Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Welcome to the mystery

A LOT OF Christian teaching on marriage has a sort of Escape Room flavor to it. Not that you get to leave, but that if you can just crack the code, then you open the door to a life of endless peace and harmony. If only it were that simple.

Now, I’m not denying how helpful tips and techniques can be for everything from communication to sex. But, at the end of the day, we need more than just a bunch of life hacks.

The reality is that when we get married, we don’t sign up for an hour-long problem-solving activity, but a life-long adventure. The apostle Paul says that it’s not a puzzle you solve; it’s a mystery you get to live.

In his letter to the Ephesians, he discusses men’s and women’s roles. That includes a reference to the Genesis 2 account of Adam and Eve: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

In his next sentence he describes that process as “this mystery.” So the next time your spouse does something that leaves you mystified, rather than getting irritated, you may want to thank them for playing their part.

Most of us don’t like living with loose ends. We want everything tidied up in a nice neat bow. We want our television crime shows resolved inside an hour (with time for adverts). If we do choose a series that drags the tension out over multiple episodes, we binge-watch so we don’t have to wait too long for the resolution.

Living in mystery requires letting go of the need to know the outcome—or be in control. It requires learning to be comfortable with uncertainty and to develop curiosity. Rather than getting irritated, we inquire.

Thankfully, we don’t have to figure it all out on our own. The Greek word Paul uses for mystery is mustérion, from the root mustés, which refers to “one initiated.” Mustérion is used elsewhere in the Bible to describe the kind of understanding that can come only from God.

It’s like when Jesus quizzed the disciples on who they thought He was. Peter said that He was the Son of God, and Jesus congratulated him. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah!” Jesus told him. “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17). In other words, you didn’t work this out yourself, Peter, it was revelation from God.

In the same way, we need divine help to understand our spouses (can I get an amen?). Woven into the mystery of marriage is a design that is intended to make us need and want to press more into God ourselves. The end goal is so the two of us can become one.

Photo on Foter.com

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