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Marriage as a Picture

March 22, 2007

And, at last, we have arrived at my third reason for choosing marriage over celibacy. (If you have not read the first two parts of this “series”, I recommend starting there. The first two posts can be found here and here.)

(Please note that this decision was not made without a great deal of consideration. I have a lot of respect for those who choose celibacy. But if we are completely honest about it… I would choose marriage. And these are my reasons.)

Throughout the Bible, God describes His relationship to us through the image of marriage. …

Because he walked it out in his own marriage to a prostitute, Hosea has a unique understanding of God’s heart toward His harlot bride, Israel. He has shared in God’s emotions in a way that the rest of us may be able to faintly imagine, but cannot come close to grasping outside of the fellowship that Hosea had with this experience in the heart of God. His was an imperfect identification with how God felt, but it surely opened up his understanding in a profound way.

Umm… in case there is any confusion, that last paragraph was in no way intended to indicate that I want an experience like Hosea’s. In fact… I’m not even sure why I started with that. It just kind of came out when I started typing.

The point is, when you experience something first-hand, you understand it a great deal more. Understanding God as a loving Father is significantly harder if you have never met your earthly father or if your own father’s brokenness has left you with a wounded image of fatherhood. Understanding God as brother is more difficult if you are an only child and don’t really have a concept for what a brother is (in a relational sense). Understanding God as mother (it’s OK, people… just breathe; we don’t have to be scared of feminine images of God) is again difficult if you have had no experience of a true mother. To someone like David or Jonathan who experienced such a beautiful and intimate friendship, the idea of God as friend is much more significant than it is to those who have only known superficial and highly conditional friendships.

Undoubtedly, our experience of these things is broken and imperfect. No one is a father, brother, mother, friend, or spouse in the way that God is. Each of the people in our lives are broken and our relationships with them are marred by scars and wounds. But there are glimpses that we can still find through these imperfect reflections. The fuzzy images lead us closer to an understanding of who God is, what He feels,  and who we are to Him. And we slowly begin to discern, in what we see, the things that are a part of the true reflection and the things that are a part of the distortion.

So… in marriage, we gain a greater understanding of what it means for Jesus to be the Bridegroom and the Church to be the Bride. Apart from marriage, we can read about it. We can form great concepts and ideas about it. We can observe other marriages and cognitively wrap our minds around it. But there is something completely different about experiential knowledge which we can take in and know more intuitively.

So, through my husband, I want to more fully understand Jesus as Bridegroom. Both through the positive experiences of the marriage that are a good reflection and through the longing that I feel and lack that I experience through his imperfections and the reality that he falls short of Jesus’ glory as Bridegroom.

I am not saying, by any means, that those who are embracing a celibate lifestyle can know nothing of this.  But I think that they do not encounter these realities as intimately as those who are married have the opportunity to encounter them. Likewise, there are things that they experience more fully than those who are married truly can.

The Bridal Paradigm is something that fascinates and moves me. And I want to get as close to the imperfect mirror as I can in trying to see God through His reflection in an earthly marriage. My understanding of God and the church could not be modeled exactly off of my marriage… but I may find greater comprehension through it.

So…. thus ended my three-part explanation of why I, personally, would choose marriage over celibacy were I given the option of God giving me the grace for either. 🙂

There are plenty of other reasons. Most of them considerably less significant. But those are my top three. 

I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this. Given the same question, what would your answer be, and why? Is there anything that I have said in these three posts that struck you as particularly odd? Seriously… I am really curious to hear your perspectives on this.

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3 comments

  1. yes. to everything. hosea’s relationship always intrigues me… and blesses me with hope for my little harlot heart–i have a Lover who buys me back when i don’t trust his love and turn to others; i mean, that’s huge.

    anyhoo, i am fairly convinced that i desire marriage as much as i do because i long for Christ as an eternal husband. i have no way of making that happen in a tangible fashion on this side of eternity, obviously, and so i see the blessing of an earthly marriage as such a picture of that love to which i most truly desire.

    it goes along with how miss donna talks about seeing the Jesus in the ones we love–we desire to spend time with others because they remind us of Christ and it moves our hearts. i want to be a friend of God, so naturally, when i see his character displayed in a person in my life, it stirs me up. marriage should be the same way–i want to marry a man who reflects Christ. absolutely. anything other desired trait is extraneous (and most likely somewhat silly if i think about it long enough).

    good topic, christine. i like the way the conversation carried.


  2. i found your site by googling “ihop fitn track 1” and then i found your “marriage and celibacy” categories. i really like what you wrote. i really like the question that was posed to you by ihop that made you write these three entries. they increased my clarity and freedom on some things. thanks for sharing 🙂


  3. Rachael – Thanks for the comment. I’m glad that sharing from my own consideration of these things was able to benefit you in some way.



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