The beauty of marriage can never be fully understood apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship is open to everyone.
Marriage between a man and a woman is meant to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church. That relationship between Christ and the Church is certainly profound and amazing. Christ came to earth as a man, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross for our sins, taking the punishment we so richly deserved, he is now in heaven interceding for us and will one day return to take us as his own. In the meantime the Church depends on him, serves him, and seeks to glorify him in all of life.
In Ephesians 5 Paul is saying, in effect, “Guess what, your marriage is kind of like that!” So, although this truth about your marriage is something you can understand, it still ought to be profoundly mysterious and amazing, for it makes your marriage as holy a human relationship as one can imagine.
Many marriages struggle because they do not see their marriage as profound, mysterious or amazing. They only see themselves as two married people. It is all too common to have a marriage centered on you, your spouse, your kids, your goals or anything else that people can try to live that God did not intend.
As Christians, we have an incredible privilege of knowing the ultimate purpose for marriage. We can see that the purpose of marriage goes beyond personal fulfillment. The biblical purpose of marriage is not man-centered. It’s God’s centered. Your marriage is meant to point to the truth of the crucified and risen Savior who will return for his Bride, the church.
Your marriage is meant to be, by the grace of God, the best echo, the most faithful reflection of that relationship you can possibly be. It’s about being genuinely united in a strong, godly, intimate relationship that echoes the one between Christ and the Church.
Please don’t think of this as merely a helpful illustration or an interesting perspective. It’s much more than that. This is the essence of your marriage. This is the divine purpose of your marriage. But unless you grasp this – unless there’s a conviction that marriage is ultimately meant to bring glory to God by echoing the relationship between Christ and the Church – your marriage will only be superficial and your fulfillment will be temporary. But by God’s grace and power, marriage can reflect, in some real yet imperfect way, the relationship between Christ and the church.