Just wrapped up premarital counseling with a couple getting married this fall. I’ve had the privilege of sitting with hundreds of couples over the years as they prepare for marriage.
One thing I’ve been placing more emphasis on is the need to recognize how God wants to use husbands and wives as instruments of positive change in their mate’s life. No one will have closer access to your mate than you.
I am trying to get husbands and wives to embrace this reality and to leverage closeness and access to each other for ongoing transformation into the likeness of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18).
Christlikeness is what God is producing in those who belong to Him — a restoration to the glory of the image of God from which we have fallen (Genesis 1:26-27; Romans 3:23; 8:29). Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25).
When God ordained marriage it was for completion of one individual with another. Something was missing. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” So God said, “I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18). “Helper” and “suitable” are not demeaning terms but beautiful descriptions pointing to the complementary way a woman brings completeness to a man.
The woman was created for the man (I Corinthians 11:9).
She filled up what was missing. None of this implies inferiority for she too is made in the image of God and shares a call to co-regency with the man (Genesis 1:28).
“Woman is the glory of man” (I Corinthians 11:7).
Her union with man fills up what is lacking. She is a “helper” or a “support to him” but this relationship and role does not imply inferiority (see: Galatians 3:28).
Marriage is made up of two unique individuals and loss of uniqueness in either could hurt the purpose of their companionship and completion.
But emphasis on oneness or male leadership should never lead to the disappearance of a woman into the dominance of the man. Nor should male passivity be permitted behind the dominance of the woman. Either approach would violate the original purpose of a complimentary completion. It’s also significant that the man is the one given primary responsibility to forge the bond with his wife (Genesis 2:24).
Marriage is a bonding of two individual identities into one new relationship. Like the different colors of sand in a sand ceremony, each one brings individual significance, gifts and beauty to the relationship of marriage. Each one is meant to be God’s instrument of ongoing transformation in the life of the other?
Can it work?
Husbands and wives must be secure in their love for each other for this plan to work. When I am convinced that my wife genuinely desires what is best for me according to God’s will, I am secure enough to allow her to speak into my life.
Where there is rivalry and competition for control and superiority, there are deeper spiritual issues of immaturity to be addressed. Only as we walk by the Spirit with the mind of Christ can we leverage the closeness for ongoing transformation of our lives through marriage (Galatians 5:13-26; Philippians 2:3-10).
Question for discussion: How have you seen this work in your marriage?
Audio message: When Two Become One