It’s compelling how the unity between a husband and wife serves as a perfect model for how our relationship with Christ should be. Quite often in the scriptures we read about the church being called the bride and Jesus being called the bridegroom. Why would the Lord use marriage as the example of how He looks at His church? It is beneficial to first examine the roles and functions of both parties in a marriage to see the symbolism.
The first intimation of the wife’s role we read in scripture is of course Eve in Genesis. She was made from Adam so she was essentially a part of him. She became a companion to a once lonely Adam. It’s important to notice that the direct command to not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was given to Adam. We could speculate that Adam then relayed the same command to Eve. This shows that the man has a natural order of headship in the marital roles.
Adam was created first and then Eve from Adam. This simple truth reveals that a man is the protector and provider by nature. Eve was first deceived and there is a reason why the serpent approached instead of Adam. The question often asked is “Where was Adam during the provocation?” Regardless of the answer, we see that he was not vocal during the conversation between the serpent and Eve. In the modern world, headship is often viewed as chauvinism. The scriptures are clear in distinction regarding functionality in the marital roles:
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
The question is, why is the wife considered the weaker vessel? 1 Timothy 2:14 reads; “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
Here we see that is was Eve who was deceived by the serpent. As a result of her transgression, she was then ordered to be subservient unto her husband.
Genesis 3:16 declared that the husband would rule over the wife. Similar to Eve, we as the body of Christ have been deceived over and over prior to our salvation and prove to be the weaker party in the relationship with Christ. We are called to submit to Him as the wife is to the husband. The husband is charged to love his wife as Christ loved the church.
This exemplifies a distinct love that is willing to sacrifice, endure, teach, lead, and protect. So as the husband rules over the wife, so does Christ over His church. The great revelation is this—neither party’s adherence to their roles are contingent upon the other’s compliance. This means that there was no “if” factor applied when the Lord laid out the roles of each party. The text doesn’t read husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church if your wife obeys you. It also didn’t say wives obey your husbands only if they love you as Christ loved the church. These roles are to obeyed regardless.
Just as Christ’s love is unconditional, so should ours be in our marriages. Intimacy and oneness are two factors that must be present for any marriage to succeed. Days and weeks should not pass without communication and intimacy. When each party looks at the other as themselves, love abounds and the two become one in all ways. This is why the Lord used such a great analogy to show His love toward His bride, the church.