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March 26, 2009 / beidson

Blood and Marriage: Why You Can’t Have One Without The Other

Marriage may be a divine institution, but it is no less a difficult union, thanks to the legacy ofmarriage faithlessness left to us by our original parents, Adam and Eve.  Since the treacherous debacle in the Garden, we’ve been eating the sour fruit of flesh-centered living for generations.  Try as we may, it is many times painful to endure the troubles and problems unique to marriage, and as a matter of fact, many these days simply refuse to do so.  And there is a reason these marriages don’t last, but it’s not because there isn’t any love; there may be love enough, to be sure.  The reason is that there isn’t any blood.

Though many husbands and wives may not understand this, the thing they are looking for in marriage is not unconditional love but unconditional blood.  Love is necessary, of course–marriage cannot last if husbands and wives are unwilling to forgive one another and show grace and mercy.  But unconditional love is the fruit of grace and mercy, not the root.  Husbands do not ultimately love their wives because they want to be gracious toward them.  They love their wives because marriage is a means of grace itself.  It is the gift of a merciful, gracious God who intends for men and women to pursue love and pleasure through fidelity.  We love because God first loved us; we are faithful because God has first been faithful toward us.  Fidelity, then, is getting closer to the meaning of marriage.  But by itself, fidelity does not fully display the glory of marriage.  In order for this to happen, fidelity must be bathed in blood, literally.

The one-flesh union of man and woman in marriage is a relationship created by a tearing of the flesh, as a young man and woman forsake the bloodline of their own parents to begin a new one together.  Their family roots are subordinated to the new family root that begins with them.  Their fidelity is no longer to their parents, but to one another, and to God.  In marriage, two bloodlines beget a new one, and with every child, the evidence of this new blood is made visible.  In this sense, marriage is literally about blood.

But there is a greater and better blood that makes marriage the glorious thing that it is.  When the Scriptures tell us that Christ died for his bride, the church, it does not mean to leave us with a mere example to follow.  It intends to reveal to us the meaning of marriage, the glory of an unparalleled love which was proven to us by the bloody display of a crucified husband.  It intends to show us the bloody love and faithfulness of a bride who pursues the knowledge and glory of her Husband-King by enduring persecution and embracing suffering, even at the threat and promise of death.  Jesus’ death was necessary to redeem us from the clutches of our idolatrous sins.  Our death is necessary if we want to have life in Christ.  Here is a marriage made in heaven, but wrought by death on earth.  This is the essence of marriage: a fidelity unto death.

When husbands lose their temper and snap at their wives, the issue is not so much an overloaded schedule as it is a lack of self control, and even more, a lack of death to self, a lack of self-crucifixion, a lack of blood.  When a wife rejects the biblical headship of her husband, her problem is not political correctness or feminism, but a rejection of the blood which bore the condemnation of her sin, a blood which has authority over her.  When a husband and wife refuse to be reconciled to one another, they are refusing to be reconciled to God by the blood of Jesus.

But when husbands and wives endure with hope in Jesus the trials and temptations which continually come against them, they bear witness to the power of the bloody cross to deliver from evil all those who cast themselves on a merciful Redeemer.  When husbands play the man and tend to their responsibilities with excellence and humility, they display the glory of a greater Husband who, for the joy set before him, turned his face toward Jerusalem and set his eyes on Golgotha’s shameful cross.  When husbands put away fear and cowardice to defend their wives and families from those who would manipulate or hurt them, when they aggressively chase away the enemies and temptations which might overcome them, they are imaging a Shepherd who is not afraid to engage in a bloody battle for the lives of those he loves.  When wives subdue their dominions at home, they are not simply keeping things in order for appearance sake–they are daily dying to the themselves by obeying God rather than the flesh.  They are rejecting a demonic feminism which pridefully elevates women and gladly embracing a godly femininity that humbly exalts women, and they are doing so at the cost of their own blood as they continually give themselves up in service to others.

The blood which stains the marriage union may be the murderous blood of Annanias, who did not defend the godliness of his wife, but lead her into temptation and prepared the way for her destruction.  Or it may be the blood of Jesus and his Bride, who loved not their lives, even unto death.  Love is a good thing, but unless love is mixed with the blood of Christ and the blood of death to self, it is not the kind of love which will endure forever.  Yes, you may have love.  But the real question is, Do you have blood?  And is it the blood of fidelity, which displays to the world the wonder and majesty of a Husband whose faithfulness endures throughout every generation?  It is one thing to have a loveless marriage, but quite another to have a bloodless one.  There is a difference.  Marriage is the display, not merely of love, but of bloody fidelity.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 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 wirnkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

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