Benefits of Christian Marriage

September 3, 2014

In a few months, my wife and I will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. With this milestone approaching, I have found myself thinking more and more about the benefits of participating in the institution of marriage. While there certainly are many benefits to marriage that can be experienced by believers and unbelievers alike, I have found my mind occupied with the benefits of Christian marriage. More specifically, I have been meditating on certain spiritual benefits related to the revelation of God’s character and mission that can be learned within marriage.

The idea that sanctifying knowledge of the Lord may be gained through participating in the institution of marriage is both an experiential and a logical conclusion. While the Lord employs various analogies in the Bible to reveal himself and to communicate his mission to the world, there is none more prevalent in Scripture than the husband/wife marriage analogy. This can be seen in the Old Testament use of the marital relationship to depict the God/Israel relationship and the New Testament employment of the husband/wife union to describe the Christ/church union, as well as the many passages in both the Old and New Testaments that invoke the language of sexual sin to describe a breach in the spiritual relationship that exists between God and his people.

One specific aspect of the relational dynamics of the God/believer union that may be learned through the institution of marriage is the concept of God as the husband of his people. Scripture often uses this image in describing the relationship between the Lord and his followers. For example, when addressing God’s people, the prophet Isaiah writes, “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name” (Isa. 54:5), and elsewhere, when pleading with his bride, God himself declares, “Return, O backsliding children . . . for I am married to you” (Jer. 3:14). While this revelation is available to any reader of the biblical text, it is only through participating in the institution of marriage that man can fully understand the depth of this teaching. To elaborate, within the institution of marriage, when a man feels the natural burden of being a husband (literally a “house-band”—one who holds a family together), which includes leading, protecting, and providing for his wife, it is then that he can truly appreciate the picture of God as the husband of his people. In other words, it is uniquely from within the institution of marriage that the biblical truth of God as husband can be practically realized and appreciated.


The relational dynamics of the God/believer union become even more evident when in the midst of marital difficulties—thankfully, a rarity for my wife and me—a husband embraces the biblical teaching that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). It is during times of difficulty that passages which call for a husband to display Christ-like love for his wife can have full impact. For example, when the prophet Hosea’s wife went astray, God commanded him, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel” (Hos. 3:1). Later, perhaps with the Lord’s instructions to Hosea in mind, the apostle Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). Recognition of the self-sacrifice needed in order to show love for a sinning wife—the same kind of love a sinning husband would desire to receive—can be incredibly revelatory in understanding the depth of Christ’s love for his bride, the church.

While trying circumstances are not pleasant and should not be actively sought, quite possibly it is those who experience marital difficulties who have the greatest opportunity to grasp the full truth of God as the husband of his people. Indeed, just as the only way for a husband to purify a sinning wife is through self-sacrificial love and washing with the Word of God, so the way in which Christ made possible the purification of his church was through his self-sacrifice on the cross (cf. Eph. 5:25–28). It is one thing to possess this knowledge in theory; it is quite another to gain it through the trials that are incumbent to marriage in a fallen world.

Servant Leadership

A complement to the relational dynamic of God as husband is the picture of the church as his bride. While this is not a truth about God per se, it is a corollary to the revelation of God as husband, and it informs the church how to interact properly with God. Throughout the New Testament the church is referred to as the bride of Christ, sometimes even being called the body of Christ. Moreover, as the bride, whose body is not her own, the church is frequently described as being under the authority of Christ, who is her head.

As with the doctrine of God as the husband of his people, the notion that the church is the bride of Christ is a truth accessible to any reader of Scripture. Yet, within the institution of marriage, a wife has a unique opportunity both to understand and to embrace the fullness of this teaching as she submits herself to her husband’s servant leadership. Furthermore, this aspect of the relational dynamics that exist between God and his people is available not only to wives through submission, but also to husbands who witness and benefit from such conduct. Indeed, as Peter notes, somewhat remarkably, the actions of a submissive wife may be so revelatory in regard to the character and mission of God that an unregenerate husband is won to Christ “without a word” (1 Pet. 3:1; cf. 1 Cor. 7:16).

Godly Jealousy

A final aspect of the revelation of God as husband that can be learned through the institution of marriage is the reality of divine jealousy. The Bible repeatedly communicates the fact that God is jealous for both his name and his glory. Scripture even records Moses’ command to “worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exod. 34:14). While the Lord is willing to share and give nearly all of his resources to his people, including the sacrifice of his Son, the one thing that God will not share is his glory. The prophet Isaiah reports the Lord’s declaration, “I am the Lord . . . My glory I will not give to another” (Isa. 42:8), and Jesus instructed his followers, “Pray then like this: Our Father in Heaven, let your name be kept holy. . . . For yours is the . . . glory forever” (Matt. 6:9, 13).

Given the primacy of God’s glory and name, it stands to reason that the Lord would be jealous for his people, for they are created in order to glorify his name. Indeed, this is what Scripture records as in reference to his people God proclaims, “I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy” (Zech. 8:2). Additionally, a host of passages demonstrate the truth that when the Lord’s people begin to glorify other gods, it is then that his jealousy is most clearly aroused.

Within the institution of marriage, spouses have the unique opportunity to experience relational jealousy, thereby enabling them to understand the truth of God’s husband-love for his people, as well as the intensity of divine jealousy. In fact, the potential for jealousy in marriage is so great that the Old Testament civil law contains procedures for regulating a husband’s jealousy toward his wife (cf. Num. 5:11–31).

Of course, it is possible to feel and to express relational jealousy outside the bonds of marriage, as well as to experience unrighteous jealousy within marriage. Yet, knowledge of the righteous relational jealousy described in Scripture between God and his people can best be gained through participating in the institution of marriage. Indeed, when marriage partners desire to be with their beloved and to protect the purity of their marital relationship there is great opportunity to learn about the depth of the Lord’s love for his people. Viewed from the perspective of marriage, then, passages that detail God’s righteous jealousy for his bride can potentially take on new meaning. This is all made possible through the sanctifying revelation of God that has been incorporated into the divine institution of marriage.

In conclusion, then, through being a husband—indeed, a Christian husband—for nearly two decades, my knowledge and understanding of God’s role as husband to the bride of Christ has deepened. The self-sacrifice, servant leadership, and godly jealousy I have experienced within the institution of marriage are benefits for which I am grateful. May those of us who have been called to and blessed with Christian marriages reap the benefits of this divinely designed institution, and display our individual marriages to the watching world in such a way that the marriage of the Divine Bridegroom to his people is properly revealed.

David W. Jones

Professor of Christian Ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Comments on the Bible at redeemedmind.com. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24