This blog post was originally published on my church blog, right over here.
In today’s society, marriage often gets a bad reputation. Roughly 40% of marriages in Canada end in divorce, and, as the world becomes more and more saturated in “free sexuality” culture, the desire to be committed to one person for a lifetime is often perceived as unappealing.
On the flipside, many people actually idolize marriage, thinking that it will be the end to all of their problems. The “thing” of marriage itself seems to be a safe haven—a stepping stone that says to the world, “I’ve made it”.
While these perspectives on marriage do not align, they both miss the mark completely of what God, the Inventor, Designer, and Perfecter of marriage, created it for.
“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
This verse sums up many, many verses in Scripture that speak to the call on husbands and wives to love each other as Christ loved His church. The call is that marriage love is expressed just as Christ loved His church.
So… how do we uphold this high calling for a beautiful marriage?
First… know that your sin and your flesh want you to fail.
Let’s face it: we have failed to love and serve our spouses perfectly. However, a beautiful, Christ-centred marriage knows that God’s grace and mercy are abundant, but that these characteristics of God are not ones we want to take advantage of. When we are in Christ, and know Him, His grace makes us want to turn from our sin and failure and follow Him, the better way.
“My strength and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
In other words, when it comes to marriage: my flesh wants to choose me over my spouse. My sinful nature doesn’t always want to consider him/her above myself or always want to serve them as I should. But Jesus, who dwells in believers by the Holy Spirit, knows exactly how to love, serve, and honour my spouse. Praying, “Lord, show me the way to loving my spouse well today” is a beautiful way to choose to receive grace for my mistakes, recognize that I can’t love my spouse well without Jesus, and turn from sin.
Know the thief, and know Life.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Who is the thief? Certainly it’s the devil—and with him, my own flesh, and the world. Knowing that the devil’s goal is to separate, distract, and turn us from God, we can see how he uses our own flesh and the things of the world to do this, and marriage is no exception. The enemy knows that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12), but he’ll do what he can to attack it. Know where the devil tempts and distracts you, and be on guard for his disguise, whether it be in lust, greed, laziness, jealousy, vanity, etc. Ultimately, no matter how you frame it, when something takes control of us and feels difficult to surrender to God, it is a sinful idol that will take us away from loving and serving our spouse, and, therefore, loving and serving Christ. Remember that these things, though they often have “an appearance of wisdom” (Colossians 2:23) come only to steal, kill, and destroy True Life and Love. “Stand firm, then” (Galatians 5:1).
And know that Jesus came so that you may have LIFE! The kind of Life used in this passage is very different from the word “life” referring to surviving and day-to-day living. This kind of Life is an eternal one; one bursting at the seams with joy; one that, when infused in a marriage, is certainly not easily broken.
WHEN SOMETHING TAKES CONTROL OF US AND FEELS DIFFICULT TO SURRENDER TO GOD, IT IS A SINFUL IDOL THAT WILL TAKE US AWAY FROM LOVING AND SERVING OUR SPOUSE, AND, THEREFORE, LOVING AND SERVING CHRIST.
Remember your vows, and that you are covenanted as one flesh.
The beauty of this Truth is hardly something most of us marvel enough in, and yet it is miraculous.
When the Pharisees ask Jesus about divorce, testing Him, Jesus says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Matthew 19:4-6).
What does this actually mean?
Well, this Truth makes it much easier to understand why and how we are called in marriage to serve our spouse above ourself—we are united to them, and one with them. This covenant was designed to be consummated by many “firsts” that continue throughout marriage, like sexual intimacy, living together, and having children, to name a few. These beautiful elements of life being created to happen within a marriage covenant only further shows the sacredness and purity that God designed it for. And, again, when we know the Man who created it this way, and why He did through His Word, it becomes our joy and honour to uphold these standards through His Spirit.
If you are married, recall the vows you made to your spouse and before God. Do you live those out? Did you take them seriously when you made those promises? If the answer is no, know that Jesus stands with open arms to forgive us. How much does that amazing Grace make us want to turn from our sin and abide in Him, loving our spouses truly by loving Jesus truly?
Marriage is meant to reflect God’s unconditional love.
One of the most beautiful things about marriage is the unconditional love we promise to show. Marriage means, “I love you regardless of your sin, your flaws, and your imperfections. I will always forgive; I will always be patient; I will always be here. Still, because I love you, I will point you to the Father; I will seek Him with and for you; I will pray for you, challenge you, and lead you in the Holy Spirit.”
This sounds a lot like Jesus’ love for the Church. “’For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
When both spouses abide in Jesus, their mission is to glorify Him with their love: that when others see radical, unbreakable, forgiving, gentle, kind, and understanding love, they would see Jesus in them.
If you do not know Jesus, receive His invitation today. He wants to transform your life, and your view on marriage, for the better, and save you from sin and shame. Romans 10:9 says that “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” We want to celebrate new and abundant life in Christ with you! If this is you today, head here to fill out a Connect Card, and one of our leaders will be in touch soon.