If ever there was an institution on earth that reflected the very nature of who God is, it would be the institution of marriage and the children who are born from it.
The apostle Paul wrote this to the Church in Ephesus,
"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.” Ephesians 5:25-33
You see, Paul compares the love that husbands should have for their wives to the love that Christ has for the Church – also known as the Bride of Christ. A love that is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful or proud or rude; a love that does not demand its own way, is not irritable or keeps record of being wronged. This kind of love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. This kind of love rejoices in the truth of who God is.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
An honest relationship loves despite faults and failures. An honest husband sanctifies his wife with unfailing love and faithfulness, just as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us. Jesus made himself a living sacrifice so that His blood could wash our sins away. In the same way, a husband sacrifices his pride for his wife and his children. He is never domineering or demanding. He is loving. He shepherds and leads by example and teaches his family what it means to be a loving servant.
In Matthew 5, verse 33 to 37, Jesus said,
“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.” But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
You see, a marriage vow is abiding. It’s a promise to stay committed despite what your feelings present. A vow in the eyes of the Lord is like a promise that comes out of your mouth. It’s an oath that you keep despite what you feel or what you think. There is never an excuse to cheat.
Which is why in Matthew Chapter 5, verse 27 to 30, Jesus said,
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery. But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye - even your good eye - causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand - even your stronger hand - causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
I mean, just take a minute to stop and think about the marriage traditions many people in America participate in. The bachelor party is the ultimate celebration of the groom and his nearest and dearest groomsmen. Typically these parties don’t involve sitting around, reading scripture and encouraging one another. Instead they involve getting drunk and watch women remove their clothes.
So before a marriage vow is ever taken, the eye of the beholder has already become tainted. And we wonder why most marriages end in divorce. It’s because the marriage was corrupted before it even started.
But not all is lost. Our Lord is gracious! He is faithful even when we are not. He forgives us and He changes us. He can take all that was lost, all that was corrupt and He can purify us. He can take a tainted heart and turn it inside out, cleansing us and making us right in His sight.
Eventually we come to the end of ourselves, and we have to decide. Do we accept the blood of Christ? This is the marriage vow that Christ extends to every person. We all have the option to accept his pure love, or to turn and walk away from Him.