Marriage and the Nature of God

by Tom Ackerman , Christian Examiner Contributor |

In what way does marriage reflect the nature of God?

One of the most amazing and beautiful facts about the union of the woman and the man is that marriage portrays the Holy Trinity.  I think this is a part of why marriage leads some to faith; it reflects the unity, the love, and the pillar of authority which are all revealed in the Trinity. Others will see our unity and love, and will know Christ.

In Holy Scripture, much of this truth is found between John 14 and 17, but you can find it elsewhere in John's Gospel and throughout the New Testament. Since Ephesians 5 teaches that man and wife are like Christ and the Church, and in John's Gospel Jesus teaches that Father and Son reflect Christ and the Church, we can see that the relationship between Father and Son sets a pattern for the relationship between Christ and the Church, which sets a pattern for husbands and wives. The relationships in the Godhead cascade down to us, in a life giving way, and full of grace for our lives. True relationship comes from the Godhead, to the Church, to marriage.

The husband portrays God the Father, in part through his headship over his wife, and through pouring out his life to his beloved.  This, just as the Father commands the Son, and also shares His glory with the Son, and I would say shares His life essence with the Son. The man shares all that he has with his helpmate. The wife reflects God the Son, through her humility, her gentleness, her obedience to her husband. Just as from the life-giving unity of Father and Son springs the Holy Spirit, so from that life-giving unity of man and wife springs the seed: their children. Just as the will of the Father passes through the Son and the Spirit, so the will of the man is done by his wife and then the children. It is interesting that the Holy Spirit is there to guide the Church forward in truth through the ages; our children are the expression of our truth far into the future.

Marriage reflects the nature of God also in the unity that is to exist. Just as Father, Son, and Spirit are one, they share love, they share glory—the Father glorifying the Son, the Son glorifying the Father—so man, wife and children share in love, and in honoring each other, each in a unique way. The wife honors her husband as her leader and her Christ figure; the husband honors his wife as the weaker vessel, praising her for her womanly virtue and spiritual beauty. Just as people can see God's love and character in the Church, when we are faithful, they can also see it in the home. When a home is faithful to God, the love, unity, and the pillar of authority of the Blessed Trinity are clearly seen.

We truly become one in marriage, but not in a hammered flat kind of way; we are one through the channel of right relationships, patterns we learn from the character of God. We become one both through headship and through the interpersonal sharing of love. This pattern of relationships, with both vertical and horizontal pillars, extends far beyond marriage. It extends to all human relationships. In fact, within some of the same passages which speak of the marriage bond, we also find descriptions of several other relationships that necessitate submission to the head above us. Each is unique, but each follow a pattern we see in the Trinity. There is a tendency in human nature, especially when things are hard and the world is looking dark, to wish we could leap out of our flesh and melt into some ocean of love out there. We start to see the problems of the world, the problems of interpersonal living, as being rooted in the flesh, in our physical separation from each other. We see that separation as almost the problem of sin, and wish to leap out of our skin, where we can just be one with everyone else. We want to lose ourselves, not just our flesh, but our distinct selves. Of course this attitude constitutes dualism, which is an error, and is rooted in a misunderstanding of the creation and of sin. However, becoming anxious over our physical separation seems to be a natural instinct; we want to get out of the apparent prison of flesh, and lose ourselves completely.

This desire, this understanding, this dualism, is wrong. The Christian understands the problem rightly, at least if we know our Scripture and are growing in our faith. We do not need to leap out of our flesh to become one with everybody. Rather, we become one through right relationships. We don't need an ocean of love to melt into and disappear. We have the character of the Holy Trinity, and this is where we truly have happiness and peace—happiness in our home life, and in all other personal connections we have. We become one with others through the relationships of the Holy Trinity. There is great good for the Church if we meditate on God's character, if we meditate on how Father, Son, and Spirit love one another. Study this subject from Scripture and practice it in the home. You will see God's touch upon this world, and the Trinity alive in marriage.

– Tom Ackerman earned a BA in Writing from St. Edward's University. He lived overseas for twelve years, and came to faith at age 31 in Krakow, Poland. He's since been sharing the Gospel, and held many jobs, including teacher, travel writer, and street performer.

He is the author of the new book, Get Married and Save the World, a doctrinal and practical guide to the main elements of the Christian marriage union. It is also a call to Christians to live fully in the Holy Spirit and reject the flesh, in our families and our homes. The book will appeal to readers who know the Church has turned away from God's Word and is soaking in carnal goals. Its readers should take away a broad and deep understanding of marriage and be confident in their own marriages to bless the world.