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We All With Unveiled Face (Part 1)

3 January, 2010

Read II Corinthians 3.  Now, read Ephesians 5:25-33.  I am about to tread onto soil that I admittedly know very little about, but bear with me; those that know more than I do about this topic, feel very much free to comment/correct me.  The overarching goal in this is not to define marriage, but to draw out the gospel in something to which we all relate.  Defining marriage is secondary, and it is solely for my personal thought process, not to be taken as what I think everyone should agree upon.

This passage in Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth comes just after Paul has given all sorts of explanation, encouragement, and exhortation to the church.  At the beginning of chapter 3, Paul states, “such is the confidence that we have though Christ toward God.  Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.  For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  Same as Paul, none of my sufficiency to understand this text comes from myself, only from God.  What I want to focus on, in these posts, is the link between the Old Covenant, the New Covenant, the veil, and the institution of marriage.  Marriage is not a topic derived implicitly or explicitly in this passage, so know that this will probably be mostly isogesis instead of exegesis.  For everything there is a season.

What correlation, you ask, could there be between the Mosaic Law, the Spiritual Covenant confirmed in Jesus Christ, and marriage?  I admit that I probably would not have even stumbled upon this thought process had it not been for the mention of the veil of Moses when he came down from the mountain with the law, and the imagery of that veil being lifted.  All of that imagery and allegory forced a comparison in my mind between the ministry of death, the ministry of the Spirit, a man and a woman’s relationship before marriage, and their relationship during marriage.

We will see marriage defined implicitly below, but I must start with a swift Biblical definition of marriage.  Click on the links to see the Bible references (links highlighted red).  Marriage was instituted by God upon creation as a spiritual and physical relationship between one man and one woman.  Marriage was secured lawfully in the Ten Commandments.  Lawfully, punishment was established for desecration of marriage.  As you read in the above link to Ephesians 5, marriage is also an allegory to Christ and the church.

That said, I am about to embark on a mission to try to put thoughts, which have been swimming in my head for a few days, to type.  Forgive me where I lack attention-grabbing skills.

First, let us behold what II Corinthians 3 is talking about.  It is addressing various degrees of glory, and using the example of the Old Covenant, or the “ministry of death” and the New Covenant, or the “ministry of the Spirit.”  These two ministries are both forms of one love relationship: God and man.  In a loving relationship between man and woman, I see two distinct phases: friendship/engagement and marriage.  This is the basis for the analogy I am trying to create.  Behold, in SAT form, ministry of death : ministry of the Spirit :: engagement : marriage

The Two Ministries
Just as there are two ways man could theoretically be justified in his relationship with God, there are two components to marriage.  There is the lawful binding of marriage, which is strictly physical, and there is the spiritual covenant of marriage, which is both physical and spiritual.  A man and a woman may call themselves married if they are lawfully married, but the case may be that they are lawfully married and not spiritually married.  In Genesis the spiritually physical marriage was initiated, but because of the Fall, a marriage law was necessary so that man could see exactly what marriage is supposed to look like, despite the cloudiness of the institution that is caused by sin.  So God’s plan is for the law of marriage (which encompasses much very much– engagement, government, covenants, rules) to point to the purity of spiritual union (holy matrimony, if you will).
The ministry of death was strictly physical, but it directed God’s people to put their faith in His coming Messiah, who would fulfill the Law.  The ministry of the Spirit is not strictly spiritual.  It is founded on the faith that Jesus physically and spiritually bore the wrath of God for a person before the foundation of the world, and that His blood will physically and spiritually wipe away our sins at our coming Judgment.  The importance of the ministry of death is that it was always coming to an end.  Jesus Christ fulfilled everything that the law had ever required of man.  It is important to remember that Jesus’ death was not God’s second-try at the redemption of man, but the ministry of death was necessary in order for the ministry of the Spirit to be adequate to redeem man.  In the same way, lawful marriage is a representation of the perfection of spiritual marriage.  Man and woman can pretend to be spiritually married, acting out all the physical aspects of marriage, but never truly be married in the way that God planned marriage.  Fulfilling part of the law, but not all of it, is still disobedience.  Certainly fulfilling none of the law is also disobedience.  Disobedience to God’s will is never glorifying to God, or blessed by God.
So we see why the ministry of death is the ministry of death. Because disobeying part (one iota) of the law is punishable by death, and the wrath of God for all eternity.  In the same way, a couple trying to fulfill only the lawful requirements of marriage is certain to fail.  I have confidence in this fact because I am am male, and Jesus said that if I have ever looked at a woman with lust (doesn’t differentiate between unregenerate and regenerate man) then I have committed adultery with her in my heart.  So there we have it, I have already broken the law of marriage between myself and any woman, therefore I lawfully deserve to never marry.
It is a good thing that there is a ministry of the Spirit.  And a very good thing that it was promised before hand.  Otherwise the Israelite people would have had no hope of redemption, and I would have no hope of a wife.

I started this post with the intention of briefly covering seven parallels that I see between the covenants of God with man and the covenants of man with woman.  Because this first point was so long, I have decided to break it up into different installments, so be on the lookout for these coming up:

The Glory of That Which is Coming to an End
The Promised End of That Which is Coming to an End

The Glory of That Which is Everlasting
The Necessary Gracious Redemption

The Veil
The Lifting of The Veil

Don’t be too overwhelmed.  There is a distinct possibility I will try to cover two in one day sometimes.  I will also post the links on Facebook.

If you read this far, you’re a pal.  Thanks for listening!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeremy permalink
    4 January, 2010 05:12

    Didn’t even know you had a blog until today. I never realized the parallel between the Old Covenant and engagement/pre-marriage. Keep it coming.

  2. mom permalink
    8 January, 2010 16:34

    This post affirms for me that you are “a letter from Christ”, the result of the ministry that has been poured into your life by Godly men and women, but even more by Christ Himself as you read, study and meditate on His Word. The Spirit of the LIVING God has written on your heart and now you are blessing those who read your blog.
    Thank-You for linking the Bible Gateway references. I have my Bible open as I read your post, but the links help alot too.
    In this post, I was amazed as I read the Leviticus law that God does indeed know how wretched we are capable of being and that all the current perversion in this world is no surprise to Him. I think some people think they can “out-rebel” God.
    On to the next post!

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