The priesthood in marriage

Its been almost forty days that I’ve been fasting in an attempt to break some of the lethargy and spiritual dryness in my life and to launch out into deep, because hopefully there is a boat load of fish that are waiting to be caught. For those of you not familiar with the reference, one day Jesus is talking to his disciples who happen to be fishermen as they are returning from a fruitless night of work. Just as they get back Jesus tells them to launch out into the deep. Peter one of Jesus’ closest disciples is ready to complain, and in fact does start to gripe, telling Jesus don’t you know that we have tried all night, we’ve exhausted all of our plans, methods, ideas, and strength and have ended up with nothing. He then catches himself and says never the less, Jesus I know you don’t make sense to me, I know that there is nothing in me that can accomplish what you are asking, I’m tired, ready to give up, ready to throw in the towel at least for now, but Jesus you must know something that I don’t know so even though I don’t want to I will obey you. So Peter brings back in his nets, puts back on his attire, readies his crew and his ship and they head out to the deep; that which is beyond their skill and ability and can only be attained by a word from God. It is in their obedience that they find the overflow of blessing, a outpouring or catch so big, it requires another boat to carry the haul. Peter is immediately reminded of his sinfulness, his humanity, his weakness, and he glories in the wisdom and power of Christ and his word.

I don’t know why I wrote that, but I’m sure someone reading is in need of recieving a fresh word from the Lord. In fact I hope to provide you another one that will be relevant to your relationships.

For those of you who are married, who are engaged or even planning to get married I have something to share with you.

Marriages are failing in record numbers, the very institution itself is being reconstructed and corrupted; the cause our failure to understand its purpose. It is not something to be entered into or taken lightly.

Marriage is not just an institution, but it is a sacrament. It is a holy covenant that transcends time, and is in itself a window into the very nature of God. When we in concept or practice remove God out of marriage we rob it of its life; meaning, movement; richness and substance and end up with a dead ceremony; a shriveled tradition, something that can be minimized and perverted to fulfill the whims of our own trivial purposes.

Marriage is one of the greatest witnesses and testimonies we have to the character and mission of God. It is a covenantal sign intrinsic with life and meaning and serves as one of the greatest testaments to the world of God.

I’m afraid that marriage has lost its meaning, its essence. Marriage is not the joining of two partners, who want to receive the full benefits conferred by the government, nor is marriage the attempt to have one’s relationship as socially approved, nor is it simply the concluding act of two persons who love and are committed to each other. Marriage is the divine union by God of a man and a woman who in their act of death to their selves will unite and become one.It is a foreshadowing of the greatest marriage of all Christ and his bride.

One of the casualties in the fall was not just a distorting and a fragmenting of our self concept of being made in the image of God, but a gradual distortion and loss of the holiness and sacredness of marriage. Like most things in creation, the institution of marriage itself communicated something of the nature and mind of God. For it was God’s idea to create not just Adam, but Adam and Eve, so when the scriptures speak of man being made in the image of God, we can conclude at its basic level of meaning that there are qualities in the essence of man that mirror something eternal in God. In the same way we can conclude that since God intended for man and woman to be come one flesh, there is something in the concept of marriage that points to some eternal quality in God; a unity that simultaneously has a distinctness in persons. In other words, the fact that two people are called to become one flesh. Paul even echoes this sentiment in Ephesians, when he talks of this union as being a mystery; but he talks specifically upon the eschatalogical meaning when he says he speaks of Christ and the church.

When our understanding of marriage is connected to its communication of something timeless and other worldy, we discover that  there is by necessity a function in marriage that must access or hint at that otherness.

One of the primarily elements that points to the other is the role of man as the priest of his home. Due to the already lengthy nature of this post I will not go into depth but will cover some central points.

What is meant by the phrase priest of the home? Man’s primary design, his chief cause for existence is to glorify God. The home or family is the primary and central unit for the dissemination and teaching of God. The creation itself dictates that every human be born to a family unit consisting of at least a mother and father.

Before there was the professional class of priest, the man was responsible for the teaching and instruction in the things of God. Even before Adam was married, he was involved in communion with the Father. Adam was aware of his purpose, his mission, and was in constant communication with God. In fact if we look at the Genesis account, we see that the central commandment was given to Adam, before Eve was even brought into Adam’s mind. During the fall we find out that Eve was aware of the prohibition to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; so how was it that she found out. We can be reasonably confident to conclude that Adam had some part in communicating it to her. If Adam’s responsibility was to tend to or govern the garden, the moment Eve was brought to him, she became part of his responsibility. He was to communicate to her the person, work, and word of God.

Let me give you a text from the new Testament, a very common but central text in our understanding not only of marriage, but of the priestly function of the man in marriage.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Whole books have been written on this passage, but I want to emphasize two points here and then a couple of points from the Genesis account. This account makes the assumption of a couple of things, that the man should know Christ, and that he should know his word. The husband is told to imitate Christ, not simply because he is a good example but because the very design of marriage was a prophetic or typological sign to Christ and his bride. 

So the godly marriage or godly man must know Christ, he must know God’s word, and he must demonstrate his knowledge by his sacrificial giving of himself even when it is undeserved and thus display the love of God. The genesis account confirms this point, that a godly husband must be in communion with God, he must understand his role in creation and in the marriage.

So practically speaking what are some implications. I’m hearing a couple of questions already. What if my husband barely knows God, or doesn’t know him at all? What if he refuses to go to church, or refuses to go to other godly men for counsel? Two brief answers, the first is scripture tells us before we are married, not to be unequally yoked, so before hand you should ensure that your future mate is willing to grow, and has exhibited some signs besides simply going to church that he is saved, and willing to grow more Christ like. I know its too late for some, you are already married and your only recourse as a wife not girlfriend, but wife is prayer, and godly submission. Read 1 Peter 3 for more details.

For the men I want to encourage you to go into the deep, not just with God but with your wife. Now in know way or form am I writing from a position where I have accomplished this in a satisfactory manner. I do however know the call of the Lord to me and to men in general, cast out into the deep. The Lord is calling us into a deeper walk with him, because it is only in our deeper relationship that we will have the reserves and strength necessary to love our wives like Christ loves his church.

Join me in this pursuit, I know it is tiring, it is draining, it requires patience, but that is exactly what marriage is a dying for living.

Father I pray for every single and married man that reads this, that you may equip us to minister to you, and to our wives. I pray that you might give us a sacrificial love that is ready to die, it is ready to be humiliated, scoffed at, because their is an undying commitment to your glory. Strengthen us in our weakness, and make straight paths for our feet so that what is lame may not be dislocated but rather healed. We thank you for the washing of us with your word, and that as we our washed,  may we wash our wives. For all the single men, I pray that you might prepare them in thought and action for those you have called to be married. Equip them with a singleness of mind as they seek you before they seek a wife. Be glorified in your church, which is your bride. In the name of Christ we pray.

Amen.

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