In this series we will be looking at some of the basic principles of what makes marriage important from the Christian’s perspective. I will simply be considering some of the ancient wisdom that has stood the test of time and is found in the Biblical texts.
Marriage is for perfecting
Why do so many people find the bliss of courtship and engagement is shattered once they get married? Perhaps even before the honeymoon is over they find themselves having arguments and disagreements, such as they never experienced before?
Is marriage the perfect way to ruin a wonderful relationship? Is there something wrong? No. Marriage does not create problems, it reveals the problems we already have.
We are born not only helpless, but self-centred. As we mature we learn to become more focused on the needs of others and less on our own. When we are married and brought together in a closeness of relationship and proximity, we discover how selfish we still are.
Anyone that’s been married even a short while will attest to the fact that marriage is not an antidote to disagreement. If we enter marriage under the illusion that it will “make us happy” we have a problem as soon as we face conflict. Does this mean that our marriage is a failure, that it can never work?
One of the God-given purposes of marriage is not to make us happy, but to make us holy. To knock off our sharp corners and, like a pebble on the beach, smooth us down.
I’m not suggesting that marriage should be unhappy to fulfil its purpose. Quite the opposite; marriage done well will be exceedingly happy and joyful, perhaps the closest thing to heaven on earth. Happiness is not the goal of marriage, rather it is a by-product.
God is love and as we learn to become more like him, we learn to become more loving and more unselfish. In marriage we (should) have a safe environment to make mistakes. We have agreed to commit ourselves to each other for the long haul so that even when we screw-up we can still be accepted back.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.
It can be easy to honour ourselves above our spouse, serving our own desires ahead of theirs. God calls us to excel at serving and honouring our spouse.
Yes, at times love must be sacrificial in this regard, but it is not always only hard graft. There is a principle in life, “you reap what you sow.” As we learn to love, honour and respect, something amazing can happen. The pattern is this: respect begets respect, honour follows honour. After all, Ephesians 5:28 puts it this way, “He who loves his wife loves himself”.