In Marriage a Reflection of Christ and the Church

goats_butting_heads“No one ever asks how did you two stay together? Everyone always asks how did you two meet?”

That is an insightful comment coming near the end of this likewise insightful article.

A further snippet…

And an enduring marriage lacks an obvious narrative structure. There is no climax, no decisive action. Even if an unfaithful spouse vows never to see the lover again, there may be other potential lovers in the future, and there’s still a fractured marriage to repair. A wedding is a climax; so is a divorce. How do you tell a story that’s all aftermath—all epilogue?

That’s relying upon the classic definition of a comedy as a play that ends with a wedding (cross reference your Riverside Shakespeare, compare and contrast Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. Extra-credit, what is Henry V?)

One of the images of the end of the world in scripture is the marriage feast of the bridegroom and the bride. (Extra credit, what kind of story is being told and why should that effect our demeanor?) The end of the fallen world’s story is a wedding. But what is interesting is that while the church is the bride and Christ the bridegroom (if we wanted to be more exact including the OT better we would say the bridegroom is messiah and the bride the people of God), the interactions of God and his people are described in marriage terms. St. Paul says in Ephesians 5:32 that the marriage, the epilogue, is the image of Christ and the church. There exists in this world already a proleptic, an out of time order, relationship. And the core truth of that relationship is covenant faithfulness.

We naturally ask the sparkly and hot questions – “How did you meet?” – hoping for the cute and emotionally fulfilling “meet cute” story of romantic comedy. You can’t read the biblical stories of meeting at a well (Moses, Jacob, Jesus – Gen 29:1ff, Exo 2:15ff, John 4:5ff) and say that God ignores that, but that is not the question. Jesus turns from the meet cute repartee with the Samaritan woman to the deeper concern – “Go call your husband” (John 4:16). The hour is coming when that relationship between God and his people will be in truth. And the truth is found in faithfulness. We know true love not by pixie dust and cute story but by living the epilogue. The story that survives the fire is that answer to “how did you stay together”? By Grace. Tell me a story full of grace.

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