“The Mystery of Marriage” from For the Fame of God’s Name

Praise God for marriage! What gift can be compared to this one? Who but God could have come up with something so good?

Crossway has kindly granted permission for me to post my essay from the Piper Festschrift:

James M. Hamilton Jr., “The Mystery of Marriage,” pages 253-71 in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.

Taken from For the Fame of God’s Name edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor, ©2010.  Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Here is the opening paragraph of “The Mystery of Marriage”:

Marriage holds a unique place in all the Bible: what else joins two image-bearers together as one, serves as a key concept for understanding the relationship between Yahweh and Israel then Christ and the church, and consequently affords to every married couple the opportunity to live out the gospel? God sets himself on display in marriage, which means that God shows his glory in marriage. Thus, the thesis of this essay is that marriage exists as a unique display of God’s glory.[1] In order to establish and exposit this thesis we will look first at the way that marriage joins two persons in the likeness of God as one. From there the second section explores the way that Yahweh’s relationship to Israel is treated as a marriage, and the third section of this essay will examine the way that marriage exists to portray the relationship between Christ and the church. The final section will look at marriages as mini-dramas of the gospel.[2]


[1] I am humbled to have this opportunity to honor John Piper. The Lord has used him mightily in my life, mainly as I have listened to recorded sermons and addresses across the years. In this preaching, the Lord has used John Piper to herald again and again the infinite glory of God in Christ. I cannot adequately thank him for showing me such glory, but I can join him in praising this glorious God, this worthy Savior, and this powerful Spirit, three persons, ever one God, worthy of all praise. And praise be to God for John Piper! I am also grateful to write on the topic of marriage in honor of Piper, since his chapter on marriage in Desiring God provided a key insight I have pursued in my own marriage and announced at every wedding at which it has been my privilege to speak: love seeks its joy in the joy of the beloved. “The reason there is so much misery in marriage is not that husbands and wives seek their own pleasure, but that they do not seek it in the pleasure of their spouses” (John Piper, Desiring God [Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996], 175–76). See also John Piper, This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009).

[2] For a wider discussion of marriage in the Old Testament, see Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998), 466–69. For a broader discussion of marriage that takes up the issues of divorce, qualifications for elders, and children, see Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 776–86.

From there the outline of the essay is as follows:

Adam and Eve: Two Become One

Yahweh and Israel: Covenant Broken and Kept

Hosea 1: Hosea and Gomer
Hosea 2: Israel’s History and Future
Hosea 3: Hosea and Israel’s Future

Jesus and the Church: Marriage and the Gospel

The Fulfillment of Old Testament Expectation
The Deep Waters of the Meaning of Marriage

The Gospel and Marriage

Conclusion

The essay’s end is punctuated by an attempt at poetry:

Marriage

Like land and sea and stars above
And all else he has made,
This too is for the glory of
The one who has displayed

A love not based on beauty’s shades
Nor driven by some debt,
A love before there were yet days
Like none else ever met.

The archetype for man and wife
Is Christ’s love for his bride.
To Christ her Lord the church submits,
And for her life he died.

And for this reason, man should leave
His parents and his kin,
And to his wife then he shall cleave
Never to leave again.

Please do read the whole thing. This essay was written for a volume honoring John Piper, and my prayer is also that it will serve to strengthen the marriages of those who read it.

May your understanding of the gospel be deepened, and may it be displayed in the way you love your spouse and hold marriage in honor (Heb 13:5, even if you aren’t married).

1 Comment

Filed under Attempts at poetry, Bible and Theology, Biblical Theology, Books, Gospel, Marriage, OT in the NT

One response to ““The Mystery of Marriage” from For the Fame of God’s Name

  1. Jimmy Stanfield

    I am happy for anybody who can do marriage in this wicked Sodom and Gommorah America today. It looks so hard that although being single is very hard sometimes I still think marriage looks harder.

    I remember as a young Pentecostal boy reading Dr. Criswell’s commentary about marriage, he said “…the two become one flesh, not like one flesh but one flesh; imagine if you violently lose an arm, that’s the same kind of trauma a person going through a divorce feels.” I never forgot that and I’ve councelled people going through marriage problems and I always go back to that illustration. All the pain and suffering I’ve seen by marital infidelity makes me pray often and tell the Lord that I’d rather die than commit adultery, and he knows I mean it.

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