_____ and ______, today is a day of joy and celebration. But it is also a day of very serious consequences. What you are about to seal with your vows and with your rings is a lifetime commitment. But not only is it a commitment to one another, but it is a commitment to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone and everyone who sees the two of you. So I would like to spend a little time reminding you, and everyone here, just how special God’s gift of marriage is between one man and one woman.
At the very beginning of Scripture, Genesis reveals to us that God is a creator, and that He is good. The peak of God’s created order was humanity—a creature made in God’s own image, meant to guard and tend to His Creation. But when God formed Adam, (____ that would be you!), though he was made good, and in God’s own image, there was something lacking. What was lacking was a wife. You see, because Adam was made in God’s own image, Adam was made for relationship, companionship, and fellowship because God is these in the trinity. In short, in order for Adam to reflect God’s character of love he had to have a companion. So God formed for him Eve.
But what did it mean for God to make Eve for Adam? It means that God hand crafted a woman who would stand beside Adam as one equally reflecting God’s image, but more than that, it meant that God knew exactly what Adam needed, and He would meet that need through that woman. And Genesis then states that God brought Adam and Eve together as the first marriage, and makes this statement about marriage: For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
What happened in the Garden of Eden is the foundation for how marriage is handled in the rest of the Scriptures. But, after Jesus Christ came, gave his life for the world, and rose again and gave the hope of a new life to all who believe in Him, Paul then saw just how similarly marriage is a picture of salvation itself. So I would like to read another passage that will then be my final reminder and charge to the two of you.
“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.”
(Ephesians 5:22–33 ESV)
_____ and ____, I love the both of you very much, and enjoy knowing that I can call the both of you my friends, but I am not going to pull any punches. I want you to know that this passage gives a very clear command for how you are to interact with one another as a couple. You are supposed to demonstrate to the world the mystery of Jesus Christ himself, and how He interacts with the Church.
Firstly, there is the charge to you, _____, to submit to______. We have talked about this and how your submission to him is out of love and respect for him. It might look absolutely insane to some that you would give up some dreams, goals, hopes, and plans because of ____. But as you do this, you are submitting to him knowing that he loves you, and also that he has a desire for your best in mind. The closer you grow to him, the more you will understand him and his decisions.
______, the command to you is daunting. In fact, I would consider it the most daunting of any command in Scripture. You are to love her as sacrificially and completely as Jesus Christ loves the Church. Jesus Christ gave up his own comfort in heaven, lived on earth where he had to endure the normal challenges of a human, and then He endured Hell—literally endure Hell as he was on the Cross bearing the sins of the world. But why did he do this? He did this in order that people may be saved from their sins. To give life! He did this out of perfect love and a desire for God to be glorified through the salvation of the world.
_____, your love is to be this complete and this sacrificial. You are called to lay aside personal gain, comfort, and peace in order to help ______ grow into the woman and the wife that God desires. As you do this, this will demonstrate to her that her submission is not in vain. In fact, it will validate her submission, because has she submits herself to you, and you sacrificially love her, you two will grow closer to each other and will reflect the beauty of salvation more clearly. And this is what I charge you to do.