In the reading of Scripture, Paul quotes Genesis. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Paul goes back to creation in his exposition of marriage. When Jesus teaches about marriage He goes back to creation. The basis for the teachings on marriage are grounded in the Edenic created order. In the paradise of the Garden, God puts Adam to sleep and takes a rib from his side in order to form his bride– Eve. Now, at this point, you may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know this story. We’ve heard this before. So what?” And I would understand, so I want to point out that this event is gospel. Sleep is often used synonymously with death in Scripture. And so this event with Adam, sleeping, his side, Adam’s awakening, and Eve is nothing less than a foreshadowing of Christ and the Church. Christ dies/sleeps on the cross, where He is pierced in His side, from His side He is poured out, and when He resurrects from the dead, when He wakes from His sleep after three days, the Church begins to form. His Bride is formed from this event. Additionally, John’s visions on Patmos in Revelation teach us that Christ will return at the end of history for His bride and she will be beautiful, and her beauty will be the righteous acts of the saints.
And so we see that marriage is found in the beginning of history in Genesis, it is found in the middle of history with Jesus’ death and resurrection, and it is also found in the end of history in Revelation. Marriage is woven into the tapestry of redemptive history. Marriage is gospel, and the gospel is marriage. And this marriage is part of that gospel. Meaning that the vows about to be taken must abide in that gospel. Jesus will never abandon the church, because he has declared as much. And thus the declaration of fidelity by Mat and Nichole must reflect the same. Put simply, they must be like Jesus, or even more simply, they must be Christians.
Jesus and the Apostle Paul teach us that the covenant of marriage is for life and can only be broken by death, and there are no exceptions. Should your reaction to this be characterized by disparaging and sarcastic thoughts, well, let me be the first to say you’re a fake, a pretender. You’re pretending. But we are not pretending. We are not pretending that this marriage covenant is for life. We actually believe it, not as an ideal, but as a fact. Jesus declares that, “What God has joined together let no man separate.” This is not merely prescriptive. This is descriptive. Meaning Jesus is describing laws of the universe that are as fixed as the laws of physics. And you say, well, what about this, what about that, and what about these circumstances, you don’t understand, you’re not being realistic, all of this under the pretense of a bastardized version of grace, and Jesus says, “From the beginning it was not so.” Jesus has come to restore humanity and to establish His kingdom, and His kingdom is glorious and beautiful. And if the decrees of His kingdom are offensive to your sensibilities, then go build your own. You can pretend to have sovereignty over your own kingdom, but it will be ugly, and will eventually burn. But if you want to be part of a glorious and eternal kingdom, you will abide in Jesus, you will abide and delight in His commandments.
Charge for Mathew
And so Mathew, I charge you first because God created Adam first to be the guardian and protector of his wife, and because you as the husband are to be the head of Nichole as Jesus is the head of the Church. Therefore, love Nichole as Jesus has loved you and gave his life for you. Give your life sacrificially to her. Die to yourself. Die to every aspect of you that wants to remain by itself. In marriage you are one, and the Mathew Szula that walked in here is not going to be the same Mathew Szula that will walk out.
Sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the Word. Lead her in feasting on the Word of God. Lead her by your example. Do the will of your Father in heaven, as Jesus’ very sustenance was not merely temporal food, but His food was doing the will of His Father. Live with Nichole in an understanding way, and show her honor, so that your prayers will not be hindered. Mathew, everyone here knows that you are a man’s man. You were the star middle linebacker in college, you are decisive in your deliberation, you eat bacon, drink beer, and I’ve never seen you wear skinny jeans. So, I want to stress the point that Peter makes to husbands – and that is to be gentle with their wives. To cater to that feminine dimension which Nichole will be joining to you. By doing this you will be reflecting the image of God, for Genesis says that God created man in His image – male and female he created them. So, be steadfast in your example, your leadership, your faithfulness, your sacrifices, and your gentleness. By doing this you will love Nichole, just as Christ love the Church.
Charge for Nichole
Nichole, I charge you second because we save the best for last. In a sense this true, I charge you second because God created Eve second from Adam as the culmination of creation. But Eve was not taken from the feet of Adam to be his slave, nor from his head to be his ruler, but from his side to be his companion. However, I am not charging you as a daughter of Eve, but as a daughter of the Church, which Paul says in Galatians, is the mother of us all. You are not to be like your mother Eve, but you are to be like your mother the Church. You are to submit to Mathew, as the Church is to submit to the Lord. Jesus is the head of the Church, and Mathew in marriage is the head of Nichole. The thing that is difficult with submission, is that it’s often not submission, if it’s what you want to do anyway. And so you submit in the things that you may not want to, not because you’re trusting Mat, but because you’re trusting the Lord, that His words are true and beneficial and life giving. Sarah submitted to Abraham when Abraham did some bonehead things, and yet the Lord protected her. In fact, Peter says, “You are her daughter if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” And Peter also says that by your respect for Mat and pure conduct, you will win him over when he’s not being obedient to the word. A gentle and quiet spirit is a winsome and beautiful thing. Everyone here can see that you are beautiful, but I exhort you to be intentional about evidencing Biblical beauty to Mathew. Strive for this beauty because it is precious in the sight of our Father.
So, be steadfast in your example, your submission, your sanctification, and your faithfulness, by doing this you will be a good wife to Mathew and you will properly display the beauty and glory of being a daughter of Sarah, a daughter of the Church, and a daughter of your Father in Heaven.
Charge for Both
I charge you both to keep the Lord as your primary love. C. S. Lewis once said that when first things are put first, second things are not suppressed, but increased. This means that loving God will not take away your love from each other, but will only increase it. And the less you love God, the less you will love each other. He will give you the strength to keep the commitment you’re about to make. So, love God like crazy, and love each other like crazy. Love the Lord so that other people will want it. Love each other so that your marriage will cause an unbelieving and cynical world to cover their mouths, and like Job say, I have spoken too soon. Make your marriage appealing to the world. In this, you will be making the gospel appealing to the world.