Dear Young Engaged Man,
I finally saw the engagement pictures of you and your fiancee. You both look dashing if for no other reason than it is uncontrollably obvious you are both in love. I smiled as I saw the shot of you bowing the knee with ring in hand. Even through the tears, you couldn’t have looked happier.
I recently read an essay by the reformer Martin Luther and a couple of paragraphs caught my eye in light of your recent photos. He connects the gospel to marriage in a way that I had not considered before.
Luther notices that when a couple becomes one flesh, they fully give themselves to each other. The wife gives everything she has to her husband and the husband gives everything she has to the wife.
Our union with Christ is similar. Everything we have (which is sin, shame, guilt and death) becomes Christ’s and everything He has (which is purity, holiness, freedom and life) becomes ours.
“The third incomparable grace through faith is this, that is unites the soul to Christ, as the wife to the husband; by which mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul are made one flesh. Now if they are one flesh, and if a true marriage, then it follows that all they have becomes theirs in common, as well good things as evil things; so that whatsoever Christ possesses, that the believing soul may take to itself and boast of as its own, and whatever belongs to the soul, that Christ claims as His.”
This is the sweet exchange that Luther is talking about: “If I have sinned, my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned; all mine is His, and all His is mine; as it is written, “My beloved is mine, and I am His.””
All of our sins becomes Christ`s and all of His righteousness becomes ours. Many people only think of the gospel as providing forgiveness, but the gospel also gives us the righteous state of Jesus. (2 Cor 5:23) His perfect life becomes our life and our sinful life became His on the cross. This forgiveness and righteousness is only obtained by “the wedding ring of faith.”
Your marriage will not be based on conditions of works. She will not submit a list of good deeds to you at the alter. You may pour sand into a jar, but you will not weigh scales. You will not swap resumes but you will exchange rings. She became your fiancée and wife by a simple pledge of faith.
“Thus the believing soul, by the pledge of its faith in Christ, becomes free from all sin, fearless of death, safe from hell, and endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of its husband Christ.”
Brother, as she takes your hand in faith, take the hand of Christ by faith. Pledge your life to him trusting not in your good works or good intentions but only in His perfect life and saving death.
Christ did not buy you with a mere precious metal, but with His own precious blood.
Celebrate your proposal and ponder the greater privilege of being united to Christ.
To conclude with Luther, “Who then can value enough these royal nuptuals? Who can comprehend the riches of the glory of this grace?”