“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” –Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV

With these illuminating, but curious words, the Apostle Paul tells us that marriage has an extremely intimate place in God’s heart and divine plan. As esteem for marriage declines in our culture, it is important that all citizens fully appreciate just how large and powerful marriage is. Christians must also appreciate how profound marriage is in God’s own story. In fact, Paul is telling us that marriage is central to the Gospel itself.

Some might consider this an overstatement. It is not.

In this immensely powerful verse, Paul is quoting Genesis 2:24 where God declares His divine intention for humanity and marriage. The first thing God does with the first two humans, described both in Genesis 1:27-28 and Genesis 2:23-24, is creates them male and female as a complement and completion of each other. He then joins them together as husband and wife.

Get that. The first thing Adam and Eve are in God’s story is they both uniquely bear God’s image and likeness as human male and female. The second thing is that after their creation,  before they become anything else, they are made husband and wife.

The first chapter of Genesis tells us,

“In the image of God He created them, male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…’”

In blessing Adam and Eve, God performed their wedding and called them to live as husband and wife, be fruitful, start a family, fill the earth, and engage all of creation.

In the second chapter of Genesis, we hear Adam exclaiming about the wonder of the gift of woman,

“This at last is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman…”

And then God says what Paul quotes in Ephesians 5.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Here is our takeaway: Marriage is central to God’s plan for humanity and His divine purposes.

Paul adds even more profound depth to our understanding of marriage. He tells us directly that what God created in marriage from the start for man and woman is also intimately and mysteriously related to the beautiful truth of Christ and His Church, for he states,

“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

The relationship between Christ and His redeemed church is the story of the Gospel itself, is it not? It is also a marriage.

This marital connection between Christ and His church is a profound mystery we are told. We do not know fully how this is true, but we do know with total confidence that it is true. Why? Because scripture tells us so!

In fact, marriage is central to the whole story that God is telling all of us through scripture from the first page in Genesis to the last in Revelation.

  • Marriage is there, central and foundational in His creation of humanity.
  • Marriage is there throughout the Old Testament prophets who tell us of God pursuing His notoriously unfaithful bride. Ezekiel 16 is just one spectacular example.
  • Right in the middle of the bible is Song of Songs which speaks beautifully of the physical love between husband and wife, serving also as a compelling allegory of the marital relationship with Christ and His Church and God’s love for His people.
  • Jesus Himself tells us He has come from the Father as the Bridegroom, seeking His beloved Bride.
  • Paul tells us in the epistles of the mysterious similarities between husband and wife and Christ and His Church.
  • And finally, Revelation closes scripture in the last pages with the glorious Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the climax that the whole biblical story has been moving toward and what the rest of eternity will be about.

In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:30 that in heaven, humans will neither marry or be given in marriage. Why? Because marriage will be done away with? Not at all.

It is because God’s vision for marriage is fully fulfilled in the Divine Wedding which is what heaven itself is. Our marriages have been an imperfect signpost pointing to this glorious nuptial truth of Christ and His Church.

It is unavoidable and unmistakable: Marriage is a beautiful thread running consistently and significantly through God’s divine narrative from the first page to the last, explaining what He is and has been up to since the beginning of time. In fact, it is true that one cannot really tell God’s story of His divine plan for humanity and the Gospel itself without speaking deeply and intimately of marriage.

Marriage does matter, more than we can ever know.


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