“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.”[e]
This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:31 & 32
Marriage is kind of a hot topic in this day & age, even controversial, you might say! On one hand, we have the 'bible-thumpers' clamoring for the Federal Government to save the holy State marriage license from the limp-wristed infidels, while on the other end of the spectrum, we have those who are totally disenchanted with the whole idea & just want to live together in various forms of disrepair & disarray. In between the two extremes are those who know enough not to let the State or Federal Government into the marriage bed!
The apostle Paul recognized that the institution of marriage was not just a comfortable institution arranged for the convenience of cohabitation, or just so that a man & woman could use their members in the way the Creator intended, yet without sin! I'm sure that many or most Jews ( Hebrews ) recognized that the institution was formed, as certain other institutions, to signify a greater spiritual truth, that truth being the union, the bond that was & is formed through covenant between Christ & the Church. Before we get too far into the Theology of Marriage, let us backtrack a bit, to present some reasons that even some Christians seem to have missed the point here!
In the Trinitarian view, though it may vary somewhat in its adherents, there is still somewhat of a separation in what is termed 'the God-head'; this is usually referred to as 'Father, Son & Holy Spirit, or Jehovah ( Yahweh ), Jesus ( the Christ ) & the Spirit of Both. Setting aside discussion of 'the Holy Spirit' for now, let's focus on the Father & the Son, or as most Christians commonly refer to them, 'God & Jesus'. Please don't get me wrong, any Christian worth their salt will readily acknowledge that these Two are One & the same, although They're Two separate Persons. Not confusing at all, right?! ( I'm not sarcastic at all, either! ) So anyway, based upon this kind of reasoning, some Christians have built a theology around the Creator of the Universe, saying that while God the Father is married to national Israel, though He seems to have set Her aside for a bit, Jesus the Son is married, as Paul writes, to the Church. Then there are those Christians, the majority in fact, who say that Jesus is not married to the Church yet, though God the Father HAS changed gears & made Israel the Church; so, that would mean that now............................I'm confused!
If the Church has replaced Israel as the Wife of God ( the Bride of Christ ), yet we have Three separate & distinct Persons within the 'God-head', then where does that leave the Father, not to mention the Holy Spirit? Is the Father just an old divorcee who has given up on the idea of any sort of marriage except vicariously through His Son ( who is One with Him )?! No matter where this road might lead, you're likely to end up in some sort of ditch & possibly a deadly game of chicken ending in a head-on crash!
For a true Theology of Marriage, we must understand, first, that the institution of marriage spelled out for us in the pages of Scripture IS NOT just about the human institution, though for all intents & purposes it IS the blueprint for marriage between a man & a woman ( not man & man, woman & woman or man & several women ). Marriage is a Divine Institution that not only is pictured BY the human institution; it is the Union that has been & is yet BEING established between the Creator & His Creation. Once this Glorious Truth is established, we can only go further up & further in: the Marriage, as some term it, of Heaven & Earth, like the proverbial leaven, changes EVERYTHING!
Okay, so the Church is the Bride of Christ; this is readily established, right ( 'for the Bible tells me so' )? Jesus ( the Son ) & God ( Jehovah/Yahweh-the Father ) are One, yes, so really, the Church is more correctly the Bride, or Wife of the Creator God, right? Of course, right! As we all know, the majority of Christendom believes that the Marriage has not yet been consummated, though in a sense, through the Holy Spirit, we already live together! Wait...........................Oh, Phew.............they're two separate Persons ( I guess we're not technically Joined to Christ yet............) so we're not guilty of living in..............
Getting back on track here ( I DID say 'track', NOT 'crack' ), this theology, or the study of the Nature of the Creator God, shows us that the Divine Essence is pictured by human marriage; the apostle, under Divine Inspiration, correctly noted that the human institution symbolizes the Divine Institution, or the Make-up of what is commonly referred to as 'the God-head', especially in Trinitarian doctrine. We can argue till the cows come home & we're blue in the face, but the fact is plainly set before us in the pages of Scripture; our marriages are a mere representation, a shadow, if you will, of the True Marriage, the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, or Christ & His Church, as the apostle Paul so eloquently put it. If, as so many Christians object, the Marriage has not yet taken place, that WOULD explain a lot about why so many marriages are a sham & why even many Christian marriages end in divorce!
However, it's abundantly & gloriously clear that, though the apostle WAS writing in expectation of the Consummation of this Marriage, he expected this Revelation SOON, not in his own lifetime, maybe, but in THAT generation! Was he wrong? Some people seem to think so & from the looks of things, it seem they're right! Everyone knows, though, that things aren't always what they seem ( thank the Father ), so, although it seems that the Marriage has been put on hold ( indefinitely? ) because the human institution is so fucked up ( excuse my French ), we can Rest Assured that the Spirit IS in control of His Body & We ARE moving forward, however slowly & painstakingly!
Charles Haddon Shank