I shared this message, with some minor corrections, on the wedding day of Bruce and Bing Ceniza, last May 21, 2012, at the beautiful beachfront of Costabella Resort, Mactan, Cebu.
Bruce and Bing, it seemed like yesterday when the two of you met each other. Now, you are going to be joined together in this divine mystery called marriage.
I’d like to tell you that marriage is an action word. You have to act on it. You have to work on it for the rest of your lives.
I’d like to share with you three acts of marriage based on the Word of God.
First, Marriage is Giving Sacrificial Love.
In Eph. 5:25, Paul said, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.” He then explained how Christ showed this love. Paul said that Christ “gave himself for” the church. He sacrificed himself on the cross.
This love therefore is a self-sacrificial love. It is a self-sacrificial love that is rooted on the cross. Love then is a self-giving love patterned after the cross.
Paul does not define love as a rush of romantic hormones. Instead, love here is the self-sacrifice of yourself for your beloved. It is a decision to nail your selfishness to the cross, so to speak, while giving your love to the one you love. It is a decision to give up your selfishness for the sake of the one you love. This is the kind of love that you should love each other.
Notice that love here is not conditional or situational. You should love each other, not because he or she gives you pleasure, but because you want to give yourself up to each other. I’ve been reading about a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. She does not recognize her husband. She can give no romance, no sex, no laughter, no tears, and no companionship to her husband.
But that is the point of marriage. The point of marriage is not to love each other because each is useful to the other. The point of marriage is to love each other with self-sacrificial love unconditionally.
When I got married, I was dreaming about a woman who would massage me when I get home. I wanted a woman who will cook good food for me. I wanted a woman who would be “carinyosa” to me. Until now, I’m still dreaming.
But I still love the woman I married.
The time may come when he no longer excites you, when her manners offend you, when she is not the person of your dreams. But then you will love each other, not because she is useful to you, but because you want to sacrifice yourself for her.
Love is giving yourself up for each other. That is how Christ loved the church. And that is how you should love each other.
Second, Marriage is Keeping Covenant.
In Eph. 5:31, Paul quotes Gen. 2:24, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” Then he interprets it in v. 32, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” In the marriage of Christ and the church, Christ is spiritually united with the church as His bride and body.
But what kind of relationship is the union of Christ and the church? It is a covenant relationship. It is a covenant relationship sealed with blood—His own blood. Christ said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Lk. 22:20).
That is what Paul is saying in Eph. 5:32. Marriage is based on that covenant relationship between Christ and the church. It is a covenant sealed in blood.
This means that the marriage covenant is unbreakable, as John Piper points out. As Christ’s covenant with the church is unbreakable, so is the marriage covenant also unbreakable.
Marriage, therefore, is keeping covenant, to use Piper’s words. Marriage is not just about keeping the fire of love burning. It is about keeping covenant.
Therefore, when the day comes when you will fight each other, and it will come, remember that your marriage is keeping covenant. Bruce, when you look at another woman, remember that marriage is keeping covenant. Bing, when you look at another man, remember that marriage is keeping covenant. When the day comes when he is not as exciting as he used to be, or she is not as sexy as she used to be, remember, marriage is about keeping covenant.
Never allow anyone or anything to break that covenant. Your purpose in marriage is to keep the covenant.
Third, and last, Marriage is Seeking Your Happiness in Her Happiness.
Eph. 5:26-27, Paul said that Christ gave Himself for the church, so that He can sanctify her and present her spotless. In other words, Christ sought His satisfaction in the sanctification of His bride, the church. He was most satisfied in the spotlessness of His beloved. Practically speaking, you should seek your joy in the joy of your beloved.
Bruce, you will find your happiness when Bing is happiest. So find your happiness by trying to make her happy! The problem with so many marriages today is that the husband seeks his own happiness, but he does not seek it in the happiness of his wife. The wife seeks her own happiness, but not in the happiness of her husband. But love seeks its happiness in the happiness of the beloved.
Yet the key to seeking her happiness is the sacrifice of your selfishness. When you sacrifice your selfishness, you will seek her happiness. When you seek her happiness, you will be happy. You will be most happy when your beloved is most happy.
I share your joy on your special day today. Wedding days are always joyful days. God has made it so.
Beloved, let us all rejoice, then, as we join this loving couple on their day of marriage.