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Self-isolation may be the ‘hot topic’ at the moment as a fear of the corona virus spreads over the world, but in our series on ‘Connections’ today, we looked at the subject of marriage and the family – probably our closest horizontal connections on earth.

For centuries, Christian marriage was seen as the bedrock of society, but over the past fifty years or so, that view has been increasingly challenged, and nowadays there is a sense in which equality and diversity are seen as being more important than anything God may have to say about marriage and family. Anything goes as far as family relationships are concerned and the traditional Christian view that marriage should be between a man and a woman, involving vows, as the only sanctified place for sexual activity, is under attack.

Nonetheless, we affirm the Biblical view of marriage, based on an understanding of Genesis 2 and the high place Jesus Himself placed on marriage (see Matt 19). Marriage is not only a physical union but is meant to mirror the love God has for the church; God uses the metaphor of marriage to demonstrate to us something of unconditional, everlasting love. We cannot simply dismiss God’s views of marriage and the family without ending up on a road that does not lead to happiness (see Prov 14:12).

Paul addresses this subject in Eph 5:21-33, reminding us that the advice he gives to us is based on the mystery of the marriage between Christ and the church. Love, submission and obedience are key words to building successful family relationships, but the context for these is the selfless love of Christ, who gave Himself for us (see 1 John 4:8-10). Only as we learn to love others more than ourselves and walk the narrow path of self-denial (see Phil 2:3-4, Mark 8:34-36) can we build relationships that honour God and lead to mutual edification.

There is hope for us when we fail (as we so often do), for God offers us hope and a second chance, but we must move from the ‘blame game’ to accepting our responsibility in all relationships and turning to God in repentance. Only when that vertical connection is fully established and we receive God’s love can we hope to love others as He does. God’s plan was always that our relationship with Him would so influence all our relationships that others would see and know that He is God. May our earthly marriages, families and relationships reflect His love and forgiveness, showing others there’s always hope and always the chance for restoration and a second chance.