The following is a window into how proper interpretation of Scripture impacts everything in life, including the way we think about our marriages. Remove marriage in the following paragraphs and plug in any other issue in life, and the way to rightly understand that issue through the lens of Scripture is helpfully explained by Tripp:
“We mistakenly treat the Bible as if it (was) arranged by topic-you know, the world’s best compendium of human problems and divine solutions. So when we’re thinking about marriage, we run to all the marriage passages. But the Bible isn’t an encyclopedia; it is a story, the great origin-to-destiny story of redemption. In fact, it is more than a story. It is a theologically annotated story. It is a story with God’s notes. This means that we cannot understand what the Bible has to say about marriage by looking only at the marriage passages, because there is a vast amount of biblical information about marriage not found in the marriage passages.
In fact, we could argue, to the degree that every portion of the Bible tells us things about God, about ourselves, about life in this present world, and about the nature of the human struggle and the divine solution, to that degree every passage in the Bible is a marriage passage. Every passage imparts to us insight that is vital for a proper understanding of the passages that directly address marriage, and every passage tells us what we should expect as we deal with the comprehensive relationship of marriage. One of our problems is that we have not used the Bible biblically, and this has set us up for surprises we shouldn’t have had (due to unrealistic expectations in the marriage; crb).” — Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect?, pp. 16-17
I would add that every portion doesn’t simply tell us things about God and ourselves, but more specifically is telling us something about Jesus and something related to his redemption of a people for himself. Tripp is dead on with the relationship between how we read our Bibles and life issues that confront us. And as Tripp is pointing out, few life issues are more “right here and right now” than marriage. Few life issues have been more “moralized” in the text than marriage, including those who’ve attempted to ground in the Bible what they teach about marriage. The Bible was never intended to be simply a handbook. Ephesians 5:21ff, as important as it is, isn’t a bullet-pointed powerpoint presentation on the marriage. Ephesians 5:21ff (and other passages like it) is connected to the storyline of the Bible (and, in fact, is providing interpretation of that storyline).
We cannot rightly understand what the Bible says about marriage unless we understand marriage as part of the storyline of the Bible. Before it is a handbook, it is a story in which I find my own redemptive-historical drama played out in front of my eyes, interpreting my circumstances through an Event that placed me in the storyline. My sin, my epic fails in my marriage (and thus, its Christ-centered resolutions) are not simply explained to me and for me, but “storied” for me in the revelation of the Divine Drama. I’m in the story because I am in Christ, the Story Maker and Story Keeper. Christ is all over the text bringing my story (our story) to life, giving that story its fullest meaning.