Ray Ortlund on the Ancient Design for Modern Marriage

Since I’ve been reading much about marriage for the purposes of studying Ephesians 5:22-33, it only fits to share a longer quotation from one of those readings. In both of my previous sermons to wives and husbands, I’ve already cited Ray Ortlund’s book, Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel, and I plan to end this coming sermon with another passage from his book. If you are looking for a short but very thoughtful book on marriage, look no further. He keeps the book both very basic and very profound, much like marriage itself.

The following paragraph is simply one of the many extended highlights that I made while reading.

At our moment in time and culture, far advanced in the downward slide of Adam’s fall, we today might find the head-with-helper arrangement between husband and wife incomprehensibly foreign. We might desire to replace it with strict mutuality, as if man and woman were interchangeable. But a forced blending of gender identities and roles tends toward a more calculating, hair-splitting political settlement. Biblical complementarity is the arrangement most conducive to being swept away into a wildly glorious romance. Moreover, before we give up on God’s design as unworkable, we must understand that all aspects of manhood and womanhood, with marriage and sex and intimacy—these now fragile glories of human existence, were not created for this broken world. They were created for a perfect world, a safe world, far from our own, and are now brutalized and vandalized, partly by being misjudged. My iPhone, for example, is amazing communications technology. And that is what human sexuality is—amazingly sophisticated communications technology. But if I use my iPhone to hammer nails, I will damage it. It was never built to hammer nails. It was built for something far more gentle, and the more effective for being gentle. The only arrangement for sex and marriage that has any chance of working today is that which moves toward restoring our Edenic origins. If we modern Western egalitarians can hold our emotional horses long enough to imagine how a woman might be dignified by helping a worthy man who loves her sacrificially, as both the man and the woman humbly pursue the glory of God together, the profile of man and woman that blessed us in Eden will start looking more plausible as an approach to human happiness today.

pp. 23-24

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