As many of you have gotten to know my family over this past year, you have come to learn that I like to make a lot of jokes at my wife’s expense. Based upon what you hear me say sometimes, it may surprise you to find that there is no one that I love and respect more on the face of this planet. My wife is my best friend and there is no one other than Jesus Christ himself that I adore. It’s great fun being married to her.
I am a big fan of marriage. In fact, I believe the marriage relationship is the single most important and powerful relationship there is, outside of our personal one with Christ. The marriage relationship is the centerpiece of our families, and it is a picture of the relationship that exists between Christ and his church. Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5 is so beautiful and rich. It is in these verses that Paul lays out the case for this relationship to take priority over all other familial relationships.
In Ephesians 5:31, Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, where he says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.” This verse helps us to see that our marriage relationships should supersede all of our other earthly relationships. We are to put our greatest energy, time, commitment, and devotion into our spouses. As strong as bonds with parents might be for some, those relationships are to take a back seat. We must no longer be driven by the wishes and expectations of our parents. It is the desires and hopes of our spouses that we should seek to meet first and foremost. It’s great to honor our parents, but if we are more concerned with pleasing and honoring them than we are our spouses then we are guilty of not following the biblical command to leave and to cleave.
Paul emphasized the need for husbands and wives to hold fast to one another. While it may be a struggle for some to put their spouses ahead of their parents, the far greater danger to marriages in our culture today is when parents make their relationships with their children a priority over their marriage. God’s command in Scripture was for husband and wife to hold fast to one another, not to their children. Many marriages struggle because parents over-commit to meeting the needs and taking care of their children.
Yes, our children need us. They need us to be there almost every step of the way early on. My wife and I are experiencing that now in our own family. They also need us, as they grow older, to answer important questions and teach them meaningful lessons. But what they need most, and I cannot not emphasize this enough, is to see each of us making our marriages a priority. It’s great to be at every sporting event, recital, and school program, but that doesn’t give our children a full view of what a healthy family is. That comes when we show them that sacrificially taking care of and meeting the needs of our spouses is of the utmost importance. Healthy families tend to naturally flow from healthy marriages. A strong marriage relationship helps children to feel more secure, confident, and loved. The best way to be a great parent is to be a great spouse.
We are to get our primary need for love and affection met through the marriage relationship, not through the parent-child relationship. If we love our children more than our spouses then the entire family will be pulled out of joint and everyone will end up suffering. Are you giving your marriage the priority it should have? Christ himself set forth the example for us to follow. Ephesians 5 tells us that Christ made his relationship with the church a priority. He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and give himself up for his bride so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (vv.26-27). Make your spouse and your marriage a priority today. While it will be challenging at times, if you do, you will begin to get a beautiful glimpse of the love that Christ displayed and has for his church and for you.