Brian and Christie

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Weddings are at the heart of the creation mandate, and weddings are a glorious exhibition of the new creation mandate as well. They form a parallelism—divine goodness for the earth, as well as a divine proclamation of heavenly realities.

When God first created the world, everything was good. When our rebellion against Him plunged us into darkness, that goodness remained—but now in a vandalized state. When Christ came, His purpose was to restore everything and then some. Paul teaches us in Romans that the re-creative work of the second Adam far surpassed the destructive work of the first Adam (Rom. 5:15). God’s purpose was to reset the bone in such a way as to be much stronger when the healing was done.

This means that when we seek to learn how to live out the gospel in our marriages, we have to learn to think at three levels. We must first recognize the original creational realities. Second, we must understand the dislocating nature of sin. And third, we must apply the death and resurrection of Jesus to our marriages. What does this mean?

God created a solitary man, and then He created the woman as a complement to him. The man was not created for the woman, Paul tells us, but rather the woman for the man (1 Cor. 11:8-9). This is the creational orientation, the first level. The man was created to tend the Garden, and the woman was created to tend the man. This explains the differing orientations that men and women have, which explains lots of things. How often, when a man is going out the door, does his wife button his top button? Well, as often as it is unbuttoned, which is more often than it ought to be. How often, when a woman is going out the door, does her husband button her top button? Never is too strong a word, but it comes close.

So the man tends his vocation, the woman tends her man. We can see this reality in novels written by a man for men and novels written by a woman for women. In the man’s novel, the mission is the plot, and the woman enters the story to help out with the mission. In the woman’s novel, the relationship between the man and the woman is the plot.

But sin disrupted this tendency, causing the men and women to become caricatures or parodies of this healthy creational impulse. This is the second level. The man was created to go out in the world, but his temptation is now to go out too far, to go out and get distracted, to go out and not come back. The woman was created to focus on him, and to minister to him, and her temptation is now to control him completely. This is the meaning of the curse that the Lord spoke to Eve, when He said that her desire would be for her husband (Gen. 3:16). This construction is used only one other time in the Bible, in the next chapter (Gen. 4:7), when God tells Cain that sin desires to have mastery over him. This is a desire for control.

The man is now centrifugal force, and the woman is gravity. The man is a rocket and the woman is the earth. The sinful tendency of men is toward complete escape. The sinful tendency of women is toward complete control. You can see this, again, by comparing what men write with what women write. Compare men’s magazines to women’s magazines. Men’s magazines are full of distractions, they are full of stuff. Men like to be distracted by hunting, by gadgets, by sex, by ideas, by sports, by finances, by work, and so forth. Escape. Women’s magazines are full of different topics, sure, but they are all directed toward the arduous task of keeping that man from getting away. Control. Whether the article is about dieting, or sexual performance, or cooking, or clothing, the point is always the same. A man sins by sinning away from her. A woman sins by sinning toward him.

We want to understand our temptations, not that we may justify them, but rather so that we might overcome them in the grace of Jesus Christ. This is the third level. Jesus Christ, our bridegroom, did not escape. He was born of a woman, born under the law, so that He might die for the sins of His people. He came to us, He came near. And the Church of Christ, His bride, does not seek to control Him, but rather serves Him in faithful worship.

So this is what the gospel does for our marriages. It underlines our basic creational tasks, it mortifies our desires to abuse those creational tendencies, and it makes our impulses far more glorious than they otherwise would have been. The man goes away to sacrifice himself for his wife and family, and he comes home in order to imitate the way of Jesus in the home. He provides and protects. The wife knows that he is doing this, and so she honors him for it. In that honor, she takes what he gives her, and she glorifies it.

Brian, God has gifted you with a quick mind, and with healthy interests. Because of this, your temptation will not be to get distracted by some dumb or trivial thing, but rather by some lofty thing—by a great theological concept or by a noble cause, or by some aspect of ministry. You are already being used in the work of the kingdom, and this is all to the good. But you must never forget that your first earthly priority, in all your earthly labors, is now standing just to your left. The man who loves his wife, Paul says, loves himself. When a man remembers his wife, and ministers to her, he does not rob his other responsibilities. Rather, his ability to meet those other responsibilities multiplies. Brian, here is a great secret. Men know how to add, but women know how to multiply. Everything you give to Christie in the name of Jesus will be multiplied, and will overflow.

Christie, in order for this to work as God designed it, Brian must bring it to you. We live in a sinful world, but the only controls that are necessary are those provided by the vows that you both will be taking in a few moments. Within the context of those vows, honor and respect Brian as he goes out, because you know that—because he loves you—he will bring back something for you to glorify. He can’t glorify it—he can only carry it back to you. When he brings it home to you, your responsibility for multiplication and glorification begins. The more you give yourself to this mysterious task—and it is mysterious; not a man in here understands it—the more he will carry home in fascinated wonder and expectation.

It is a sense of expectation we all share. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.



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