it is amazing to me that God created marriage to be a picture of Christ and the church. even paul himself calls it a profound mystery.
i had always thought that the purpose of this was for married people themselves to understand christ better, and secondarily for non-believers in the world to get a picture of christ's relationship to the church. two books i have read recently, however, show that one of the primary audiences for marriage is actually the children created by the marriage. [the books i am referring to are this momentary marriage by john piper and gospel powered parenting by william farley]
i had never given thought to this before. this is both exciting and challenging. not only do we bring up our children in the wisdom and instruction of the Lord by teaching them from the bible, praying with them, and bringing them to church, but our marriage literally displays christ and the church to them.
for us women, this means that we have the challenging God-given role to show the glory of submission. and this is no easy task. by all accounts, we live in a society that despises and is suspicious of authority. our country was founded by people rebelling against the authority placed over them. autonomy and independence are virtues upheld in america, not submission.
but if we want to raise up children willing and joyful to submit to christ, we have to model day in and out loving and joyful submission to our husbands.
in farley's words: "the message that our marriage preaches either repels or attracts our children. God wants your child to watch your marriage and think... 'when i think of the beauty of the gospel, i think of my parents' marriage. i want to be part of a church that is loved by God the way my dad loves my mother. i want to be part of a church that finds its joy in submitting to Christ as my mother joyfully submits to my father.'"
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.