Marriage has been on my mind. I recently attended a wedding for a coworker, and witnessed him and his now wife stand at the alter, exchange vows, and begin a new life together. The days leading up, I recall another coworker joking say that he still has a chance to turn around. Which, to his point, he in fact could still call the day off. But this man, who desired this woman to be his wife, was certainly not going to turn around. Marrying this woman was worth it to him, no matter the cost.
What is the cost of being a husband? No, I am not referring to the financial aspect, such as buying a ring. But a deeper, biblical understanding of the purpose of marriage and the God given role of the husband. It is something that I have put much thought into myself, and so I write these words as a single man prayerfully considering marriage.
First, what are the biblical qualifications for marriage? As a Christian, what are you to look for? There are exactly two criteria:
- They must be of the opposite sex (Genesis 2:24)
- They are to be believers (2 Corinthians 6:14)
So for me, I am to look for a Christian woman. That seems pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, we like to make things complicated, and do this thing we call dating. And in this dating thing, we like to sit down for hours and try to make getting to know each other as awkward as possible. Does he like me? Does she think I’m funny? Well, even before considering dating, I think it’s important to look inwards and see if you are in fact ready for marriage. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend dating until you are ready to be married, since that is the biblical end goal.
So, knowing what to look for in pursuit of a wife, what then should a man understand before considering becoming a husband? What is required on his behalf? There is much to be said about marriage in the Bible, and some of the most notable sections can be found found in 1 Corinthians 7, Colossians 3, and Ephesians 5. But, there is one verse that stands out from the rest.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)
This is the standard: to love your wife as Christ loved the church.
Do you know and understand what Jesus Christ did for the church? Do you feel the weight of that verse? Are you contemplating if you should pursue marriage because of this standard? Well, you should be thinking, and if not, then read it again and again until you do.
Marriage is not a decision to be taken lightly, and the same with being a husband. Paul continues on in verse 32, saying “this mystery is profound”, speaking on how the two become one flesh in marriage. There is much more to the marriage day than simply saying “I do”. You are united in a covenant before a Holy God. In addition, if the wife is called to submit to the husband, then how much more should the husband model Christ for that submission? I am convinced that the culture today, including Christians, do not consider in full the weight of this calling.
The love of Jesus Christ for the church is the standard for husbands. So then, how did Jesus love the people who would be called the church?
Jesus humbled himself for the church
Jesus Christ emptied himself, becoming the form of a servant, not counting equality with God something to be grasped (Philippians 2:5-7)
Jesus, who is the son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, never created and existing eternally, came down into creation. Becoming God-man is not as if Jesus lacked something. Instead, taking on flesh was a form of humility. He emptied himself by leaving heaven, where He dwelled in perfect unity with the Father. He set aside His eternal rights for the good of the church, and for the glory of God.
Are you ready to set aside your own wants and desires? Are you prepared to put someone else before yourself? Is your life agenda more important than your potential wife’s? Do you see your potential wife as someone you are to serve as Christ served the church? Having this mind among you as a future husband will be for the good of your marriage, your wife, and for the glory of God.
He sought the church.
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. (Mark 3:13)
Jesus called out the disciples by name. He pursued each one individually, He desired the church, and therefore called them to Himself. In the same way, each believer is called by the grace of God into His family. Every person that is written on the book of life was put there because God desired them to be with Him for all eternity. And it is God who does the pursuing first.
Men, find for yourself a wife. This means you must pursue her. She isn’t going to show up on your doorstep and say, “here I am!” Although there are situations today in which the woman pursues the man, the man is the one who should lead and make the move to marriage. As the true proverb says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22)
He died for the church.
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
What was the reason for God to enter into this world? Was it to set a good example? No. There was a specific purpose that was set out from eternity past. What was that mission? To purchase for Himself a people, the church, who will be with Him and enjoy Him forever. This cost God his one and only Son, whom he did not spare, but gave him up for us all.
Jesus Christ died for the church, on the cross, purchasing them with His own blood. This was the cost required to satisfy the just wrath and punishment due for our sin. This is how much He loved the church. And as Ephesians 5:25 says, the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Men, are you ready to set your life aside for the benefit of your wife?
He is faithful to the church.
For he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
God never promises something and then changes His mind. Everything that He has said in his written word is true. When He says that he “will never leave you nor forsake you”, He means just that. This is to be a picture of the marriage covenant, where the husband and wife make a commitment that only death can separate.
When two come together for marriage, there is a very common vow which is proclaimed. “Until death do us part.” Can you say this and mean it? What about if something unexpected comes up in marriage? What about adultery, or if an unbelieving spouse leaves? Does this change God’s view on divorce? Would divorce be better than hope for reconciliation?
God’s word is clear that when a man and woman come together in marriage, the two become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). In addition, the bible says that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Yet, there are instances where the New Testament says that divorce is allowed if an unbeliever leaves a believer (1 Corinthians 7:15), or if there is sexual immorality (Matthew 5:32).
My point here is not to address those questions (and would suggest you talk with your pastor for biblical guidance), but to to say this: Jesus will never leave the church, and will be faithful to the end. That is the model for marriage, and that is what a believing husband is called to do in accordance with the word of God.
If this post has made you feel inadequate for marriage, then my job has been completed. The truth is that there is no man that can live up to these standards perfectly. Only Christ can perfectly love His bride, the church. You on the other hand will fail many times. But, your desire should be to pursue your wife in such a way that would point the world to what marriage represents. And that is Christs love for the church.
If you are single, or married, I exhort you to look to Christ alone for your supreme satisfaction, to Christ alone for your strength, and to Christ alone as your motivation in all that you do. Marriage is not the ultimate good that we were made for. God is that supreme treasure we were made for, to delight in, and to enjoy for all eternity.
But, if you receive the high calling of being a husband, I pray that you love the woman God has entrusted to you with in such a way that points to the love of Christ for His bride, the church.