Marriage is a picture of Messiah and Bride. Also, family is a picture of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Are these merely two arbitrary comparisons? You can be sure they are not. Various passages in John's Gospel unlock the connection between God's love within the Trinity, and our love in marriage. You see, these passages show how the love between Father and Son models the love between Son and Church. How the headship of Father over Son models the headship of Christ over Church. How the sharing of love from Father to Son models the sharing of love from Son to Church. Once we look into these amazing passages, the echo of the Trinity that marriage is becomes less of a mere hypothesis and more of a bold scriptural truth. Patterns within the Trinity reveal patterns between Jesus and His people, which reveal the patterns of marriage. And all of these are life giving! Divine truth from eternity is cascading down to us in our weddings. Although there are many such verses that show the connections, I find most of them between John 14 and 17.
"At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:20-21)
Here we see the Nazarene teach that the union He has with the Father is compared to the union He has with His people. He also expresses His shared love and headship in the Church's need to keep His commandments. The love He receives from the Father is also received by His brethren.
"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:9-10)
Again we see nearly the same. The Father's love cascades down to the Son and from the Son to the Church. His obedience to the Father is echoed by the brethren's obedience to Him, as is the abiding unity shared by all.
"Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.
"For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. (John 17:7-8)
The truth and the words of the Father come down in like manner; from Father to Son then from Son to Church. The Church is filled with the precious knowledge that the Son came forth from the Father. The ones receiving this truth are the believing ones.
"...that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
"And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
"I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:21-23)
These are three breathtaking verses. Jesus again reveals the pattern of one abiding in another. The interpenetration of Father and Son is followed with the Church joining in with that divine unity. Amazingly, this is also a cause of the world's belief. The structure and the union and the sharing of love will reveal to this world that Jesus comes from God. He then restates the elements of this union, revealing that the glory comes from Father to Son and like truth and love, is shared from Son to His Bride the Church. Love, truth, glory pour down. The Son is in the Bride, the Father is in the Son, and the Bride is made perfect through this unity. The love originating in the Father is shared through all. Unity is known by all.
This is why we cannot view the connection between marriage and the Trinity as a mere scholastic idea. The husband as picture of Christ is also a picture of the Father. The wife as a picture of the Church is also a picture of the Son. More powerfully, this is why we cannot view the biblical comparison of marriage to Christ and the Church as a simple example. It IS an example. But it is more. Our union is filled with God's grace, and it will lead others to know Jesus Christ and know salvation. Marriage is not just a civil affair. It is an instrument of grace. It is powered by the Spirit of God. It makes Christ known. It helps people believe.
That's essential to remember if we ever ask ourselves – "are ALL the elements of marriage truly important?" Is becoming one flesh any more than practicality, God giving us a useful relationship which benefits society? Of course, each element is essential, both because each one is instructed in Scripture, and because each element is what reveals God and the Savior to the world. Two buddies united for life does not accomplish this. The headship of the man and the submission of the wife does. Cold and loveless people do not accomplish this either. Ones who honor and love each other do. Childless and quiet homes do not do this. Ones that are fruitful and bring the life and energy of children do. Marriages ripped apart by divorce don't do this. Ones that endure for life do. Each element of marriage reveals God's love and His truth. The horizontal field of mutual love. The vertical tower of authority. The life that is brought forth miraculously from that union. Marriages reveal God. Marriages will lead souls to Christ.
– 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.