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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Marriage & Substitutionary Atonement


Our goal in covenant marriage is to lay down our life so that our spouse can become more like Christ. Give them the grace to mature. Keep your eyes on the cross.

I recently read this passage in a book entitled 
Well-Driven Nails by Byron Yawn:

The Problem with Christian Marriage Seminars

It is assumed by most evangelicals that doctrine plays little if any role in life's more important issues. Take marriage, for example. Our most popular books on the subject would indicate the need is practical and not theological. But is not biblical marriage dependent on the central doctrine of our faith, the atonement (Ephesians 5:22-33)? Paul's discussion of marriage was merely an opportunity to emphasize the power of the cross in one important area of life. He was not using the death of Christ as an analogy of marriage. We've got it backwards, He was using marriage as an analogy of the cross. Marriage is⎯at it's core⎯a living analogy of Christ's death. The power of the cross put on display within the most intimate relationship on earth. Paul's point? 

You can't have a "better" marriage without understanding doctrine, especially substitutionary atonement.

There's thick irony here. How is it you can spend an entire weekend at a Christian marriage seminar and never hear the gospel preached or the atonement explained? A substantial commentary on the Church, I'm afraid. Paul's marriage seminars were much different than ours. At his, all you heard about all weekend was the Cross of Christ.. "Session One: The Cross." "Session Two: The Cross." "Breakout Session: The Cross." "Husband's Breakfast: The Cross" "Wives Luncheon: The Cross." So on and so forth. Maybe if you were lucky, he'd mention marriage somewhere toward the end. Or maybe not. Doesn't much matter. When you left, you understood marriage. Whether a husband or wife, you knew your responsibility. The cross makes Christian marriage obvious. More to the point, Christian marriage should make the cross obvious.

In my nearly twenty years of pastoral ministry, I've never had a couple implode because they didn't have enough practical marriage tips. Usually, it implodes because tips are all they have. There's no cross. Never was. Ironically, Christian marriage seminars are part of what's wrong with Christian marriages.

2 comments:

suzi said...

when cosmo was asking the Lord for the reason why I was the one he was to marry, His answer was, "Because she will be for your sanctification." not exactly your typical, smooshy-love, marriage seminar tip... :) love your writing and your insights and YOU!!

Stephanie Cherry said...

I love that, Suzi! You have a beautiful story.

Thank you for your kind words. I love you and your writing.