The Epistle – June 2023


“For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5

What does the Bible say about marriage? Most would assume that the answer to this question is simply a collection of Bible passages about husbands and wives living together in the covenant God made in Eden. One would also expect this teaching to be about what is expected of each partner in this covenant. Surprisingly, this is not the case.

The Bible actually refers to two marriage covenants and compares them. The most frequent Biblical teaching is about the marriage covenant of salvation between God/Christ and Israel/Church. Both the Old Testament and New Testament speak of the covenant of salvation as being a marriage. Husbands and wives are called to see the covenant of salvation as the reality that they reflect in living out their own covenant relationship. Paul, in Ephesians 5, calls on husbands to love their wives as Christ does the Church, and calls wives to be subject to their husbands as the Church is to Christ. What does that mean? Jesus’ headship is lived out in His sacrificial love for us. In love, He established His covenant relationship with us by His death on the cross. Husbands are called to establish their households by showing the love of Jesus to their wives. The Church receives Jesus’ love and salvation, and responds by her love for Him. Wives are called to receive the love of their husbands and respond in love for him. Our relationships are not lived out in compliance with commands, but in the love of God given us in Jesus.

What does this teaching of two covenants say about the current issue concerning male and female? Modern secular thought denies the distinction between male and female. The idea is that male and female are essentially and functionally the same. This clearly is contrary to the Genesis account of the creation of male and female in Genesis 1 and 2. It also is contrary to the Biblical discussion of couples reflecting Christ and Church in marriage. To blur the differences between male and female is to blur the distinction between Christ and Church, and thus to deny the essence of our salvation. Instead, we are called to rejoice in that distinction as we live in the joy of salvation, and reflect the covenant of salvation by our love for one another in marriage. We stand on the Word of God, which calls us to a living confession of the covenant of God’s gracious salvation.