Marriage: A Mystery
Words by Carissa Belford; Image by Lauren Fair
Marriage is God’s gift, an opportunity for a man and a woman to display a profound mystery to the world of Christ and His bride, the church. Genesis 1 repeats the phrase “It was good” after each day’s description of God’s creation.Genesis 2:18 is the only place in the story of creation where something “is not good.” It was “not good that the man should be alone.” Though Adam knew and named all the animals in creation, there was not a companion made for him. So God said, “I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18 ESV).
Wives are made to be a “helper-suitable” to their husbands. She is fit, tailor-made just for him. It is not good that he is alone; she is a helper to complete him. This is an especially hard task if we are depending on our own efforts, gifts, abilities or moods to serve another human being. Only God can give us the wisdom and ability to meet our husband’s needs. After almost 15 years of marriage, I am continuously learning that my joy and identity must be in Christ alone, so that I can be the helper Brent needs.
John Piper said, “By creating a person like Adam, yet very unlike Adam, God provided the possibility of a profound unity that otherwise would have been impossible. A different kind of unity is enjoyed by the joining of the diverse counterparts than is enjoyed by joining two things just alike. When we all sing the same melody line, it is called unison, which means ‘one sound.’ But when we unite diverse lines of soprano and alto and tenor and bass, we call it harmony; and everyone who has an ear to hear knows that something deeper in us is touched by great harmony than by mere unison.”
So God made woman for the man. My husband and I have 5 children, and some days it feels like 15! There are times when I am serving my family and serving people in ministry that I have little room or energy or even desire to help Brent in a way that God designed for me. I am not focused on this “great harmony” when I lose sight of the picture that marriage represents. I have to speak truth to myself that serving him and encouraging his leadership is priority. Sometimes in the midst of chaos, I have to intentionally ask him, “How can I help you today?” I fulfill this tailor-made role of helper-suitable when my joy and energy is sourced in Christ.
In Cynthia Heald’s book, Loving Your Husband, she writes:
“Until I am aware that my needs are already met in Christ, I will be motivated by emptiness to meet my need. When by simple faith I accept Christ’s shed blood as full payment for my sins, I am brought into a relationship with an infinite Being of love and purpose who fully satisfies my deepest needs for security and significance. Therefore, I am freed from self-centered preoccupation with my own needs; they are met. It is now possible for me to give out of my fullness, rather than needing to receive from others because of my emptiness.”
In order to be a picture to the world of the beauty of Christ’s relationship to His church, marriage partners must have their identity sourced in Jesus. He gives the grace and wisdom and joy in a relationship to picture His love. This is a great mystery to a world that looks at marriage as a way to get its own needs met.
So, I have to ask myself some questions when my marriage is not reflecting the beauty and harmony of Christ and His church.
- How am I looking for my husband to meet my needs? This answer comes quickly when I observe what makes me angry and respond to him in a way that is harsh and selfish.
- What is my identity in? I identify with my husband and our family, but my identity must be sourced in Christ. I will know when it is not, when the idols of my heart show up for attention and self-promotion.
Colossians 3:1-5, Philippians 2
- How am I a helper-suitable for him? This is accomplished by God’s grace and through His Spirit alone. If there is pride and resentment in my service, than I am not acknowledging all that God has lavished on me when I least deserved it.
“This mystery is profound, and I speak of Christ and His church” (Eph. 5:32).
My husband and I have 5 children, and some days it feels like we have 15!
- How am I looking for my husband to meet my needs? This answer comes quickly when I observe what makes me respond to him in a way that is harsh and selfish (Eph. 4:1-4).
- What is my identity in? I identify with my husband and our family, but my identity must be sourced in Christ. I will know when it is not, when the idols of my heart show up for attention and self-promotion (Col. 3:1-5, Phil. 2).
- How am I a helper-suitable for him? This is accomplished by God’s grace and through His Spirit alone. If there is pride and resentment in my service, than I am not acknowledging all that God has lavished on me when I least deserved it (Romans 5:8).