Recently our Sunday School teacher asked this question of our class of all married ladies.
Our responses? Silence.
Her eyes widened. “Okay, I’m scared.”
Our eyes widened.
“Asking a group of married ladies the definition of marriage and no one answers scares me,” she explained.
With a combined total of approximately 245 years of marriage among the eight of us, it was not ignorance that prompted the silence. So why could we not answer that simple question? Is marriage that mysterious?
The Bible agrees that the marriage union is a mystery, but to aid our understanding it points out that it is an earthly type of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Ephesians 5:31, 32 explains, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”
Doug Bannister, in his book, Sacred Quest, writes, “God has provided us with a model to use as a pattern for our relationship with Christ. This model is marriage. It is the richest of all human friendships because marriage partners unite in soul, life, and body.”
Elizabeth Elliot described the dynamics of marriage as the masculine invitation and the feminine response.
Like a mirror, looking to Jesus and the Church helps us gain a better understanding of earthly marriage. Christ initiates the relationship with His loving plan of salvation and His Bride responds in complete repentance, humility, devotion and worship. They are united in the Holy Spirit, share the same goals and treasure the same values. They are completely commited to each other for all eternity and will share their intimacy and fellowship with no other spirit. So it should be in marriage; the husband lovingly invites, the wife responds in humility and devotion, and the two become united in life, soul and body. Together they write their own history and create a new legacy and heritage. In the bonds of holy matrimony they are committed to one another and to no one else “until death do us part.” That is what makes marriage rich and priceless.
Yes, marriage is a great mystery, but it is not mysterious. Jesus has shown us its principles by example. He is the able One, and He is the enabler.