For months, I have felt prompted to write about marriage. With just over 3 years of “marital bliss” under my belt, nervousness about what women may say has caused me to bridle my tongue.
She’s too young. She doesn’t understand what she’s talking about.
But I’m reminded that regardless of my age, I am still called to be obedient when God lays something on my heart. With every heartbreaking divorce I witness, the weight of what he’s put there increases.
And so I write.
Your Truth Is My Truth
As I approach this touchy subject I’m fully aware that I do not understand each person’s struggles or trials they face within their marriage. I won’t pretend to know how you feel or the pain you’ve experienced.
What I do understand, is that the truth about marriage is found in God’s Word and that truth, however hard it may be, doesn’t change. It’s true for me in my marriage and true for you in yours.
God doesn’t cater his precepts to hard circumstances. Whether your marriage is in shambles or on cloud nine, obedience to the Lord is still required.
Some of you feel like you married the wrong man. For some of you, your husband seems to have morphed into someone you don’t recognize.
No matter how hard it is to hear this, the truth remains that your feelings do not dictate reality. And that is a good thing. Our feelings change as quickly as the weather here in Ohio. Just the other day it was 18 degrees and 60 the next day.
In the same way, our changing feelings don’t follow logic. We have to hold them up to scripture and conform them to it.
Most of you have probably heard this hundreds of times. We hold to truth when we feel like God is far, believing he’s near. We rest upon truth when we feel we’re not forgiven by believing God will keep his promise to us.
But I wonder if in marriage we have tossed all this aside and allowed bitterness to flourish where true love was supposed to take root.
In Genesis 2:18-25 we get to witness the first marriage. God takes Adam’s rib and forms a helper for him. God brings her to him and Adam gives this poetic song in response:
Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23 ESV)
They hold fast to each other and become one flesh. In this first God-authored union, we see that marriage was made for companionship (vs. 18), excitement (vs. 23), and physical as well as spiritual unity (vs. 24). Finally, marriage was designed for us to experience what it means to be fully known (vs. 25).
These are beautiful aspects of marriage that we get to experience. But there are more important purposes found by taking a deeper look at God’s Word.
More Like Christ
Despite the world’s view, marriage is not for your personal satisfaction. It was not created to make you happy. Does it usher in tremendous joy sometimes? Most definitely. But that’s not its purpose.
If you’re going into marriage believing your spouse will make all of your wildest dreams come true, you should take a step back. There’s a rude awakening headed your way. Thinking this way is dangerous and will lead to heartache.
Most affairs start because men and women alike believe they’ve found someone that will make them happier than their spouse. Since the world tells them to follow their heart, they’re deceived into thinking, God wouldn’t want me to stay in a bad marriage, forgetting all along that he is the author of every biblical marriage. He alone decides when it should end.
What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:6 ESV)
Being married is a life circumstance and like all of life’s circumstances it is used by God to conform us to his image. Just like God uses our singleness to mold us, he also uses marriage. It is God’s will that we be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3) not “happy”. As believers, there should be nothing we want more than to become more like Christ.
When we enter into marriage knowing its purpose is not to make us happy but to make us holy, we free ourselves to true joy.
The Choice That Brings True Joy
Marriage is covenanting to love one person for the rest of your life. It is the continual laying down of self for the sake of your spouse and daily choosing to make them happy rather than looking out for number one.
When both spouses within the union are fulfilling their God-given roles, immense joy is at hand.
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. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “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. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-32 ESV)
Many think only the wife is called to a life of service but this passage (along with the previous chapters of Ephesians) shows that both spouses should humbly prefer the other. The wife is to submit and respect, and the husband is to love as Christ loves. In marriage, both, in their own way, are a picture of Christ’s humility.
The wife displays Christ’s submission to the Father in the Trinity. Though Christ is equally God, he chooses to submit to the Father. Though we are equal in value to our husbands, we choose to place ourselves under their authority.
Husbands show Christ by lovingly leading and protecting their wives spiritually and physically. They mimic Christ’s love for the Church as they put their wives before themselves.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world without sin so neither spouse is able to perfectly live this out. But even if your husband is completely disregarding his command to love you with a servant love, you are still accountable for the commands given to you in scripture. You must respect your husband. As wives, we are commanded to do so. If we don’t, we are sinning against God.
There is great joy and comfort to be found in living out our role as God designed, regardless of the actions of those around us.
The saying rings true. Love is a choice.
When you’re tempted to speak harshly to or about your man, choose him over your desire to wound him.
When you don’t feel like hearing about his hobby, choose to listen because it’s important to him.
When you’re tempted to be unfaithful to him in any way (including in your mind), choose your husband.
When you said “I do” you really said “I choose.” I choose you over other men, over friends, over dreams and over myself.
This is the choice that brings true joy and happiness. To place the happiness of others above our own. This is what we are each called to in marriage.
So whether you’ve been married for 2 or 20 years, these truths remain the same. We are called to a love much more beautiful than anything Hollywood has to offer. To a long-suffering love, not a love that leaves when the feelings flee.
We are called to a love that is sacrificial, not superficial.
A love like Christ’s.