Christian Marriage and the Incarnation

I figured since Hannah and I have been married almost three weeks now, that I am in the position of writing on all things marriage. [1]One of the benefits of getting married right near Christmas time was that, had it not been my wedding, I may not have thought about the connection. My contention is that Christian marriage (and every other part of the Christian life) is intimately tied to the incarnation of our Lord. The incarnation, in a way, summarizes the Christian gospel.

Jesus Christ came to earth in a body. He added to his deity humanity, as Augustine was wont to put it. He took on flesh and blood, becoming like us in all things. He partook of our nature; he put it on.[2] This fact is one that characterizes the distinction between Christianity and other religions. Christians do not follow lofty, irrelevant metaphysical commands. We are not following after a mystical aura, striving to fulfill some Noble Truths off on their own, or seeking to satisfy an estranged deity that got all this started who, by the way, is pretty angry.  Christianity is about following the God who became like us in all things, sin excluded. Jesus came, in flesh and blood, and calls us to follow him. Jesus got dirt under his fingernails. Jesus wept.

In All Things Pattern

The Christian life, therefore, is not one where there is a disconnect between the creature and the Creator; the Christian God is a personal God. [3] Everything we do is patterned after Jesus, after God’s own character. Christian marriage, it occurred to me, is no different. [4] “But Jesus was never married!” I can hear someone reply. Well, actually Jesus is married—or betrothed, if you want to look at it that way, to his Church. Jesus is bound by covenant to his people, and the Christian marriage is patterned after that. We follow Jesus in faithfulness, in obedience, and in everything. All the while knowing that this God who took on flesh, calls us in the flesh to take on him through the covenant. As Athanasius once wrote, “He, indeed, assumed humanity that we might become God. He manifested Himself by means of a body in order that we might perceive the Mind of the unseen Father. He endured shame from men that we might inherit immortality.” [5] The incarnation, then, becomes a pattern for Christian marriage. As a husband, I must die to myself, that my spouse may have life. Just like Jesus did for me.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. In case you are new around here, that was sarcasm.
  2. Hebrews 2:14-18.
  3. This comes, of course, with the recognition of the infinite otherness of the creature and the Creator. He is God and we are not.
  4. Ephesians 5:22-32
  5. Quote from On the Incarnation, section54. Cf. 2 Peter 1:4 for a biblical understanding of what Athanasius means by “we might become God.”
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2 Responses to Christian Marriage and the Incarnation

  1. Sean says:

    Dear Zachary, this was a pretty good read. I enjoyed the middle paragraph especially. I thought you tied together scripture, wit, and a little criticism together quite nicely. Thanks for this it’s really inspiring

  2. abbie. says:

    i like this. God’s so cool that He would condescend (in the best way possible) to do this for us.

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