May 5 I Thursday
1 Kings 19-20
“‘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…” —Ephesians 5:31-32
When God instituted marriage, His intention was that it would be a covenant relationship, not a consumer relationship. A consumer attitude says, “You are here for me,” but a covenant attitude says, “I am here for you.” A covenant is an agreement between two parties where both sides are looking out for the best interests of the other party. This involves a deep level of knowing, a true intimacy that comes from mutual submission and sexual union.
For much of Christian history, people have emphasized gender roles from when Paul writes, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). People hear “wives” and “submit” and draw conclusions, but Paul never intended to create a hierarchy in marriage. The submission of a wife to her husband is part of the mutual submission “to one another out of reverence for Christ” that Paul speaks of in all kinds of relationships (Ephesians 5:21). Within marriage, husbands are to give themselves to their wives, and wives to their husbands, to draw out the best in each other. Submission is not a one-way street, but a reciprocal relationship where both spouses put the needs of the other first.
True intimacy in marriage involves a deep knowing of each other. The New King James Version gets it right when it says, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain...” (Genesis 4:1). This is not simply that Adam and Eve lay together and Cain was the consequence. The Hebrew word for “know” is yada, which means “to know properly, to experience, to discover, to give, to have, to take, to be privy to, and to be sure of.”
This is why Scripture says sex only belongs in marriage. The sexual relationship cannot be detached from the real relationship, ordained by God, where husband and wife not only belong to each other but experience a union of heart and soul. Sex is not designed as an appetite to be satisfied, but to give expression to the deep intimacy of the soul. When that is broken, the sexual relationship may be functional, but it will be purely mechanical.
Marriage is designed as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. It is in giving ourselves in surrender to Christ that we find satisfaction, and the same is true in marriage. When we give ourselves to our spouse, honouring them, pleasing them and seeking their wellbeing, we will discover that in the giving is the receiving. It is from this, not determining hierarchies or experiencing momentary pleasures, that a couple discovers true intimacy as God intended.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for the picture marriage paints of the relationship between Christ and the Church. I pray that I may give of myself to my spouse in a manner that honours and pleases You.