~ by Randy Bushey
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31,32).
The most important apostolic explanation of marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33) is a masterpiece of verbal artistry.
Paul is explaining that the supreme model for the marital union is the eternal bond of Christ and His bride, the church. But as you read the concluding verses in the chapter, it’s sometimes difficult to know whether he is specifically addressing human marriage (man-woman) or spiritual marriage (Christ-church).
The interplay is clearly intentional.
And highly creative.
Paul adroitly moves from the physical (human “one-fleshness”) to the spiritual (the church’s eternal union with Christ), each image serving to imaginatively elucidate the other.
And in verse 31, the 3-word transitional phrase “for this reason” indicates a conclusion to rationally follow what has just been asserted.
The Apostle reaches back to the seminal statement by the Lord as He ordained marriage in the Garden (Genesis 2:24). Here, the “for this reason” clause concludes the intimacy, exclusivity, priority and interdependence of biblical marriage: one woman, one man, for life.
And the reason given for the “leaving and cleaving” in beginning a new family unit, is because the woman was created from the body of the man.
But in Ephesians 5, although the conclusion after “for this reason” is the same, the prior assertion is radically different than in the Genesis 2 account.
Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul uses marriage as an analogy of the Gospel: the sacrificial love of Christ for His church as He sanctifies, and feeds and cares for her is demonstrated in marriage – a living parable.
Because of how the Lord Jesus cares for each of us as members of His Body, His Bride, for this reason we have the opportunity and privilege – the duty – to live out the Gospel and thereby reflect glory of God in this dark world.
So what is the glory of God?
It is a difficult to define, an elusive concept to wrap our minds around.
In his vision of the throne of God 700 years before the time of Christ, the prophet Isaiah heard the antiphonal response of the seraphim: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3).
Clearly an essential connection exists between God being holy, and therefore projecting glory.
If holy is what God is, then John Piper concludes glory is the “manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going public of his holiness. It is the way he puts his holiness on display for people to apprehend.”
God’s glory is intrinsic and inherent to His Being.
His glory is unlimited. And it is bullet-proof; nothing can diminish or dim the radiance of it.
As humans, we too project glory.
But we do not posses intrinsic glory. Ours is a reflected glory.
We were created in God’s image and consequently have the privilege, the opportunity, and the duty to mirror His glory.
Piper again: “We were made to be prisms refracting the light of God’s glory into all of life.”
Because the over-arching objective of the evil one is to garble God’s glory – something he cannot do – he seeks to damage, distort, and destroy Christ’s reflected glory in us.
In our lives, in our churches.
And in our marriages.
Takeaway: For many reasons, next to our decision to follow Christ, our decision to marry – for those of us entering into matrimony – is the most important commitment we will ever make.
And for this reason, the gravity of the covenant proclaimed before Almighty God carries additional consequence because of the calling on us to be a living parable; two people committed to holiness, and thereby together reflecting the glory of God in our dismal world.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.