May 11, 2017

Ephesians 5:31-32 Revisited

Yesterday, we looked at Ephesians 5:31-32, the congregational unison reading for the forthcoming Lord’s Day. We saw it’s setting and the primary aspects of Law and Gospel in the text, especially as related to the other passages for the day. We looked at what the symbol of marriage shows us about Jesus. Today, I want to come at this from the other side and see that the relationship between Jesus and His Church teaches us about the definition of marriage.

The Text

Ephesians 5:31-32

[31] “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” [32] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (ESV)

The Symbols

In our passage, the symbols are quite straightforward. Just as woman was taken out of man’s side, the Church was taken out of Christ’s side whence blood and water flowed when He was pierced for our transgressions. So, the Church is the bride and Christ the husband.

The Implications

I believe this symbolism has practical implications for marriage and sexual ethics.

  • Extra-marital cohabitation is wrong, because it blasphemes Christ by symbolizing a savior who gave in to the Devil. When Christ was in the wilderness, Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world. Now these were His by right and were promised Him in the messianic prophecies. Yet Christ had to rightly obtain His bride through the New Covenant. Likewise, a husband must obtain a bride through the covenant of marriage.

  • Gay marriage is wrong, because it blasphemes Christ by symbolizing an utterly self-centered savior. Gay marriage denies the Gospel by symbolizing a Savior who saved no one, a Christ who served no one but Himself. Perhaps it even symbolizes a savior who saved Himself. “So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself.‘”

  • Lesbian marriage is wrong, because it blasphemes Christ by symbolizing a church without a savior. When two women claim to be married, they show forth a symbol of a humanity who believe they can save themselves. They deny their sin. They deny the need for a savior and count the sacrifice of Christ as worthless.

  • Polyandry is wrong, because it blasphemes Christ by symbolizing a church with multiple gods. Jesus Christ is a perfect and sufficient savior for His people. They need no other. Indeed, we may have no other Gods before him. Polyandry is an open acclamation of idolatry.

Polygyny is ambiguous. It was allowed, at least to the Old Testament saints. At the very least, in times past there has been a practical need to cope with the realities of the world by allowing a man multiple wives. Even this agrees with the symbolism of Christ and the Church, as now we see not one single, global, unified, and visible church, but Christ has several Churches now in the world.


Marriage is all about the Gospel. Through yesterday’s lens, we see how this symbolic relationship points us to the hope of our future, perfectly restored relationship with our maker. Through today’s lens, we see how the world’s perversions of marriage are ways in which the World and the Devil would teach us to deny our Savior and His Gospel. We believe in natural, Biblical marriage as a testimony to the work of God for us.

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