Moses, according to Jesus, said that divorce was permitted due to a “hardening of the heart”, in the Old Testament. I have heard of and known various marriages which are built on abuse. But because one of the individuals believes they are living out a picture of “Christ sacrificing, or laying down his life” for the other or one is “submitting to” the other, that Christ and the Church must be seen as represented in that marriage.
In the book of Ephesians Paul spells out what a biblical marriage is to look like and he uses Christ and the Church as the example. One thing which many people forget to quote when they are talking about “loving their wives as Christ loved the Church and LAYED HIS LIFE DOWN for her” is the PURPOSE of Christ laying his life down for Her. It goes on to say “so that She might be SANCTIFIED”. In other words, so that she might be made more and more into the image of Jesus and made more and more “holy”.
And now the wife’s or Church’s response is to “submit, as the Church submits to Christ” right. How does the Church submit to Christ. The Church submits by obeying the command to “love God and love one-another”. Just as Jesus loved and submitted to His Father in heaven while He was here on earth, right? All of God’s ways and commands are “holy”. They are meant always for good and never for harm or evil. Does the Church trust Her Lord? Is He trustworthy and safe? Does He protect and provide for Her? Does He look out for Her best interest? YES to all! So, Christ is WORTHY of being submitted to because of His “Agape” love for His Bride. And the Wife is treated as the Bride because she responds to that love in a natural automatic submission of respect and honor, recognizing Her life “belongs” to Her Groom (notice the capital letters).
When you have a marriage built on the Kingdom principals and controlled by the Holy Spirit it is a BEAUTIFUL picture of Christ and the Church. The husband loves his wife and treats her as extremely important to him, valuing her as a precious vessel, and does what he can to protect her and lead her spiritually and in all ways. Always being a “safe haven” for her. And the wife responds with honor and respect and submission BECAUSE she recognizes he is worthy to protect and lead and love well….(NOT PERFECTLY, for either role, of course! Had to be said here). And has her best interest at heart.
However, if this marriage is built on abuse it will reflect that abuse in “insecurity, disrespect, fear, terror, rage, violence, pain, walking on “egg shells”, silence, threats,…..FALSE LOVE AND FALSE RESPECT” And will eventually lead to a HARDNESS OF HEART. It will equal “unrepentant sin”. So, a question. Does Jesus “force” us to stay with Him if we don’t want Him anymore? NO. Does Jesus ever remove our “free will” from us? NO.
According to various places, “Hebrews, Jude, Timothy, Revelation, and others, it is POSSIBLE to “fall away from grace” to return to the “Law” and do be deceived into a hardness of heart through continuous unrepentant sin and “loose our security” in Christ. Therefore Paul warns us to guard our hearts and to not “treat the grace of God in vein”. We do not want to “shipwreck our faith” or fail to repent from known sin. There are all kinds of warnings for the Christian regarding this.
Therefore, we should not take lightly our gift of salvation and we should daily be quick to respond to the love of our Savior…and Lord. To be sure we do not harden our hearts through “loving the world” or through the deceit of sin. AND we should intervene to warn, help, and correct, any marriage which is “disguising” itself as a picture of “love and submission as Christ and the Church” when in reality it is a marriage build on ABUSE!