Marriage Puts the Glory of the Gospel on Display

Marriage continues to be a hot topic in the news and around the Internet. But it’s not just in the news, it’s in pop culture, too. Marvel Comics came out in full support of gay marriage with one of their characters marrying his boyfriend in a June issue of an X-Men comic. DC Comics announced one of their “iconic” characters will be coming out around the same time. There’s all this talk about the rightness or wrongness of same-sex marriage, culture wars, and a lot of it on both sides is starting to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

May 27, 2012, was Emily’s and my sixth wedding anniversary; we celebrated with a pretty low-key day of catching up on laundry (there was a water conservation statement issued this week in our city) and buying some groceries before finally going out on our first date without any children with us since Hudson was born. It also offered an opportunity to reflect on the purpose of marriage, a purpose that John Piper explains so well in This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence:

Staying married is not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant. “Till death do us part” or “As long as we both shall live” is a sacred covenant promise—the same kind Jesus made with his bride when he died for her. Therefore, what makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God’s eyes is not merely that it involves covenant-breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and his covenant. Christ will never leave his wife. Ever. There may be times of painful distance and tragic backsliding on our part. But Christ keeps his covenant forever. Marriage is a display of that! That is the ultimate thing we can say about it. It puts the glory of Christ’s covenant-keeping love on display.

The most important implication of this conclusion is that keeping covenant with our spouse is as important as telling the truth about God’s covenant with us in Jesus Christ. Marriage is not mainly about being or staying in love. It’s mainly about telling the truth with our lives. It’s about portraying something true about Jesus Christ and the way he relates to his people. It is about showing in real life the glory of the gospel.

Jesus died for sinners. He forged a covenant in the white-hot heat of his suffering in our place. He made an imperfect bride his own with the price of his blood and covered her with the garments of his own righteousness. He said, “I am with you . . . to the end of the age. . . . I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). Marriage is meant by God to put that gospel reality on display in the world. That is why we are married. That is why all married people are married, even when they don’t know and embrace this gospel.

John Piper, This Momentary Marriage (Kindle Edition)

“Marriage is meant by God to put that gospel reality on display in the world.” If this isn’t what we point to in our defense of the biblical view of marriage, is it possible we’ve missed the point?

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