COMMIT TO ONE ANOTHER
AS CHRIST IS COMMITTED TO YOU.
In the name + of Jesus.
When God first established marriage, he said that it was good. He brought together one holy man and one holy woman in a perfect Paradise to be joined as husband and wife. This marriage was assessed by God at the close of his week of creation. “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) It stands to reason that marriage is good. St. Paul said, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) Since marriage is a reflection of the love Christ has for the Church and the love the Church has for Christ, it must be good. And it shows us what God designs marriage to be.
I suppose that we could define marriage in very simple terms—a man and a woman love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Chances are, you've said that to each other a number of times. But it is more than that. St. Paul tells us how God has designed marriage so that it will serve as the highest blessing for both of you.
Although St. Paul begins by addressing wives, we will turn to the husband first. Jim, this is what the Lord says: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...” (Ephesians 5:25) Jesus Christ loved the Church in this way: He gave up everything to have her. The Son of God left the glories of heaven to live as a man and to endure the sorrows and pains of this world. He took up our guilt and gave his life in exchange for ours. So, he suffered for sins he did not commit and paid a debt he did not owe. He assumed into himself all of our wickedness, and then he gave us credit for all of his holiness. He took our hell so that we could have heaven. Jesus did this because he was committed to our good—that he would take away our sins, that he would deliver us from death, and that he would open up heaven to us. This is how Christ showed his commitment to the Church: He loves the Church and died to win her.
Jim, as a veterinarian, you have one simple goal—to care for the health and well-being of each animal that is brought to you. Even if a dog snarls or snaps at you, you still care for and do what is best for that animal. Now, I am not suggesting that Lindsey will snarl or snap at you, but she will sin against you from time to time. For, you are both sinners. So, while marriage is intended to be a Paradise for you, it will not be perfect. Now, just as Christ is committed to the Church, that is how you are to be committed to your bride, Lindsey. Just as Jesus continually forgives and loves, so you get to remain committed to loving your bride. You will continue to serve and love and seek her best, and forgive her even if she does snarl and snap at you. For, she is more precious to you that someone's schnauzer. Commit to one another as Christ is committed to you.
And now, Lindsey, see what St. Paul has written for 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.” (Ephesians 5:22-24) God's word is not telling you to present yourself as a doormat for your husband. And I think you already know that your groom will not treat you that way. No, the comparison is the commitment that the Church has to Christ. Why does the Church submit to Christ? In order to receive good things from him. In fact, the Church receives her glory by submitting to Christ. It is he who has given his name to his Bride, so that you confess to be a Christian. It is he who provides for his Bride's well-being. It is he who protects his Bride from all that would harm or destroy or damn her.
By submitting to your groom, Lindsey, you are accepting his provision, protection, love, and care. The best of his is now yours and exclusively yours. In turn, your submission means that you are committing yourself to love and care for him as the head of the household. Now, the head does not do harm to the rest of his body. What good would that be? Think about it: If you are walking across a room in the dark and stub your toe, your head does not dismiss it and say, “I'll bet that hurt.” No. The whole body aches. And so, Bride and Groom are united in this way. If one hurts, you both hurt. If one rejoices, you both rejoice. Your commitment and devotion to each other serves for the great benefit of each one. In a world that can be unkind and unfair, you each have a spouse who is committed to seeking your good. You both get to support, encourage, and console one another. You both get to exalt one another—just the Church exalts Christ and is exalted by Christ. This is the commitment God intends for husbands and wives. Commit to one another as Christ is committed to you.
And so, today God brings together a man and a woman. Even though it may not seem like it, you are a holy man and a holy woman in God's sight—for you have been “cleansed...by the washing of water with the word, so that (Jesus) might present (you) to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that (you) might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26-27) Today, God joins you in the bond of marriage which he has created to be a blessing for both of you. Today, God brings together one man and one woman to be husband and wife. And though this world is not Paradise, you are the beneficiaries of Christ's perfect, committed love. Your marriage gets to reflect that kind of love in each other. God sees what he has created here, and behold, it is very good.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.