Friday, July 11, 2008

union with Christ and how it helps me love my husband

The following is an unpublished excerpt from my article "Why I love the doctrine of union with Christ (and how the Puritans helped me to love it)" in the January edition of Ishah. Because they didn't want to deal with the controversial topic of submission in this issue, we agreed to leave out this section, about how union with Christ affects my marriage. But I thought you might like to read it:

Union with Christ helps me to love others for Christ’s sake.

The Puritans helped me to realise that Christ is my first husband, that I share an intimate and unbreakable bond with Him:

Christ calls the day of his espousals [a binding betrothal] the day of the gladness of his heart." The delight of the bridegroom in the day of his espousals is the heights of what an expression of delight can be carried unto. His heart is glad in us, without sorrow. And every day whilst we live is his wedding day.*
Since Christ is my first husband, I love others primarily for His sake, not for theirs.

I don’t love, serve and submit to my husband because he is smarter, wiser, godlier or more capable than me, but because my first husband is Christ, and this is what He demands of me – and my great delight is to love, serve and submit to Him.

Like yours (if you are married) my husband is deeply sinful and fallible, and so am I!

When I feel like I know better than my husband, and the shape of our current life is not meeting my needs, or the shape of our future lives could better be decided by me, I don’t submit because he is smarter or more important than me, but because Christ demands it of me – and I trust Him absolutely to lay down guidelines which protect me, and to care for my deepest needs.

When I am tired and the last thing I feel like doing is serving my husband’s needs above my own, I don’t serve him because he is higher than me and more worthy of my service, but because Christ gave me an example by serving me. I serve because it brings honour to Christ – and He is higher than me and more worthy of my service.

When I feel like hurting my husband for some hurt that he has done to me, I don’t swallow back the angry retort because he deserves my forgiveness, but because Christ died to win the forgiveness I didn't deserve. I forgive because it pleases Christ – and I delight to bring pleasure to Him.

Christ is my first husband, and He died for me to make me his bride. He deserves all my submission, service and love. All I do, in my marriage and in all other relationships, I ultimately do for Him.

* John Owen, Communion With God; he quotes Song of Songs 3:11. I've taken out the "..." for easy reading.

image is from stock.xchng


Honoria said...

What a beautiful er... marriage? hmmm.... union? between doctrines of grace and submission. Our doctrine lecturer recently said that "union in Christ" is one of the most central, yet overlooked tenants of Christianity.

Christ's ways of thinking and relating turn the world's ways upside down. YAY!!

Thanks for a lovely and useful post, Jean.

mattnbec said...

Useful application of union to human marriage, Jean, and a good reminder that human marriage is based on our spiritual one to Christ.

I agree with your lecturer, Honoria. I don't think I really understood it much at all until I was at theol college (although, I'm quite willing to concede that I might be a bit slow to work things out). Understanding union with Christ made a number of puzzle pieces suddenly fall into place. So now, it's one of my favourite doctrines too.