How you can use your marriage to share the gospel with your Muslim friend
The institute of marriage is extremely twisted in today’s world. Because of how marvelous and Christ-centered a marriage is supposed to be, the enemy directly targets this covenant relationship and tries to pervert it into something broken and of much less value.
The concept of marriage in Islam differs greatly from what God intended it to be from the beginning of creation. Islamic marriage continues to be the cause for brokenness in the spouses’ lives (especially women), the children, and entire families. The main two reasons are because Islam values the will of the husband over the wellbeing of anyone else, and it is a legal contract rather than a covenant. To learn more about what marriage looks like in Islam, read this blog post before continuing: What is marriage according to Islam?
Introducing your Muslim friend to God’s original design and intent for marriage is a great way to explain our relationship with Christ, since the Church is considered His bride. Today, we will look at one of the most well-known scriptures about marriage in the Bible, and suggest how to share this with your Muslim friend so that they can understand how Christ loves them and how they can love their spouse.
Christ and the Church - A picture for marriage
“Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are parts of His body.” Ephesians 5:22-30
You have probably read this verse before and heard some complaints about it. This passage has been misinterpreted at times to assume that a wife is supposed to obey every wish and demand of her husband, and that these verses mean she is less important or of less value than the husband within the marriage. This could not be further from the truth of how a biblical marriage looks.
The passage above from Ephesians directly follows a section titled “Be imitators of God” (in NASB 1995), which outlines how every believer in the body of Christ, man or woman, should live. Verses 20-21 say: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father; and subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.”
This thought of every believer subjecting or submitting themselves to one another is also discussed in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves…”
These principles of humility and love between believers do not only appear within a marriage, they are in fact amplified. Too many people focus on the verse about the wife’s submitting to her husband, and forget to read the directive for the husband– to consider his wife’s life more valuable than his own, just as Christ did. Yes, she is to submit, but he is to love sacrificially.
Both commands are commands of love and humility. When both parties within a marriage do this, they flourish. It is a constant cycle of giving and selflessness that allows for true intimacy, love, and growth.
How to introduce your Muslim friend to a new understanding about marriage
Two main biblical teachings stand out when you discuss marriage with your Muslim friend.
Marriage as a covenant, not a contract
From the beginning, God set up marriage as a covenant relationship. There are many benefits of marriage being a covenant relationship. Contracts can be amended, terminated, and broken. A covenant is a form of relationship that has existed from the beginning of time, in Genesis 1 and 2. Christians entering into a covenant together, and not just a contractual “civil marriage,” takes off the pressure of worrying about divorce.
Explaining this key difference in marriage structure to your Muslim friend takes delicateness. You don’t want to belittle their marriage or the marriage of their parents. Instead, focus on the spiritual indications we can take from it and apply to our relationship with God. We are able to enter a covenant with God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and God will never break that covenant with us!
In comparison, your Muslim friend’s marriage is built on a contract between the spouse; it includes the dowry paid by the groom, the amount paid at the time of divorce, and any requirements or conditions they add. An example would be that the husband must inform the wife of his intention to have a second wife otherwise this contract will be nullified, or the wife will request a specific number of years where the husband will provide for her if he ever divorce her.
Marriage is built on humility and love
Your Muslim friend has most likely not seen a marriage relationship that is built upon humility and love the way the Bible outlines it, because their understanding of marriage is entirely different. Islam teaches that women are not equals with their husbands, and that a husband may lie to his wife to prevent a fight or divorce. A husband may marry up to 4 wives at the same time, and he even has the option to discipline or beat his wife according to the Quran. (Quran 4:34)
It is only through a relationship with Christ that a marriage can be all that it is intended to be, because the way Christ has loved us is exactly how we are called to love our spouses.
Start an open an honest conversation with your Muslim friend by asking them questions:
- What do you believe a marriage is supposed to look like?
- Did you know that according to the Bible, both husband and wife sacrificially love one another?
- The relationship between husband and wife is supposed to be a mirror of Christ’s love for us. I would love to tell you more about how Jesus loves you.
Be sure to be sensitive to your Muslim friend’s experiences with marriage. Your Muslim friend might be married to a partner they love. They might be married to a spouse who abuses them. Your friend might never want to be married, because they have seen a broken marriage in their parents’ relationship. Introducing your friend to Christ can introduce them to a new way to love others.
Pray and ask God to give you the words to speak into your Muslim friend’s current situation. You will be surprised how curious they might be to learn about a marriage structure that is built upon sacrificial love and not power.
Dear Lord, thank you for giving me an example of how to love others. Please bless my marriage, and show me how I can be humble in love. Allow my conversations with my Muslim friend to point them to you and your love! Amen.