In his popular-level book on marriage, Married for God,Christopher Ash relates a story from Britain that illustrates the way that marriage is expressly intended to display the lovingkindness of God.
Some years ago I read of a dispute in Britain between the Foreign Office and the Treasury. The argument was about which British Ambassadors would be provided with a Rolls Royce for their official duties in a foreign capital [sic]. The Treasury unsurprisingly wanted the wonderful cars restricted to a few: perhaps Washington, Moscow, and Paris. The Foreign Office argued for many more and I love the reasoning. Most people in a foreign capital [sic] have never been to Britain, they said. But when they see this magnificent car gliding through the streets with the Union flag on the bonnet, they will say to themselves, “I have not been to Britain. I don’t know much about Britain. But if they make cars like that there [and in those days we did!], then Britain must be a wonderful place.
In a similar way, I like to think that men and women may say to themselves as they watch a Christian marriage: “I have never seen God. Sometimes I wonder, when I look at the world, if God is good, or if there is a God. But if he can make a man and woman love one another like this; if he can make this husband show costly faithfulness through sickness as well as health; if he can give him resoucres to love when frankly there is nothing in it for him; well, then he must be a good God. And if he can five this wife grace to submit so beautifully, with such an attractive gentle spirit under terrible trials, then again he must be a good God. If you are married or preparing for marriage, pray that others might be able to say this of you in the years ahead (Christopher Ash, Married For God:Making Your Marriage the Best It Can Be [Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 2007],96).
Christopher Ash’s analogy points to the way God has designed marriages to radiate His glory and reveal truth about His faithfulness and love. In the human clay of marriage, God has imprinted his heavenly signature, and men and women who are joined by him have the dignified privilege of serving as heavenly ambassadors in a fallen world. Such a living portrayal of God’s love is neither optional or incidental, it is God’s design and his desire for every marriage–Christian or otherwise. Of course, patterned after Jesus Christ and his bride, only those marriages founded on Christ and filled with the Spirit are able to fully reflect his glory (cf. Matt. 7; Eph. 5:18). Nevertheless, every truly Christian marriage should invite others–married couples and interested singles–to experience the increasing depths of heavenly intimacy had in the display of Jesus’ redemptive love portrayed in marriage.
Reading Ash’s account challenges those married or soon to be married to consider how your own marriage discloses or covers Christ and the Church, the love of God, and the blessed hope of union with Christ at the end of the age, to name a few. Marriage was not ultimately created to provide temporal pleasures in a rough-and-tumble world; it was created to picture a greater reality that might draw all the nations into the gracious embrace of the Risen Savior. While providing wonderful pleasures, marriage points to a greater and more lasting union– the marriage feast with the lamb of God (Rev. 19:6-10).
May our marriages grow in the glory of God’s love, and may a skeptical world be awakened by the light of Christ shining forth from our Christ-centered marriages.
Sola Deo Gloria,dss