Intimate Allies (pt. 4): A Biblical Theology of Marriage

Intimate Allies: A Biblical Theology of Marriage

The Bible speaks of marriage from Genesis 1 to the end of the book of Revelation… We will conclude our meditation on the Bible’s vision of marriage by exploring God’s design for marriage and sexuality as it unfolds in the narrative of Scriptures.  As we do this, we will have a glimpse at an incredible mystery.  Our marriage reflects another marriage.  God speaks of our relationship with him as a marriage.  It is amazing, but our relationship with God is so intimate that it can be understood only in light of the passion that is to be shared within a marriage union (Dan Allender and Tremper Longman, Intimate Allies [Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1995],348-49).

Concluding their book on marriage, Tremper Longman and Dan Allender, sweep across the Scriptures considering the height, depth, breadth, and length of God’s love for his covenantal people.  They begin with the original creation of marriage in Genesis 1-2 and its subsequent Fall (Gen. 3).  Cast out of the Garden, they consider marriage in the OT, particularly in the Song of Solomon and the book of Hosea.  Moving into the NT, they conclude their biblical survey in Revelation 19:6-10, where God’s eternal and eschatological purposes for marriage are seen, and they conclude with culmination of all things in the summation of every marriage in Christ (cf. Luke 20:27ff).  Though brief and constrained to edit many important BT aspects of marriage, they give a helpful overview of the important turning points of marriage in the Bible.  They write:

Marriage as an institution, if not a particular relationship, can now give us a taste of heavenly realities.  It is a lens that enables us to peer into our depraved demands and into our anticipated full redemption when we are drawn into the wonder of the marraige ceremony of the Lamb.  Each moment of marriage is an anticipation of that moment when we will walk down the aisle to the Lamb’s waiting embrace.  It is also the anticipation of the day when we will ejoy the most profound, the most intimate, the most sensual (remember we will have heavenly bodies), the ultimately satisfying of relationships.  Our union with God will ignite and solidify our relationships with one another.  Truly, male and female will be one flesh again (361-62).

The Scriptures do paint a powerful portrait of God’s love for his redeemed, and they should give us pause to consider that love and the way in which our own marriages embrace and embody that heavenly reality.  Christ and his death on the cross has everything to do the day-to-day rigors of marriage.  Marital spats should be reoriented by the grace demonstrated on the cross, just as marital bonds should be strengthened by the unrequited love of God’s covenantal commitment.  It is a wonderful thing that the heavenly marriage of Christ and his church beckons us to press on toward that eternal union.  Our routine relationships are dignified by this glorious truth.  As Longman and Allender remind us, “our marriage[s] reflect another marriage,” and thus our lives have the potential to receive and reflect the glory and grace of the love of Christ.  This is good news that should strengthen our marriages.

May we continue to grow in grace and in truth in the love that is captured in the biblical theological vision of marriage culminated in Christ and the church.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

 

Theo-logy: Let us press on to know and love the Lord

When you put the emphasis on the wrong syllable, theology turns from the sanctifying, edifying, doxological study of the Trinitarian God to the self-absorbed, glory-seeking, academic discipline of God-study.  For in the compound word, theos and logos supply two possible centers of focusAttention to the former is good and right because it highlights and exalts God in all his manifold perfections; fixation on the latter, though, runs the risk of replacing the proper object of veneration with man’s ability to be scholastic, creative, and clever.   In this, the study of God becomes idolatry with biblical language. Only the first kind of study abides in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure lovely, and admirable, think about such things.” The second kind of theology corresponds to the spirit of this age, even if its gets the creedal formulations right, because its affections are heterodox.

In short, theology that does not have white-hot worship as its end, covenantal relationship as its context, and love as its fuel will fail in the end.   Pastors, theologians, and seminarians have the occcupational hazard of studying God cold, dry, and hard.  Such cannot be the way to pursue a knowledge of God.  For knowledge must be accompanied by love (1 Cor. 8:1), or with increased knowledge will come greater judgment.  

Consider the words of John Piper on knowing God in the book of Hosea, as he writes on the relationship between sexual purity and knowledge of God:

I think it is virtually impossible to read this (Hos. 2:14-16, 19-20) and then honestly say that knowing God, as God intends to be known by his people in the new covenant, simply means mental awareness or understanding or acquaintance with God.  Not in a million years is that what “knowing God” means hereThis is the knowing of a lover, not a scholar.  A scholar can be a lover.  But a scholar–or a pastor–doesn’t know God until he is a lover.  You can know about God by research; but until the researcher is ravished by what he sees, he doesn’t know God for who he really is.  And that is one great reason why many pastors can become so impure.  They don’t know God–the true, massive, glorious, gracious biblical God.  The humble intimacy and brokenhearted ecstasy–giving fire to the facts–is not there (John Piper, “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by Justin Taylor and John Piper [2005], 32).

Father in heaven, make us lovers, not just scholars.  Give fire to the facts.  Help all those who study your Word, become more deeply in love and loving.  Keep your pastors pure by giving them the gift of yourself.  And may we who pursue academic studies of You never settle for erudite answers only; may we always press on to know you–inquisitively, innocently, intensely, and intimately (Hosea 6:3).