The Marriage Promise A Christian Woman Believes

Marriage is not a cultural phenomenon. It’s a relationship ordained by God and given to humankind for the purpose of unity, completion, and love (to name just a few). It’s also ordained to be the reflection of Jesus and His bride. It’s mentioned in one form or another over six hundred times in the Bible.

Marriage carries with it many great promises including one that often escapes our attention. Especially when our marriages are troubled. The promise I’m referring to is rarely mentioned outright, but it’s implied. Implied in sermons, lessons, and general Christian discussions. And most especially wedding sermons!

The promise goes something like this (I suspect each believer has a nuanced version of it playing in the backs of their minds when the subject of marriage comes up):

Husbands are supposed to be the reflection of Jesus in the marriage.

Wives are supposed to be the reflection of the Church in the marriage.

So let’s start there. If you want to read the passage, I’ve included it below. But it’s a bit of a distraction from our discussion in this post. In the passage we often get hung up on the ‘submit’ word for wives, or the ‘love’ word for husbands. True as they are, they are often misused and taken out of context. They are often used as spiritual clubs to beat men and women over the head with marriage guilt trips.

Let’s not do that today. Instead, let’s dig below all the cliche’s and get to the heart of the word picture here. In this post we’ll start with the husbands.

Husbands are supposed to be the reflection of Jesus in the marriage.

What does this mean? Stripping away all the hype it means simply, ‘Husbands are to look and act like Jesus’. This is the promise a woman enters into marriage believing. That her husband is going to look and act like Jesus toward her. She knows Jesus cherishes her, loves her, forgives her, has compassion for her, meets her needs, knows her deeply, is intimate with her soul, anticipates her emotions, is gentle with her, spends time with her, and generally is always there when she needs Him. She hopes for something similar from her husband.

It’s true that a husband cannot, and should not try, to be all that Jesus is to his wife. But, insofar as he is the reflection of Jesus in the marriage, he is to look and act as much like Jesus as possible. The more a man looks like Jesus toward his wife, the more the ‘promise’ is fulfilled in her heart.

A disconnected man cannot possibly look like Jesus to his wife. He is emotionally and relationally unavailable and Jesus just wasn’t, and isn’t. He’s always available. He reveals intimate and beautiful details about Himself throughout the Bible. He’s connected! To reflect Jesus, we have to connect.

Speaking to men, do you know how Jesus connects with His bride? If not, how will you know how to imitate Him? If so, are you challenging yourself to imitate Him? The Disconnected Man, if you haven’t read my book, is a good place to start creating more intimate relationships. Also, dig into the Bible and see if you can find passages that tell how Jesus treats His bride. Find three verses that clearly tell you how to look and act toward her. (The passage below will give you a good start) Then work at imitating Him, regardless of how anyone responds. You’ll find that your own heart will begin to change and that kind of growth is exciting! Will you give it a try?

Ephesians 5:21-33

“…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

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