It’s fair to say all of us have heard a husband or wife say they are married to their best friend. If not, well...now you have.
In greater frequency I'm going to the dictionary to find definitions of words that are key to what I’m speaking or writing about. Seems like a reasonable thing to do. The Merriam-Webster dictionary has changed over the years. Single word definitions are no longer the only words defined in those dictionaries.
So I looked up “best friend” in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary to find this: “a person's closest or dearest friend." The word ‘dearest’ is what jumped out at me.
I asked myself, is my wife (Julie) my dearest friend? Which prompted another question; Shouldn’t she be? My immediate answer was, Yes. Duh!
A Track Change on my Train of Thought
I used to mentally bristle at the idea of being married to your best friend. Seemed like an insulting idea to my relationship with Jesus Christ. He above all others should be my one and only best friend. Period.
Oh how legalistic of me. Bear with me, if you’re wondering if I’m not off the rails.
I now believe differently. But this was a shift in belief based on prayer, thought and biblical review -- and a discussion with my bride.
I asked Julie what a best friend is to her. She named the following items:
Know each other (fully)
No judgement (of each other)
Have fun (child-like) together
Unconditional love for one another
Sounds a bit like our right relationship with Jesus doesn’t it? That convinced me that husband and wife cannot just be 'best friends', but in reality should be each other's best friends.
Marriage as Jesus sees it
Here’s the truth about marriage as we view it the reflection of Jesus Christ’s relationship with the church. Marriage is the only relationship between human beings that is designed to fully reflect the relationship Jesus has with His bride, the Church.
In Ephesians 5:25, 31-32 the Apostle Paul writes: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
As I think about and process these verses I see a relationship between two “closest and dearest” friends. Two ideas that are key to draw out in the previous sentence are relationship and closest. Jesus went to the cross to heal a broken relationship between mankind and God the Father.
Let's unpack verse 31 of Ephesians 5 by looking at a few key words:
“will leave” means: abandon
“hold fast” means: to glue, adhere
“to” means: with
“his” means: his, she, they, them, same
“wife” means: woman, my lady
“will become” means: exist, purpose
“flesh” means: human nature, kindred
With these words further defined from the original greek language verse 31 could read this way:
Eph 5:31 “Therefore a man will abandon his father and mother and adhere with she my lady and the two exist as one human nature.” (Dan W. version)
There is also no one closer to the Christian than God the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Men, I’m speaking to you for a few sentences. Your wife is the only other person called a suitable “helper’ in Scripture other than the Holy Spirit.
Men, we have the responsibility and honor to carry the image of Christ in our marriage relationship. We are the bridegroom in our marriage as Jesus is to the church.
Did that realization just about knock you over? If not, it maybe should at least grab your undivided attention.
Attention wives (for a minute)
In Ephesians 5:22-24 the Apostle Paul writes to wives: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
The Apostle Paul is not saying women are inferior, less valuable than men, less intelligent, capable or any such value based idea. He is also not giving us men permission to boss our wives around, or they are a doormat of any kind.
God has assigned men and women equal value, access to the kingdom of God but also has given men and women different roles and responsibilities. Wives and (women) you are co-heirs of the grace, the same grace of Christ. Your value exceeds any precious jewel on earth!
As Jesus Christ has demonstrated He is worthy of being fully trusted, so men we as husbands following His example need to be of such integrity that when a tough decision needs to be made our wives can trust us to lead well. Are we perfect as Jesus is? Nope, yet we are called to lead in that same submissive relationship with God as Jesus did.
That puts duty on us as men to lead wisely and wives to trust fully in the mirrored image of Christ following the lead of God the Father.
This takes two of the closest and dearest friends who have a profound trust of one another. Husband and wife of one human nature, glued together in Christ Jesus.
Yes, we can and should be married to our best friends.
A few closing musings
A covenant is a big deal. God made covenants with Moses, Israel and Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of a new and eternal covenant with His brothers, sisters and between God and His children. That covenant was signed, sealed and delivered through the blood of Jesus the Christ.
Marriage is also a covenant. A covenant shaped and mirrored in Christ’s relationship with the church.
Let’s stop here and define what a “covenant” between God and mankind is: “A covenant is an unchangeable , divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.” (from Grudem's Systematic Theology)
In Malachi 2 marriage is referred to directly as a covenant. Therefore we see marriage in light of the above covenant definition. This means we as husbands and wives do not get to set the terms of this covenant. God does and has.
This is not oppressive, but freeing! As in Christian living, there is great freedom in life in Christ so it is with marriage. Come on now...this is great news!
God gives to husband and wife each other's best friend. This makes the relationship not merely a 'her and me' arrangement, but an us or we adventure.
Just writing this article has changed the way I view our 36 year marriage union and covenant. My lady of one human nature and I have the joyous privilege to mirror His love for the church, the bridegroom.
So has Christ given to you in your marriage!
Wow! How cool is that!