Marriage is not man-made; neither is it subject to human design. God is the author of marriage, meaning marriage was made in heaven. The greatest marriage of all is that between God the Father and Jesus the Son. Theirs is the supreme love story; one that is eternal and everlasting. God loved Jesus before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24).
The relationship between God and Jesus is the Christian model for the ideal marriage relationship. It gives us the exemplary insight of how husbands and wives should relate to one another. Jesus’ prayer for the Church is also applicable to the husband and wife in the Christian marriage. He says:
“I pray 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 they may be one just as we are one: I in them, and you in me; that they may be made perfect in one, that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26).
Family of God
At the dawn of creation, God said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.”
(Genesis 1:26). The plural community that reflects God’s image is the special community of the husband and the wife. When God created man in his image, he created a marriage; a family relationship: “God created human beings, making them to be like Himself. He created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:27).
The marriage community is a sacred reflection of the family of God. Its identity, life and power come from God. Paul says: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” (Ephesians 3:14-15).
The following aspects of God’s relationship with Jesus is the blueprint of the ideal husband/wife relationship.
Love and Devotion
Jesus says: “The Father loves the Son.” (John 5:20). As the Father loves the Son, so must the husband love his wife. This love must not be hidden but should be openly displayed. Jesus says: “The world must learn that I love the Father.” (John 14:31). The wedding ceremony gives the husband and the wife the imperative from thenceforth to show the world their love for one another.
The days of pretence and coyness are over. No more: “If I call him on the phone he might think I am running after him.” “If I phone to tell her where I am; my friends might get the impression that I am tied to her apron-strings.” Let everyone know you are head-over-heels in love with your spouse. Let your friends know it. Let your parents know it. Let your children know it. The marriage relationship is all about love. Express it to the full.
Husband and wife must be devoted to pleasing one another. Jesus says: “He who sent me is with me. The Father has not left me alone, for I always do those things that please him.” (John 8:29). The husband should be his wife’s faithful companion. So also should the wife remain steadfast beside her husband. Even when they are apart, they must remain mindful of one another. Moreover, they should always do things to please one another.
Harmony and Unity
Husband and wife have different roles and accomplish different functions in marriage. The assignment of God the Father is different from that of God the Son. Jesus says: “My Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again.” (John 10:17). The Son does not begrudge the Father his role. Neither does the Father begrudge the Son. The same should apply between husband and wife. Jesus acknowledges the headship of God. He says: “My Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).
Marriage is the union between husband and wife. Therefore, they are required to live together in unity of mind and purpose. Jesus says: “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30). So should be the husband and the wife. Jesus says: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (John 14:11). This is the most profound expression of intimacy that is possible. Physically, it can only take place between husband and wife. Spiritually, it means the husband and the wife carry one another along wherever they go and in whatever they do.
They should also have all things in common. Jesus says to God: “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.” (John 17:10). There is no private property anymore. No more should one say: “My salary is mine but your salary is ours.”
Communication is an essential element in marriage. There must be no silent treatment between husband and wife. Jesus says: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I know that you always hear me.” (John 11:41-42). Husband and wife must always listen to one another. The one should never be too busy to listen to what the other has to say. They should allow one another to finish their sentences. They should always be sending each other love notes and text-messages.
They must share everything. Jesus says: “The Father loves the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does; and he will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel.” (John 5:20). There must be nothing hidden in the husband/wife relationship. No hidden letters or bank accounts. No holding back. Everything must be laid bare. Each partner must stand naked and unashamed before the other. (Genesis 2:25).
Husband and wife must do everything together. Jesus says: “The Son can do nothing by himself.” (John 5:19). Marriage means that both husband and wife have chosen to lose their independence. They are now a team. Jesus says: “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28).
Seek each other’s counsel in everything. Don’t start a business without consulting your wife or your husband. There is a peculiar wisdom that God has given to your wife. There is a peculiar wisdom that God has given to your husband. One completes the other. One complements the other. There is no competition.
The wife submits to the husband, and the husband loves the wife. Jesus says: “I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10). Submission reinforces love and love reinforces submission. The more the husband loves his wife; the more he expresses love for his wife, the more she will submit to him. Similarly, the more the wife submits to her husband the more he will love her.
Husband and wife esteem one another. Jesus says: “If I honour myself, my honour is nothing. It is my Father who honours me.” (John 8:54). Husband and wife must operate as a kind of mutual admiration society. They must be one another’s major cheerleaders. Where the husband disrespects his wife, the marriage does not last, and where the wife disrespects the husband, the marriage does not last.
Solomon says: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22).