In a recent “Ask Pastor John” episode, John Piper gave Christ-centered advice to newly-wed husbands. The renowned Christian author and former pastor relayed key guidance that he would have given a younger version of himself when entering into the life-long covenant with his wife, Noel. “Behold the mystery of this amazing, God-wrought union,” he would have said.
Piper reminded listeners that Mark 10:9 calls marriage an act of God which joins man and wife together – it is not a man-made union. Marriage was instituted long before Christ had come into the world, and was created by God to point to His Son’s future redemptive work on the cross. While many may look at Jesus’ covenant with His bride, the church, and describe marriage as it relates to Christ, Piper says that it should be the other way around; God used the picture of marriage to hint at a future relationship for Christ and His church. Marriage came first so that the body of believers could better understand their intimate, covenanted relationship with Christ – one that is given to them by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:1-9).
A “bottomless ocean of wisdom” is found when a husband loves his wife like Christ loves the church - “You love her to make her lovely,” Piper said. Though we are sinners saved by His grace, Jesus loves His redeemed people and helps us to become more holy as we fix our eyes on Him. We are sanctified more and more as we journey with our God, eternally clothed in Christ’s righteousness. “You don’t love her merely because she is lovely – she’s not going to be as 20-something lovely at 70-something, so you had better love her into loveliness,” said Piper. He also advised husbands to draw their strength to love their wives well from Christ’s love for them.
The former pastor also encouraged husbands to bring hope and strength to their families, welling up in them from the power of Christ. He warned against idolatry - viewing their wives or their children as their means to find happiness. He also steered husbands away from returning hurt for hurt in an argument - “a soft answer may restore her soul,” he said, paraphrasing Proverbs 15:1.
In closing, Piper encouraged married couples to savor the intimacy and friendship that is unique to marriage; ultimately, though, he wants to remind newly-weds marriage is a “parable” which points to Christ.