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Marriage: A Dance of Beauty and Chaos

This sponsored post was provided by Burke Care, and written by Jen Arend, which invites you to schedule care today with a certified biblical counselor.

As the music swells, she begins her descent down the aisle. All eyes are on her, especially her groom. She is radiant, majestic, and filled with beauty. Her gaze meets his tear-filled eyes. The two express vows before God and witnesses, though it does not take long before they learn that living out those vows becomes a dance of beauty and chaos.[1] How can earthly marriage thrive in the dance? Any discussion of roles in marriage begins with beholding the ultimate Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. In beholding the true Bridegroom from Genesis to Revelation, marriage is transformed into a beautiful dance, reflecting the relationship of Christ to his church.

Beholding the Lord Jesus, and his bride, begins in the “very good” creation of the opening chapters of Genesis. First, this relationship is seen in the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit dwell together in perfect unity and mutual love (Matt. 3:16-17; 12:18; Mark 9:7; John 14:31; 17:24). God then gave human expression to this beautiful, Trinitarian relationship by creating Adam and Eve in the garden. What God created was “very good,” a real-time, flesh and blood expression of the deep unity that exists in the Godhead, an earthly picture of Christ and his church. The man and the woman walked with God in perfection and experienced the blessing of an unstained unity and love for one another, a dance of sheer beauty . . . until Genesis 3.

The fall of man, as recounted in Genesis 3, warped both the vertical and the horizontal dance. The whole human race was plunged into sin through the disobedience of Adam (Rom. 5:12-19), as Adam became the first bridegroom who failed. The relationship between God and man was marred, and because of the curse, earthly marriage became a dance of beauty and chaos. Where Adam failed as the first bridegroom, Genesis 3:15 revealed the seed promise of a Bridegroom to come who would never fail, alluded to throughout the entire Old Testament.

While the vertical relationship between Christ and his church continues in a fallen world, horizontally Christian marriages are called to reflect the beauty of this relationship.

Jen Arend

The books of Genesis to Malachi are replete with references to God as the ultimate Bridegroom (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 31:32; Ezek. 16:8-32). Throughout the Old Testament, there are large portions of Scripture dedicated to this theme. Some examples include: the book of Ruth with marvelous Boaz, Hosea’s chaotic depiction of loving his prostitute wife, and the Song of Song’s vivid allegory with much application to earthly marriage. Throughout the Old Testament, God presents himself as the perfect Husband to his people, foreshadowing his Son who would come to be the ultimate Husband.

After years of silence, God spoke to us in his Son (Heb. 1:2). Christ came to us gentle and lowly. Though somewhat veiled in the Gospels, Jesus referred to himself as the Bridegroom in relation to fasting and to his second coming (Matt. 9:15; Mark 2:19). Then in Ephesians 5, Paul with total clarity presents the Lord Jesus as the great Husband of his bride, the church. Quite clearly, Christ’s model of sacrificial love is to be the example for all earthly husbands. Jesus was the servant of all (Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17) and the lover of his people to the point of laying down his life on a rugged cross, conquering sin and death through his glorious resurrection.

In contrast to Christ’s perfection, his bride the church walks in this broken world as a new creation in him, and yet still not wholly perfected. The church battles against the world, the flesh, and the devil as she lives out the dance of beauty and chaos in her relationship with Christ. This brokenness is an ever-present reality in this life. But Christ loves his bride and woos her until one day he will take her home by death or his imminent return. The bride will be perfected, and the Bridegroom will dwell with his bride in radiant glory. All of redemptive history points to this. The great multitude of Revelation 19:7 will thunder, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” Oh, what a glorious day that will be, when the perfected bride will behold the face of her ever-perfect Bridegroom!

As we gaze upon the beauty of Christ, these truths have implications for the dance of earthly marriage. While the vertical relationship between Christ and his church continues in a fallen world, horizontally Christian marriages are called to reflect the beauty of this relationship. Because of the fall, this warped dance is found even in the best of marriages, some more beautiful and others more chaotic. How can these truths help the more chaotic moments or the desperately broken seasons of marriage in a fallen world? Sinners by faith must first be brought into a living relationship with the perfect Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, and continually behold his beauty. It is only in a growing relationship with Christ that a couple is able to love the way that God loves and find greater oneness in the dance. Though not perfected in this life, “abiding in Christ” makes it possible to live out a more beautiful picture of Christ and the church, for “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Could it be that many marriages suffer as a result of not beholding the Bridegroom as presented in all of redemptive history, from creation to consummation? A robust understanding of the perfect love relationship that exists between the persons of the Trinity is the sure foundation for earthly marriage. And when one beholds Christ as the ultimate Bridegroom, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, and the church as his beloved bride, there leaves little room for wrong views of headship and submission, little room for habits of mistreatment in Christian marriage. Roles in marriage flow from the robust foundation of the oneness of marriage, just as the roles in the Trinity flow from the beautiful oneness of the Godhead.

When one gazes upon the beauty of Christ as the ultimate Bridegroom, the heart is inevitably changed. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed . . .” (2 Cor. 3:18). Being drawn back to the perfection of the garden and drawn forward to the new creation, Christ makes all the difference in the present. With eyes fixed on the true Bridegroom, the dance of earthly marriage becomes a little less chaotic and filled with greater beauty, all to the resounding glory of God alone.

[1] Imagery of a dance inspired by Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage.

If you have found “being transformed” more painful than expected, please consider reaching out. One of our Burke Care Team members would love to hear your story and help you navigate the “dance.”

You can find more blog post like this at Blog — Burke Care.

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