The Gospel and Marriage Explain One Another

Among the many books I’m reading right now is The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim and Kathy Keller and (as I’m sure will be surprising to exactly no one) I’m finding it to be tremendously helpful. Here’s one reason why:

In Ephesians 5, Paul shows us that even on earth, Jesus did not use his power to oppress us but to sacrifice everything to bring us into union with him. . . . If God had the gospel of Jesus’s salvation in mind when he established marriage, then marriage only “works” to the degree that [it] approximates the pattern of God’s self-giving love in Christ. What Paul is saying not only answers the objection that marriage is oppressive and restrictive, but it also addresses the sense that the demands of marriage are overwhelming. There is so much to do that we don’t know where to start. Start here, Paul says. Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow.

This is the secret—that the gospel of Jesus and marriage explain one another. That when God invented marriage, he already had the saving work of Jesus in mind. (pp. 46-47)

This is such a simple, but helpful explanation of the “mystery” to which Paul alludes in Ephesians 5. If we a framework for understanding how to love our spouses, we look to Jesus. When we want to show people how the gospel makes sense in real life, we point to a healthy marriage where both spouses are lovingly and humbly serving one another just as Christ humbled himself to serve us. Beautiful!


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  • Aimee Byrd

    I just did a Reading Reflection on this one too. What a great book!

  • Charles Specht

    So true.  You understand the gospel more by having a biblical outlook on marriage.  The two go hand in hand.  Good article!

  • Chris Gagner

    Husbands are called to love their wives and be servant leaders in the same way that Christ is to the church. Wives are called to submit to their husbands role as head in the same way that the church submits to Christ. When marriage reflects the relationship between Jesus and the church, it’s a beautiful thing. Want to bring God glory with your marriage? Model it after Jesus’s relationship with His brid.