by Mary Somerville
Sadly, we're all aware of marriage casualties of couples who were devoted to serving the Lord. When the marriage of a ministry couple fails, it deals a devastating blow to the church of Jesus Christ, not to mention the family.
Sisters, it is absolutely imperative that we build strong marriages! Strong marriages mirror the unity of the Trinity, the incarnational submission and respect of Christ to His Father, and the redeeming love of Christ for His bride. Enduring marriages draw people to the source of such unsurpassable beauty.
This series gets to the crux of why I wrote this book-to encourage you to focus on building oneness with your husband. We'll look at four models for understanding God's design for your marriage when the two become one, based on the oneness that Jesus demonstrated with His Father.
The unity of husband and wife is a mystery. Where shall we begin to search out this mystery of marital oneness? Back to the Garden of Eden. It is there that God created man and woman in innocency to be completely one with each other and with Him. They had complete unity in heart, mind, and body. What a paradise that must have been!
What was the source of that unity? It was God Himself, who existed for eternity within the three distinct persons of the Godhead-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This first model for the ministry marriage is found in the Trinity.
One plus one plus one does not equal one, but in God's math it does. This is a mystery of profound proportions-three distinct persons, yet one (in essence)! They are in perfect interpersonal relationship with each other. There is no competition, discord, or rivalry. There has never been a moment of anger or jealousy. There is always perfect fellowship and a unity of purpose, although they have different roles.
Similarly, as beings created in the image of God, we are called to reflect this oneness within the Trinity. "Just as there was fellowship and communication and sharing of glory among the members of the Trinity before the world was made (see John 17:5, 24), so God made Adam and Eve in such a way that they would share love and communication and mutual giving of honor to one another in their interpersonal relationship."1
Do you remember when the pastor made the proclamation at the conclusion of your wedding, "I pronounce that they are husband and wife together, no longer two but one flesh, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; those whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Amen."? Didn't that give you a thrill? God, the very source of unity, joined us as husband and wife together as we made that covenant before Him.
It is a total and irrevocable commitment. The oneness is of His making. This is how it was from the beginning. Jesus, when speaking about marriage, quotes the creation account: "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate" (Matt. 19:5-6, cf. Gen. 2:24).
What happened in the Garden that spoiled that unity? Sin! We learned that Eve sinned and then influenced her husband for evil, then blamed the serpent for her sin. Adam followed her into sin and then shifted the blame to her and then to God Himself. He said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate" (Gen. 3:12).
Have you noticed all the blame-shifting that takes place when we have a sin problem? For Adam and Eve, sin brought estrangement from each other and from their loving creator God, and they were cast out into a hostile world that was blighted by their sin. Sin had, and continues to have, devastating consequences.
Enter God, in love, seeking them. God was the initiator, providing for their sin problem and restoring fellowship with them. Enter Jesus Christ, seeking you and your husband. Can you see that when we admit our sin and alienation from God and receive the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, we are at one with God? That is the atonement-at-one-ment.
My marriage is unique in that I am at one with God through Jesus Christ and that makes me uniquely one with Bob. We have a complete oneness that those outside of Christ cannot experience. We have one Savior and Lord, one name, one new family, one goal, one Word to guide us, and one focus of our lives-to glorify God.
We have the Holy Spirit living within both of us to empower us to love each other sacrificially and to help us work through all hindrances to our oneness. With Christ in our lives there is hope for any difficulty we face. By His grace we can forgive as we have been forgiven. The Spirit knits us together and gives us a new heart that desires to serve Christ and give sacrificially to one another in love.
Picture a triangle with God at the apex, your husband and you at the other two points. The closer you both grow to God and make Him the top priority-the apex in both of your lives-the closer you become to each other. It's true in geometry and in human relationships.
If we desire harmony and oneness in our marriage, I believe we must understand and imitate how Jesus lived out His life in the relationship He had with His Father and use that as a model.