We are discussing marriage by examining the recent book of John Piper’s called This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.
Piper connects marriage to justification and to forgiveness. For marriage to “display God” the husband and the wife are to live vertically with God and then to bend that forgiveness and grace out toward the other.
The foundation for this approach to marriage is that marriage is a “mystery” of Christ and the Church. In that Christ’s relationship to the church is one of grace, marriage is a display of that grace. So, Piper gets into both God’s wrath and double imputation and how redemption works — and that the marriage is to display that kind of grace.
It is important to quote what Paul does say here in Ephesians 5.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
John Piper’s wife, Noël, tells John that he cannot emphasize [enough, sorry for that omission] that marriage is a model of Christ and the church, and that is connected to the self-giving, purifying giving of Christ. Forgiveness is required in marriages. Because of redemption — and he draws here from Col 3:12 on “chosen,” “holy,” and “loved,” we are to put on the virtues of grace (like compassion and kindness and on to forbearance and forgiveness). Forbearance acknowledges that hurts genuinely bother us and forgiveness means relating in spite of the hurts. Piper tells how he and his wife have a “compost pile” image where they toss the “cow pies” of hurts and wounds.
Grace not only forgives; it empowers to change — and that is the focus of his next chp. Grace transforms us into agents of grace.