God doesn’t immediately reveal the mystery of the gospel in marriage. Humanity lives in the shadows until Jesus breaks into the story (Gal 3:28). I love how the angels proclaim His arrival, “‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Lk 2:14). That singular announcement is pregnant with hope. “The Hero is here!” He lives, dies, rises, and ascends. He declares covenantal terms of peace from God through justification by faith (Eph 2:13-16, Col 1:19-20, Rom 5:1-2).
The kingdom of God breaks into the now but not fully. Enter Paul. As he emphasizes our responsibilities within our homes (Eph 5), he reveals a mystery. Marriage has always been about the gospel. Tim Keller reminds us, “The Bible begins and ends with a marriage.” Marriage has never been ultimate. Jesus reminds the Sadducees of that when he rebukes them for their unbelief concerning the resurrection (Matt 22:23-33). This revelation reminds me of watching The Sixth Sense. You are watching. The kid sees dead people. Distractions. Until the reveal: “Bruce Willis is dead!? Oh my goodness, he’s dead.” Now the bare command to “love your neighbor” intensifies in our homes. It’s pulsating with resurrected life. The perversion and abuse of the image of God looks even more monstrous. How dare we pervert and twist the beauty of the gospel. It’s revolting.
Whatever your hang up may be, complementarianism doesn’t leave room for abusers and perverts. Jesus Christ, as head of the Church and the focal point of gender roles in the gospel story, chops the head off that dragon. He anchors every thing we do and say concerning gender roles. Complementarianism is Christocentric.
There’s more than a handful of excellent exegetical, practical, and polemic resources for the complementarian position, but let’s nail it down where it hurts—in our homes. Let’s throw our weight behind gospeling our homes (Deut 6:4-9). James reminds us talk is cheap (Jas 2:14-17). Spirit-born faith creates Spirit-born love that acts. Let’s rid ourselves of dead theology instead mirroring deep and wide gospel piety within our homes. Our mission starts there.
The story doesn’t end with the cross. Jesus returns for His Bride and fully restores the image of God in her. He has been preparing her for the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:16-18, 1 Cor 13:12).
He returns to feast with her (Rev 19:6-10). In one sense, He fully consummates the marriage on that day. Until then, let’s allow the beauty and joy of our sexuality remind us the story is coming to an end. More specifically, every time a man and a woman covenant together in marriage and unite as one flesh, they shadow the final consummation of all things.8 For singles, when you submit your sexuality to Jesus, you shadow a faithful bride waiting for her bridegroom. Together we shadow the full reality of our union with Christ in the not yet. It’s a beautiful inclusion as we echo the “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:22) in the Garden and point to the hope of our final consummation.
G. K. Beale in The Temple and the Church’s Mission describes Eden as the “first archetypal temple.” In Revelation 21, we have the final eschatological temple as the Bride of Christ. “The shadow of covenant-keeping between husband and wife gives way to the reality of covenant-keeping between Christ and His glorified Church. Nothing is lost. The music of every pleasure is transposed into an infinitely higher key.”
A story beautifully crafted and told—not “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The gospel molds our identities as men and women while pointing forward to our final hope in Jesus Christ. It restores the original image in mankind. We are now new creatures in Christ but we are not now what we will fully be in the end.
Mathew Sims is the author of A Household Gospel Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and also writes for CBMW Men’s blog, Gospel Centered Discipleship, and Servants of Grace. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel Centered Discipleship. They attend Downtown Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Greenville, SC.