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Christ and the Church Part 1

If marriage is to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33), then it is of utmost importance that we represent this relationship well. To misrepresent this relationship is to preach a false gospel. When our marriages are not based on the relationship between Christ and the church, we don’t just have a marriage problem, we have a Christological and ecclesiological malfunction. Before we can understand the God-given purpose of both husband and wife in marriage, we must identify a few misconceptions.

Firstly, we must understand the nature of analogy otherwise we can take the helpful paradigm of Christ and the church to an ungodly level. The relationship between husband and wife is only allowed to be applied as determined by the context Paul lays out in Ephesians. In this case, Paul says “husbands, love your wives” and “wives, submit to your own husbands.” In this text there is no room for domineering or misappropriated worship.

Secondly, we must understand the nature of freedom. When we are told by the Bible how we are to act in particular relationships we are tempted to buck in rebellion. We are groomed to determine our own role and function and from a secular perspective this is sold wholesale: freedom is found in self-determination. But from a Christian perspective we understand that freedom is ultimately found in Christ and submission to him. As we are conformed to him we find our giftings and then image him rightly. Our freedom is not in self-determination but in submitting to God’s will.

Thirdly, we must have a correct definition of equality. While it is tempting to claim that role determines value, this is not what Jesus states or how he lives. He lives his life in total submission to the father while still being equal to him. Equality, then, is not determined by role or function because we are all, male and female, equal co-heirs in the cross. For Jesus, the ‘first shall be last and the last, first,’ is a complete flattening of value and importance in God’s eyes. It is not only a reversal but an overthrow of heirachalism. Paul clearly explains that husband and wife are to function in marriage in a corresponding way to Christ and the church. In part 2 of this post, we’ll examine the relationship between Christ and the church and the implications for husbands and wives.