Right, so I just listened to the Albert Mohler talk on marriage I posted earlier today for the second time. I must say, although it was still decent, I liked it much less upon reviewing it. Why? Well, let me tell you.
I’m going to speak here on the assumption that you’ve actually taken the time to listen to the presentation. You should be able to follow my thoughts reasonably well even if you haven’t, and even if that’s the case I urge you to read on anyway – I think this is important.
Anyway, I noticed something in Mohler’s lecture that I tend to notice an awful lot among Baptists: there was an awful lot of talk about “glorifying God”, but relatively little talk about Jesus. Now, to a Lutheran like myself, this is practically an oxymoron – you do not have the glory of God apart from Christ. So why have a conversation about glorifying God and not focus on Christ? Let me dissect this idea.
In Mohler’s speech, he talks over and over about having a marriage that will “maximize the glory of God”. He asserts (or at least implies) that finding a spouse and keeping yourself away from hanky-panky until marriage is the key means of this taking place. In other words, marriage glorifies God because it keeps you walking the straight-and-narrow; it allows you to be a good little Christian and not offend God’s holy Law when sexual passion overtakes you – thus maximizing God’s glory.
This was all strange enough to me, upon reviewing the lecture, but one thing was absent that made it all the stranger: a reference to how marriage points to Christ and the Church. (actually, the only reference to Jesus I remember at all was a passing mention of His statement that some are eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven in Matt 19:20)
Seriously, where was Ephesians 5:22-32?
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
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 wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Disagree if you will, but I believe that this passage should be at the center of ANY conversation about marriage. Why? Because it makes it explicitly clear that marriage is ultimately about Christ. Look, if we are going to talk about marriage and how it brings glory to God, we have an obligation to make this connection.
But for Dr. Mohler in this talk (and for much of Baptist theology) the question before us is not “how does this point to Christ?” but “how can we do a better job at this?”
This Law-focused mentality is, I put forth, destructive. When God being glorified depends on me and my efforts (at marriage, my job, parenting, whatever), it will never be done. I am a sinful man, living a sinful life, in the midst of other sinners – I can never have a good enough marriage.
Rather, marriage is – above all institutions – the finger that points to Christ (and, by proxy, what HE has done to glorify God perfectly, in a way that I never could). St. Paul makes this explicit, as above, and again, I am quite saddened that in a talk about how marriage glorifies God Dr. Mohler missed this central truth:
That the mystery of marriage is profound, and it is all about God’s glory – not because of my successes in “doing it right”, but because it points categorically to the only one who can and has done it right: Christ Jesus.