The men we see in the world are being destroyed. They are weak but macho; lazy but violent; infantilized and immature yet worldly; they are cowardly and simultaneously brash. It is a sad state for mankind to observe what, particularly in the western world, men have become. We in the Church are affected. These diseases bleed in. Even in the smallest of ways. You can’t even identify it for yourself.
It’s easy to be domineering and simultaneously lack grit and substance. It’s also easy, conversely to be soft, but unkind. I am guilty! Doing some review of this has been very difficult to face the correction that comes when you ask God for it. We have to dig it out. And ladies, you have your own work to do. What is your fruit!?! Men, what are you producing? And I’m not talking about getting rich. I’m talking about being an anchor. I don’t have all the answers. All I can do is suggest we get on our knees and ask to be shown. But let’s just check a couple of principles. What is your attitude toward your wife?
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus;
6 Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 But emptied Himself, and was made in the likeness of men, and took the form of a servant;
8 And being found in the manner of man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
He did that in submission to God the Father for love of us, His future bride. Christ gave His life for us. Husbands are asked to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the Church. He died so that they/we could flourish.
So, husbands, what part of your life are you holding back? What part of your life have you not given up for the well-being of your wife? And for that piece you’re holding back, how does it affect your wife? Does it impair her? Does she flourish?
The next principle: how do you evaluate your spiritual health? Christ, we often point out, did nothing except what He did through the Father, by the Father’s power, at the Father’s instruction.
John 8:28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you yourselves shall know that I AM, and that I do nothing of Myself. But as the Father taught Me, these things I speak.
Something we try to emulate in seeking and following the Father’s will. But the opposite side of that is that God the Father did nothing except what He did through Christ. John 1:3. All of His work was accomplished through Christ.
John 1:3 All things came into being through Him (that is Christ), and not even one thing that was created came into being without Him.
If that’s the relationship we are trying to exemplify, what does that imply about how a husband should be viewing and measuring his progress and the production of fruit? The principle is that the work of a husband is to produce fruit through his wife! Unless she is actively contesting you, then how she is flourishing is perhaps the greatest measure of your spiritual progress! That’s not just for husbands. That’s for all people who are husbanding resources. So, whether you are husbanding as a husband, as a father, as a brother, as an employer, as a mother, as a teacher; in many different ways we husband. How we express godly nature through other people, to help them grow with outgoing concern, is a wonderful way to see how you’re really progressing.
This is really hard stuff: to dig in and talk about marriage and to suggest that we’re measuring our progress by these relationships. I know it’s painful. We have scars. We have baggage. We have difficulties and failures. When you get down on your knees and you ask to be shown, you will be shown and it will hurt. There are flaws that we carry that are so deep that we can’t see our way out of them. That can be depressing.
But, we have access to the Holy Spirit, the tree of life, the very power of God. Through repentance and baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ has given us all things pertaining to life and the precious promise that we can escape our corruption and partake in the divine nature. That’s in 2 Peter 1: 2. But here in Hebrews 10:16, breaking into the middle of that verse:
Hebrews 10:16 … ‘I will give My laws into their hearts, and I will inscribe them in their minds;
17 And their sins and lawlessness I will not remember ever again.’ ”
19 Therefore, brethren, having confidence to enter into the true holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which He consecrated for us through the veil (that is, His flesh),
21 And having a great High Priest over the house of God,
22 Let us approach God with a true heart, with full conviction of faith, our hearts having been purified from a wicked conscience, and our bodies having been washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast without wavering to the hope that we profess, for He Who promised is faithful;
24 And let us be concerned about one another, and be stirring up one another unto love and good works;
We are without excuse. We must build the Holy Spirit into our marriages. Repent. Ask God to show you your flaws. Change and bear fruit.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
18 And all things are from God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 Which is, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and He has entrusted to us this message of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; and God, (as it were) is exhorting you through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, “Be reconciled to God.”
21 For He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. So men, let’s put down the baggage of sin and utilize the power of God’s Holy Spirit to bear fruit. Be husbands of God’s new creation and let’s see what God accomplishes through us.
By Staff Writer