Imagine a marriage of liberty.
He loves Jesus and prays through the power of the Spirit. If he sins, he confesses his sins to the ones he sinned against and brings his faults to the throne of grace.
His sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ.
He uses his mind and his body for good. He works diligently so he might have to give to those in need.
He knows how to wash a dish and do his laundry and go shopping. He knows what bills are due and how to pay them.
He understands the condition of his flocks and herds.
When there is disaster, he prays. His Father in heaven hears because he stands in Christ as an heir of eternal life. When life is prosperous, he gives thanks and bends the knee to his Father in heaven.
Imagine he meets a woman.
She loves Jesus and prays through the power of the Spirit. If she sins, she confesses her sins to the ones she sinned against and brings her faults to the throne of grace.
Her sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ.
She uses her mind and her body for good. She works diligently so she might have to give to those in need.
She knows how to wash a dish and do her laundry and go shopping. She knows what bills are due and how to pay them.
She understands the condition of her flocks and herds.
When there is disaster, she prays. Her Father in heaven hears because she stands in Christ as an heir of eternal life. When life is prosperous, she gives thanks and bends the knee to her Father in heaven.
His eyes catch hers from across the room. He goes and introduces himself. They talk about rationalism and irrationalism and textual criticism and colors and poetry. They talk of wisdom and flowers and sixteenth century Italian poets.
He thinks that she is beautiful and she thinks that he is handsome, but they aren’t trying to dominate or control or use each other. They are just dreaming and talking and sharing and learning what it means to love.
Sometimes they agree. Sometimes they don’t. And their love grows.
They get married, not because he needs someone to cook and clean and do laundry. But because he loves her and the yoke is easier if you pull it together.
They get married, not because she needs a provider and a protector, but because she loves him and the yoke is easier if you pull it together.
She has been hurt before so her natural inclination is to be guarded and closed off, but she opens to him because she trusts him with her heart and her body and her mind. She knows that he is in Christ and she is in Christ so she opens to him in love and joy.
He has been taught his whole life that he is to lead her and rule over her to keep her from getting out of control – but he knows that she is in Christ and he is in Christ and that they both have the Holy Spirit and the word of God, so he just loves her and longs to understand her more every day. He opens to her and she opens to him and as their trust grows their love grows.
She sins and she confesses her faults to God because she is an heir of eternal life. He hears her and forgives.
He sins and he confesses his faults to God because he is an heir of eternal life. God hears and forgives.
And they grow closer.
He still thinks that she is beautiful and she still thinks that he is handsome, but they aren’t trying to dominate or control or use each other. They are still just dreaming and talking and sharing and learning what it means to love, and doing it together.
Now imagine another scenario. Imagine a church that does not use fear to keep marriages together.
Imagine civil laws that impose no penalties on divorce.
Imagine that either the man or the woman could leave and divorce anytime they choose without shame, without penalty, without consequence (this is an “unreal condition” for grammarians. That means it does not exist, nor should it necessarily exist, but for the sake of this argument we are imagining that it exists).
Neither the husband nor the wife even consider divorcing, nor does adultery ever enter the heart – not because they are afraid of consequences, but because their love is so complete and perfect.
THIS, it seems to me, is what it means to be sanctified. It should be the goal of our marriage, and it should be the goal of our life.
To be made perfect in love.
‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
Because sin and treachery are still in the world, we still need the sanctions of the state. We need to regulate and protect the weak from the strong. We need to punish those who act treacherously.
But that is not the goal of humanity, nor is it the goal of the new birth.
The goal is to be made perfect in love, where not even the least thought or inclination of our hearts even consider acting treacherously towards our God.
8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
1 Timothy 1:8-11
It should also be the goal of our marriages.
I can never understand why a man desires a marriage based on fear.
Why would you want your wife to stay simply because she is afraid to leave?
Perhaps our focus should be elsewhere as husbands. Perhaps our focus should be to love our wives as Christ loved the church. To provide the atmosphere together with your wife for both of you to prosper, to freely love, to plan, to dream, to live freely as joint-heirs of Christ.
Isn’t this what we were all made for? Why settle for fear and coercion when the feast of love is promised and offered to all who will submit to Christ? Learn from him, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.