The Secret of Marriage


man and woman's head near each other
Photo Caption: Photo by Jennifer Marquez on Unsplash

“As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.“ Ephesians 5:31–32 (NLT)

One of the questions people who have been married a long time get asked so much is, “What’s the secret to your marriage?” Some people answer, “We hold hands and take a walk every day,” “We never go to bed mad at each other,” “We make each other a sandwich every night,” “He washes, I dry,” or “We talk about everything.”

Everyone wants to know the secret to marriage. But here’s the real secret: Christ and the church. That’s what Paul wrote in Ephesians when he said, “This is a great mystery…” Essentially, here’s the secret: it’s Christ and His bride.

So the secret to marriage is that in the beginning of time, the first thing that happened after creation was a wedding. The last thing that happens in the book of Revelation is a wedding. Every marriage that has happened and will happen between Adam and Eve and the end of time is another reminder of Christ and His bride. That’s why He instituted marriage—this was His forever-illustrated sermon of what’s going to happen at the end of time: Christ is coming back for His bride.

In the book of John, when Jesus says, “In my father’s house there are many rooms,” this wasn’t about end-time prophecy as much as it was about marriage. Here’s why: Historically, the eldest son in a Jewish family, when he found his wife, would add an addition (a room) to his father’s home. He added a room to his father’s home because the eldest son doesn’t move out and go live somewhere else after he gets married. In Jewish culture, the eldest son is going to inherit from his father—everything is going to him. So when a son finds his wife, he goes and builds a room onto his father’s house. Then he goes and gets his wife from her father, brings her to his father’s house, and they go into the room that he prepared.

Think about it again now. “In my father’s house are many rooms […] I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2–3). He’s talking about the bride—this is marriage language!

The secret to marriage isn’t really all the things we do to stay with each other at the micro level. The 100,000-foot macro view is that it’s about Christ and His church.

Now you understand why Satan hates marriage so much. Of course, he would try to come destroy God’s image of marriage. Because in destroying that image—in destroying another marriage—he destroys another illustrated sermon.

So, Adam and Eve were illustrating and explaining Jesus. Abraham and Sarah. Isaac and Rebecca. Jacob and Leah. Marriage has been explaining Jesus all throughout human history. The three main things that show up in marriage are the three main things Jesus shows in His earthly ministry—unity, sacrifice, and love.

Marriage Shows Unity.

This is something Jesus said, “I wish they were one as we are one” (John 17:11 & 22). “Abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4–7). Everything in Jesus’s earthly ministry and everything about His sacrifice on the cross has been about unity.

Marriage Shows Sacrifice.

When you get married, you go to an altar for the ceremony, right? But what happens at an altar? A sacrifice is made. Marriage is about the death of the person you showed up as. Most couples fight like hell to not die in their first two to four years of marriage. But in a sacrifice, you bring something living to the altar to kill. In a marriage, you’re bringing a living sacrifice to the altar to die, saying, “The person I showed up as is going to die in this union, and the person you showed up as is going to die in this union.”

This is why these vows are so sober. For better or for worse is probably going to happen when you’re dying. For richer or for poorer? Dying. In sickness and in health? Dying.

Marriage Shows Love.

You know the phrase, “Take a picture; it’ll last longer”? That sentiment is why God gave us marriage. It’s a picture, over and over again, of what’s going to happen when time folds up—there’s going to be a wedding of Christ and His bride. Until then, all of humanity as it relates to marriage is meant to be the photo album God uses to show the world how much He loves them.

So here’s the question I’ll leave you with: If your marriage to your spouse was the last picture God had on earth, what would people see? Would they be able to look at your marriage and go, “That’s how Christ loves His bride. That’s how the bride loves Christ. I can see the picture of God in their union.”

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