Apart from adoption, the only other way to inherit a new family is through marrying into one. Marriage happens to be one of the Bible’s primary metaphors for the effect of the gospel on humanity: we marry into the family of God.
Marriage is a pointer
The Apostle Paul unpacks God’s rationale in bringing Adam and Eve together in marriage. He says, “this mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).
In other words, marriage has always been referring to something else; namely, the union which the church will enjoy with Jesus. The Apostle John catches this glimpse as well when he records in Revelation 21:2, “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband“.
She’s a whore
The Bible also bears witness to how this relationship is really what we would call a broken marriage. The fact is, God repeatedly (and rightly) calls the nation Israel a whore in Scripture (Jer. 13:27; Ezek. 6:9; 16:15). The imagery in Jeremiah 2:20 is downright shocking, “on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore”, more literally translated, “you spread your legs like a whore”. Yikes.
An infinitely gracious husband
Do you feel the tension? God, infinitely pure and perfect, married a whore (or, so the imagery goes). Surely, no respectable churchgoer would endorse such a union.
One of the funniest pieces of imagery in the Bible is found in Proverbs 11:22, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” Such is the person who strives to look good to Jesus. Jewelry just won’t help. You’re a pig.
To be sure, the church-bride is entirely incapable of cleaning up her act. But Jesus, the gentle and loving Groom, “gave himself up for her” and “cleansed her with the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:25-26). She [read: we] does not deserve a white gown at the wedding; but, “it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” (Rev. 19:8).
Marriage is clearly a picture of the gospel – a husband dealing with a sinful bride graciously, moving towards complete redemption. Of course, husbands are not nearly perfect and oftentimes it is the wife who must deal graciously with her husband.
Nonetheless, our marriages are opportunities to display Jesus’ marital grace on the stage of our homes. Husbands, love your wives like Christ loves the church. Wives, submit to your husbands as the church submits to Christ.
If you’re single, don’t overlook single mothers, don’t overlook the women with a past. Jesus didn’t. He’s marrying a whore.