This weekend I have the privilege of being the celebrant at the wedding of two friends. Over the past two years I was able to watch this seed of romance form and grow. It was fun to be a spectator and to see how God was moving and working through these two wonderful people.
I don’t want to give too much away here in this blog, because what I am writing is basically my homily at the wedding. However, I did want to write about a few things that are on my mind concerning marriage.
One of the central pieces of the Christian faith is the belief that all humanity has been created in the image of God. Unfortunately, sin has marred this image, and has disfigured it to such a degree that death reigns in the place of life.
When we humbly lay our life down before God, and accept the incredible gift of life in Jesus Christ, Salvation is completed, but the re-formation of our image is only beginning. The restoration of our Original Image, is a process. Some traditions call this sanctification. As we grow in our faith, our image is molded more and more into the likeness of Christ. Paul writes in II Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
What does this all have to do with marriage? There are two pieces in marriage, I think. The first has to do with spouses being mutually submissive to one another, placing their own needs second to the needs of the other. You see, marriage is not the completion of a person; it doesn’t restore our Original Image. Completion only comes in Union with Christ. He alone is able to restore our image. If we misplace our idea about what completion is, and who brings it, then we have bought into a lie from the Enemy. Think about the famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire, with Tom Cruise punctuating each word, “You. Complete. Me.” It’s a nice sentiment, but it is utter rubbish. No human being can provide everything that another person is lacking. And the pressure! If my wife looked at me to be her perfect completion, she would have a lifetime of disappointment!
While I can’t be her everything, I can serve her and lovingly point to the One who is her Everything. While I can’t be her completion, I can be her companion and her complement. This is the internal function of the marriage: Husband and Wife, walking together, serving one another, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Together they journey side by side towards their completion in Christ.
The second piece is an external function, bringing the image of God to the world around. God is a God of relationships: God the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit existing perfectly as three-in-one; each distinct, each completely part of the other. So God didn’t just create the idea of a relationship, He is relationship. As bearers of God’s image (as disfigured as that image may be) we too were made to exist in a relationship with one another. The relationship of the Trinity is on display in the image of marriage. As in the Trinity, in the marriage there are distinct personalities that have become one, mutually submissive to one another, working in concert with the other through the Power of the Holy Spirit.
As an image of the Trinity, marriage becomes a sign, proclaiming God’s love to the world. Through the perversion of sin, and the progressive nature of the restoration of our image, some marriages do a much better job at this proclamation than others do. But, we cannot forget that at the heart of marriage itself, God is crying out to His people to return to Him.
Remember the first point, that our completion is only found through Christ in Glory? Well, it is not an individual completion. You and I, and all those that bow down at the Throne of the Triune God, are knit together as one Church, and in our unity with one another, we are made perfect in our unity with Christ. Ultimately, our earthly marriages point to the final marriage of the Bride of Christ, the Church. When the Bride is finally presented to the Bridegroom, Jesus the Messiah, in the Kingdom of Heaven, our Image will have been restored!
So, perhaps at that point, the line from Jerry Maguire may actually work. The Church could say, in all truthfulness to Jesus Christ, “You complete me!” What do you think?